WHAT IS JAMES WEARING? Rotating Header Image

John Arsenault Photography

John Arsenault and James Andrew - photo John Arsenault

John Arsenault and James Andrew – photo John Arsenault

While lost in an Instagram k-hole, I stumbled upon the work of Los Angeles based photographer, John Arsenault, and found myself quite intrigued. We managed to start up an internet exchange, and as luck would have it, on his recent trip to NYC (he’s represented by Clamp Art here in the city), I had a the chance to meet up with the man. And as you might have noticed, yours truly had the honor to be photographed above in this rather lovely and louche image!

Self-Portrait - photo John Arsenault

Self-Portrait – photo John Arsenault

“Since first picking up a camera, John Arsenault has routinely been turning his lens back upon himself, producing an outlandish and absurd, wild and erotic account of his life as a young, gay artist. Exploring facets of his personal relationships, his sexuality, and his identity, Arsenault constructs various scenarios that not only tell the story of his experiences, but also comment upon society at large. With a great eye for the strange, the unexpected, and the laugh-out-loud ridiculous, he is not afraid to poke fun at himself, and thus, is able to comment upon matters of broad cultural import without seeming shrill or pedantic. Arsenault’s work is vulnerable and honest. As writer Dan Halm has concluded, “One can learn a lot about oneself through another’s eyes.”

Clamp Art


A short WIJW interview with the artist follows:

Is there an upcoming show or book in the works that you would like people to know about?

I’m working on a book for my series, “Barmaid.” I finished shooting this series a month and a half ago. I’m also working on a t-shirt project “the gentle of men,” it’s a collaboration between two friends and myself. “Stainable Art, We believe in art you can touch. Art you can wrestle in. Art you can rub your beard on. Art that can be washed with your socks and underwear.” The project began as re-creations of my photographs, but has grown into our creating original designs too. [See link here.]

Tell us about being a photographer—what would you like people to know.

My career started in 1999, using the camera as a tool to capture the experience of life. Vibrant color, humor & my ability to transcend the mundane moments in life that we would normally pass by, are paralleled with intimate moments with friends & lovers. My goal is to produce a visual monologue about my life, revealing the aspects of myself that I am most mystified and riveted by—my sexuality, my personal relationships, the masculine vs. feminine parts of my identity, and my place within society.

My most recent project “Barmaid,” is a collection of self-portraits, portraits and interior landscapes that I captured over a year and a half while working at the Eagle LA.

Tell us about the portrait that you took of you and me.

I wanted to play off of “What is James Wearing;” people are intrigued by you and want to see what creative outfit you’ve been captured in. This is true for me as well, but along with dressing in outlandish, stylish, creative outfits, I often capture myself naked. I don’t pose nude for shock value, it’s a way for me to create a dialogue within my images. In my series “A Ghost is Occupying My Heart” (created between April 2008 and December 2009), I was Inspired with a desire to heal a broken heart and to find myself. I decided to strip myself down emotionally, often literally nude, in order to create a body of work that revealed my search and my pain as honestly as I could.

Usually when I create images in other people’s homes, I have no prior knowledge of how their spaces are styled and this was the case when I showed up at your home in NYC to create a portrait of us together. I assumed by the way you style yourself that I was going to walk into a visual overload, and I was psyched when my assumption was correct. I was inspired by your green Dodie Thayer dishes, and the idea of our having “afternoon tea.” My being nude is a perfect juxtaposition to your casual attire and a nod to my self-portraiture work. We both look directly into the camera, our expressions similar to one another, yet not planned. I’ve captured what I believe is our self-confidence in who we are.


Self-portrait - photo John Arsenault

Self-portrait – photo John Arsenault

Thank you John Arsenault for a revealing glimpse of yourself and your work! Like Arsenault, I believe that people in a way act like mirrors—our interactions often forcing ourselves to take a better look inward and reflect on what is going on for us personally.

Self-portrait - photo John Arsenault

Self-portrait – photo John Arsenault

Karl-Tee - photo John Arsenault

Karl-Tee – photo John Arsenault

For Arsenault’s photograph of us (top), I’m sporting a Michael Bastian olive and blue fair isle wool cardigan, Turnbull and Asser blue mini tartan cotton shirt with white contrast collar and cuffs, J Brand Kane jeans, Tom Ford brown leather belt and brown leather tasseled loafers, vintage Rolex watch and my fragrance is Creed Royal-Oud.


  1. wendy woo says:

    What a great post! And such an interesting individual! The world needs more people with his attitude!!

  2. Marc de Paris says:

    Dear James, have you been to the exhibition “Impressionnism and fashion?” I have to tell you that there is also an exhibition about Marcel Proust at New York Morgan Library. “Marcel Proust and Swann’s Way”. Our National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) lent a lot of documents to the Morgan Library. you will enjoy it. I hope that you are OK. In Paris, the weather is getting warmer but still wet. Cheers

  3. James Andrew says:

    Dear Wendy,

    John is an amazing artist- I was thrilled to get to an inkling of his brilliance!



  4. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Marc,

    Thank You!

    I have not been to either exhibition- but of course – I am anxious to see both.

    I am hoping to see you in Paris this June and enjoy the Maguet season.



  5. Mara Helmrich von Elgott says:

    How coolf James, I love when you promote art!



  6. It’s like we’ve come to your site and interrupted your inner thoughts as you’re relaxing having tea. Startled, even the apparition looks at the viewer.

    Brilliant image.

  7. Flavio says:

    Hey querido James
    Después del special preview de ayer, que me sentí muy halagado, que te puede decir, FELICITACIONES.
    Un fuerte abrazo

  8. Danny says:

    …and for the next post, you’re in the buff (except for a luxurious splash of Creed’s Neroli Sauvage) and your accomplice dons the Tom Ford era Gucci…..
    A vous!

  9. Philip Bewley says:

    Dear James and John,
    This is a thrilling collaboration. I believe that WIJW? is, for me, an incredible document not only of fashion at its highest level, but also of wider areas in the arts, the excellence in all things including the settings, ideas and photography. Looking through the archive, your work here could also be seen as a performance art -this double portrait exemplifies that -and this double portrait is at the cutting edge of contemporary photography. Loved the interview with Arsenault. I hope you kept a print. I can well imagine this in a museum show of contemporary fine art photography.

  10. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Mara,

    It gives me great pleasure to work with and promote artists!

    So pleased that so many are loving this collaboration.

    Cheers and Thank You!



  11. James Andrew says:

    Dear D.Scott Tjaden,

    Yes there is indeed something surreal about this image.

    Cheers and Thank You!


  12. James Andrew says:

    Querido Flavio,

    Me encanta cuando dejas commentarios en mi blog!

    Un abrazzo fuerte,


  13. Oonagh says:

    Love it! I just hope the artist is not spilling his tea on your lovely tapestry…

  14. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Danny,

    Funny that you say that – I have actually been thinking it might be rather lovely and louche to create a photo of me in a super posh bathroom ,my naked back side to the camera and my reflection in the mirror perhaps spritzing myself with my fav Creed fragrance.

    Well off to the gym to get ready!



  15. James Andrew says:

    Dear Philip,

    I live for your tremendous feedback and observations!

    With the eloquence of the most highly evolved aesthete, always capturing the exact essence of what I am trying to share here on WIJW?

    Love, Light and Blessings,


  16. Danny says:

    Oh James!!!

    Would that I could pull myself from my self satisfied (read lazy!) stupor to do some exercise too…. Good for you, 2, 3, 4….

    X, Danny

  17. Danny says:

    One word…. “Gruau…..”

  18. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Danny,

    Are you a clairvoyant?

    I am sitting with a copy of Grau- Portraits of Men – as we speak!



  19. Danny says:

    Great minds thinking alike… And all that… X

  20. nmharleyrider says:

    Most intriguing, artistic, exciting blog I have ever seen on the Internet. Greetings from New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment and a few artists as well. What a blast this has been reading it and listening to R. Strauss’s Capriccio.

  21. James Andrew says:

    Well Hello nmharleyrider and Thank You!

    What tremendous praise!

    So happy to hear I have found a new fan – stay tuned – hopefully we will continue to delight and intrigue you!

    Cheers and All Best,


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