Are you a fan of Good Omens the miniseries based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman? If you are, you know online there's a big fandom of writers and illustrators continuing to build on these fictional worlds and characters in new and creative ways that are LGBTIQ inclusive. These fans are also interested in supporting LGBTIQ human rights.
Three artists from this fandom, J (@artofjyang), Aiden (@pentachilles), and Nicole (@nicolestahlart) teamed up to do, “To The World,” a Good Omonths 2020 rainbow charity calendar featuring 34 artists. J is a NY based illustrator whose work focuses on normalizing queer existence in society. Aiden is an illustrator from the western United States who specializes in queer, fantasy, and occult themes. Nicole is a NY based game designer and illustrator. As the digital communications manager, I was excited to see on social media that they choose OutRight as the organization to receive their charity donation, so I reached out to them for an interview to learn more about the project.
Tell us about why the three of you teamed up to start the 2020 rainbow charity calendar featuring 34 artists?
J: The ‘To The World’ calendar began with the intent to celebrate a queer relationship from a show by making a physical product featuring multiple illustrators, with all proceeds going to charity. This was the seventh such project I had run, and we had all confidence it’d come to fruition. Nicole is a classmate from college I’ve always wanted to work with, and Penta is a friend who helped mod on a previous project.
Pentachilles: J approached me about organizing the calendar sometime shortly after we finished production on another charity project. I really enjoy working alongside J, so I was immediately on board. Color wheel calendars are just so incredibly aesthetically pleasing, and how fitting would it be to center it around LGBTQ+ themes! I was not familiar with Nicole previously, but she has extensive knowledge about production and industry work, so I was glad to work alongside her as well.
Why do you think it is important to have queer-themed illustrations and art in calendars, graphic novels, gaming, zines, online comics, etc?
Pentachilles: It seems that, as humans, we have a fear of the unfamiliar. You see it in many aspects of society, and it generally targets minorities. Representation that does not create a caricature of a group is one way that we can pave a way for familiarity with the community and/or oneself. Campy representation is fine in moderation, but it was the status quo for far too long. My aim is to create honest, human emotion within my work that one can connect to on an emotional level no matter their identity. Love is a universal language. I know I would have benefited from being exposed to open dialogue about the community as a child, rather than internalizing who I was, and fearing that facet of myself. I'd like to create a space of comfort like that for younger people. It's hard to be happy when someone is mean to you. This includes yourself.
J: Any marginalized group benefits from seeing themselves represented in media in ways that their differences are normalized; both from having characters that are like them, and also from others outside of the group learning about them as people.
What was your process for selecting artists?
[J & P]: There was a three-week application window, after which we got together for artist selection. We focused on the overall quality and consistency of each artist’s work, how comfortable they were with color in their portfolios, and with the objective of showcasing variety. For example, Gen was given the cover assignment after seeing the familiarity with design work in their portfolio.
What was your thought process behind the creation of your piece, and what does it mean for you to create art with LGBTIQ representation?
Pentachilles: I was given the color red, as I work with pinks and reds frequently in my work. Since I was illustrating January, I wanted the piece to fit the timeline for Good Omens and start in The Garden of Eden. It features the demon Crowley tempting Eve to eat from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Crowley is my favorite character in the series, as I sympathize with their character and their queer-coding/gender nonconformity through the story.
It means a lot to me to create art that targets the community and challenges preconceptions about different groups based on appearances. I want to make people think and to see past their own preconceptions. In doing this, it pushes me to expand my own thoughts about people as well.
Brodsky (April Month Illustration): When I first got the assignment I think I had about 6 rough draft sketches with ideas. Each one had a similar feel but a different setting. I had been thinking about the different points in history they would meet and just how happy and content they would be just to be with each other. The one I finally settled on was Crowly waiting in his car for Aziraphale. It also gave me the best opportunity to play around with lighting!
To be able to create something I am proud of, for something I feel so strongly about fills me with such joy. Creating something that represents the LGBTIQ community makes me feel extra motivated, especially when you are surrounded by people who feel just as passionate about it as you do. I am always blown away by the support that comes from these projects!
How did you learn about OutRight Action International and why did you choose us as the designated charity for your fundraiser?
Pentachilles: I was tasked with finding a suitable charity to donate our proceeds to—our aim from the start was to reach out to a group that centered around the LGBTQ+ community. It was important to us that we find a group that cares for the community as a whole, rather than a single group in the acronym. I looked up reputable charities, and OutRight appeared in my search. I have a close friend who is working towards a Master's degree in Sociology, so I have a moderate amount of familiarity with what goes into research of target groups from speaking with her. I felt that it was important to put our donation to a group that is working to help improve conditions for LGBTQ+ people internationally.
We hope in the future there may be opportunities for us to collaborate, do you have any suggestions or ideas?
Pentachilles: Illustrations/header images accompanying newsletters and their themes, if there’s particular artists you’re interested in working with for articles surrounding certain issues facing the community. You might also be able to reach to artists within our team about illustration work for events you host.
Is there anything anyone would like to add about future projects, especially since we just started 2020?
Pentachilles: I am aiming to release an online comic(with an incredibly talented friend of mine) centering around a pair of men in a fantasy setting and the bond they form. Their romance will play a role in the plot, but will not be the focal point of the story, as I am pushing to represent them as people with dimension. I'm sure I'll wind up working with several more zines for charity over the course of the year as well!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and also to the entire team of artists and producers that raised the donation to support of our work to advance human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere.
To follow any of the artists click here.
Published on January 17, 2020 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization