Marivan Martins on his collaborative, creative and cliché-breaking photography

The Brazilian artist runs us through his portfolio to date, which includes an ironic and humorous series looking at cis male masturbation.

20 October 2021

“Art was never really in my blood,” says Marivan Martins, a Brazilian photographer who’s currently based in Paris. “I come from a family of very hard-working people, but art – in general – was not something we really believed in as a career.” This equated to a period of trying out various industries from medicine to law, and “finally,” Marivan landed on photography as his bread and butter. Not only does the medium allow him to explore his creative interests, but it also enables him to surround himself with like-minded people. “And just the fact that you can share something that you visualised inside your head – I love every single part of it.”

These days, you’ll find Marivan working in the realms of conceptual fashion photography. He’s contributed to publications including Pap Magazine, CAP 74024, Bad To The Bone, and Sicky Mag among others, and he’s also been named as one of the best emerging photographers by Fresh Eyes and GUP magazine. We can most certainly see why Marivan’s work is heralding such deserved attention, for his portfolio is explicitly creative and experimental; he pairs subject matter, like cis male masturbation, alongside artful compositions, trippy art direction and props. It’s impeccably creative.

Marivan gets inspired by many things. From childhood memories to something he experienced just moments ago, the photographer has a knack for pulling external influences into an exciting brief and concept – and thus a brilliant image. “Something I heard, felt and saw,” he tells It’s Nice That. “My brain does its crazy math, associating everything and often coming with this puzzle of moments that my life has glued together. I usually try to work from here.” Resultantly, Marivan has developed somewhat of a routine when it comes to image-making, which has been particularly refined over the last couple of months. Shooting predominantly in film, most of his day, then, is spent scanning. “So, I take my sweet time scanning them,” he notes. “I have an exact place for everything and a specific album that I leave on repeat – for hours and hours.”


Marivan Martins (Copyright © Marivan Martins, 2021)

A typical project for Marivan usually takes around a month to complete, factoring in the mood boarding, meetings with the team, brainstorming and the “love-hate process of stressing over every single detail.” He also likes to compile a series of drawings beforehand, outlining his direction and the ideas he’s willing to explore further on – “yes, if you’ve already worked with me, you probably remember my terrible drawings,” he says. Next, he’ll spend just a couple of days shooting, before heading into the selection process and post-production. The latter is usually a speedy one due to him knowing exactly what he wants the work to look like, having made up his mind in the beginning and adhering to a healthy amount of prep.

Talking of one of his most favoured shoots (the one about cis male masturbation), Marivan explains how he likes it for its humour and irony. In the work, we’re seeing sock puppets smoking a spliff, the classic school picture cloud backdrop, and models laying suggestively in tiny briefs. “I absolutely love this series,” he says. “We cast Malcolm and Baptiste through Instagram and I couldn’t be happier with our choice. They were both so open with the concept and just the perfect fit. We had a lot of fun as well making all these little sock puppets, and imagining their own personality.” The shoot was highly collaborative and crafted for bi-annual independent magazine À Part, with styling by Damien Testu, photography assistance by Noelia Cromar and lighting assistance by Adrien Turlais. It also followed Marivan’s goal of opening up around the idea behind cis male masturbation: “I have no intention of generalising everyone’s experience with this series; I’m actually trying to open a dialogue based on my very own.”

Another series is one that Marivan holds “very dear” – a “cry baby”-themed shoot for Sicky Mag. Stereotypically, crying is often associated with being overtly feminine, which sparked a few curiosities for Marivan and a drive to thrash all typical assumptions. “We cast men with different body types, including two bodybuilders, to show that men, regardless of their physique, can also be a bunch of cry babies.” Conceived in a moody, high-contrast aesthetic, the piece is almost dark and eery as it approaches a comparatively sensitive subject. “We took the expression quite literally and associated them, throughout the series, with things that remind us of babies, innocence and a touch of femininity.” Marivan worked with stylist Charline Prat on the series, who was a perfect partner to dive into the topic with.

Evidently so, Marivan thrives on working in a team. In fact, it’s something he cherishes greatly, and he hopes his audience will notice the amount of teamwork behind every image. “I’d also like for them to see that there’s always a bit of myself in every work that I do. I believe that is nearly impossible to not get some of you through when you create, so please enjoy these little pieces of me.”

GalleryMarivan Martins (Copyright © Marivan Martins, 2021)

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Marivan Martins (Copyright © Marivan Martins, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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