Hi Wednesday! Thanks for being a part of our Pride celebration—we’re so excited to include you and your work in what we’re doing this month. Since we’re lucky enough to have had you create special stickers for us for Pride, I first wanted to ask you about your work—how did you get into art in the first place? Was it a creative outlet that was first introduced to you by someone, or did the drive to create come from inside you?
I got into art practice when I was diagnosed with bipolar [disorder]. I found that drawing and painting gave me a huge power to express who I am. It’s also a huge aspect of my self-care regimen. I believe that art has saved my life many times.
From there I decided to be proud of who I am, and that there’s no line between my life and my art. I started being openly proud and radically vulnerable and I think people felt braver in seeing that. All I ever wanted to do with my illustrations was reach out to my community. I wanted people to feel welcome and safe in my art space. I think with each piece I’m edging closer to this goal.
Any special thoughts or ideas that went into the stickers you created for YTTP?
The stickers were all about being proud as a queer person. Often queer narratives are heavily based in victimization and ostracism; we’re the objects of what some call "pity porn.” These stickers reach beyond this. Transgender happiness is real; non-binary excellence is real; queer power is real. So when I was given the task of creating stickers, I wanted people to see our wonderful, innate truth: we make the world more magical. Seeing the stickers all together was truly wonderful for me. I felt proud that I made such a magical representation of queer happiness.
Do you have any rituals that you perform to get in the right headspace to create art?
My art is me, and I know that to take care of my art, I must take care of me. I take my self-care routine really seriously. It keeps me doing what I know is best for me. A skin care routine, regular bubble baths, eating blueberries, getting enough sleep, eating well. My bubble bath routine is level 100, I’m always buying nice new bath bombs, muscle relaxing salts, and essential oils.
I work most days in my studio for ten hours, and I work really hard to keep organized, and most importantly to remember to claim time for myself. Seeing my girlfriend and friends are really important to me. I like to read and play the piano to take care.
How does it feel to be collaborating with brands (including Youth To The People and Gucci!)?
It feels surreal. It was like a dream come true that I could be given a platform to speak about how other people can support us. It also feels really powerful to be given permission to talk about being queer and to talk about being non-binary in such a public arena.
I’m interested in being a role model for young non-binary, trans, and lesbian people. I want to be powerfully vulnerable, I want to love myself fiercely, and I want to be excellent to show them that they can do this too. That our success, happiness, and pride is real.
I’m really hopeful that people are supporting the messages I’ve worked hard to portray through my art. I hope that people keep getting louder about their support for non-binary, trans, and intersex people. I really hope to amplify this mission in the years to come through my art practice.
What emotions did you feel when you first were introduced to the words that helped you self identify?
I first learned about being genderqueer in university. I lucky enough to attend a module named “Queer Writings.” It was there that I learned about a rich history of non-binary and trans people. I was incredibly overwhelmed if I’m honest. I had learned nothing about queer history at school; we’ve been erased to the point that many people don’t realize they are until they do their own research. As soon as I read about genderqueer, I knew it was me. I couldn’t go back now because I had explained my story to myself. It took months before I said it out loud. I’m not a boy or a girl; I’m genderqueer and I always have been. I was open with myself too. I knew I need top surgery, and being called a girl really felt intensely anxiety-inducing for me. I decided to ask people to call me they/them.
What was your personal experience like getting those around you to use your correct pronouns?
People have been really accepting. I feel like for them there is still a barrier where some think I might be extremely offended when they make mistakes. I’ll say now, “No one is going to openly attack you for trying your best to adapt your language so that it’s correct. You’re going to make mistakes. That’s fine, but there’s no need to be extremely upset when you misgender someone, just calmly correct yourself and carry on with the conversation.” It’s important to know that it’s more important to make mistakes trying to do your best for your trans loved ones than it is to be afraid of being called transphobic.
We’re all learning, so for those who don’t know yet, what do you think is the best way to ask for someone’s correct pronouns?
I think it would be brilliant if every time we meet a new person, it can be as simple as this:
It doesn’t have to be this huge event where you make a grand dedication to trans-ally-ship. Being an ally can come in the most simple actions.
What are you doing to celebrate Pride this June?
Pride is all year round for me. Pride means a lot to me as a concept. It’s about resisting the urge to conform to heteronormativity; it’s about stepping up and choosing to love yourself; it’s about taking our community into the streets every day, and what that can mean for us.
For me pride can be like this:
I do want to be on the streets for Pride this year, so I’m going to make it to as many events as I can. I’m especially excited for the first ever Trans Pride London to come this year!
Who are some of your favorite queer artists to follow on Instagram?