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INTERVIEW

PRIDE: MEET THE ARTISTS

For Pride Month and beyond, we're platforming queer creatives and shining a light on voices we want to hear more of. That's why we've collaborated with four incredible artists – Ashton Attzs, Erik Carnell, Theodoor Grimes and Tommy Burley – to create our Artists' Collection, with all profits going to the LGBTQIA+ charity Just Like Us. We caught up with Ashton, Erik, Theodoor and Tommy to chat about designing the pieces, their personal art styles and their favourite Pride memories. Keep scrolling to find out more!

OUR CHARITY PARTNER

Just Like Us is a LGBTQIA+ young people’s charity. Founded in 2016, the charity works with thousands of schools and young people across the UK to empower LGBTQIA+ young people to thrive.

 

Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme trains LGBTQIA+ 18-25 year olds to speak in schools about allyship, their Pride Groups programme helps schools create a safe and supportive space for LGBTQIA+ and ally pupils, and their School Diversity Week event is celebrated by more than 7,000 primary and secondary schools every June. To find out more about Just Like Us, click here.

MEET THE ARTISTS

Headshot of Ashton Attzs | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Ashton Attzs @attzs_

ASHTON ATTZS @attzs_

Ashton (she/they) is a UK-based illustrator and painter. Her paintings and digital illustrations are colourful and vibrant celebrations of the everyday person and quotidian life.

 

Hi, Ashton! What does it mean to have your designs printed with ASOS?
It’s really cool! I had a great time working on these designs and being a part of this project, and I'm so happy to share them with the big wide world. I always love working on projects where my artwork can be seen out and about in public and worn proudly.

 

They look amazing! Why is it important to reflect LGBTQIA+ experiences in art?

Well, I'm a lesbian and my art is created through a LGBTQIA+ lens, so naturally queer experiences are going to filter through to my work. But I'd say that's the same for any artist, really. Who you are impacts what you know and therefore what you create. Of course, historically (and still now), a lot of LGBTQIA+ experiences weren't given the chance to be shared, so it’s important that going forward our community is celebrated more in the art world. There are so many interesting, untold stories we haven't heard and beautiful things we haven't seen, and art is a great vessel for that.

 

Can you share a stand-out Pride memory with us?

Dancing and singing to campy pop songs last year in the blazing hot sun with my girlfriend at a very gay music festival!

Headshot of Erik Carnell | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Erik Carnell @abprallenuk

ERIK CARNELL @abprallenuk

Erik (he/him) is a gay trans man whose work is guided by his love of all things horror and the pride he takes in being queer. Working with a pastel colour palette, Erik brings softness to a world which can often be quite rough.

 

Hi, Erik! How would you describe your art?

My style is a homage to my pre-teen self: the weird goth kid who hadn’t found his people yet, who didn’t have language to describe who he was. I love that kid and I’m so proud of him for toughing it out and bringing us here, so I could draw cute skulls and tell people like him that they’re wonderful and cool, and if there isn’t space for them in this world, that we’ll make space. That kid’s love of pastel colours and horror movies has taken him a lot further than he could have imagined.

 

Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
It’s hard to pick a favourite but the 'trans rights forever' leopard has a special place in my heart. I take a lot of inspiration from traditional tattoos and rock 'n’ roll aesthetics – this collection is no exception.

  

Can you share a moment of queer joy you’ve experienced which might inspire others?

When I had my top surgery nine years ago, I was given a new lease on life. I still find myself admiring my chest in the mirror. I still run my hand over it and remember just how wonderful it is to live my life this way. My life is filled with moments of queer joy: when I hear a man sing about another man I feel such pride to be like him; when I’m in a gay bar surrounded by my community, I get overwhelmed by how diverse and extraordinary we are; and when I walk with other trans people in marches and can’t see the beginning or end of the crowd, I am honoured to be a member of this beautiful group of people.

Headshot of Theodoor Grimes | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Theodoor Grimes @ggggrimes

THEODOOR GRIMES @ggggrimes

Theodoor (they/he) is a Black non-binary digital artist known for their vibrant illustrations that centre the queer experience. Based in the Bronx, Theodoor is entirely self-taught and works under the moniker ggggrimes.

 

Hi, Theodoor! Do you have a favourite piece from your collection?
My 'trans chaos' design is my absolute favourite. It is as chaotic as I was envisioning: there are piercings on the letters, the A has a mullet, the S is wearing a hat and the ‘chaos’ is just so beautifully inspired by NYC graffiti I grew up seeing. I thought about various parts of my own identity and the identities of those I love, and I just sketched what came to mind.

 

Tell us about your style?
My style is highly influenced by manga and anime. The colours in my illustrations are vibrant and lush with various patterns. I’m not one to shy away from weird poses or subject matter, and I absolutely love mixing reality with fantasy. One of the most distinguishable features in my artwork is my signature red iris. One day I started using red irises and I never stopped. I have a hard time making eye contact in real life, so I think drawing my audience to my subjects’ eyes feels really freeing for me.


You explore gender in your work. What do you enjoy the most about that?

I love how freeing of an experience it is. As a society, we have so many different ways of codifying gender that we aren’t even thinking about on a conscious level. In my artwork, it’s always purposeful. It’s the way people hold their bodies or how they wear their jewellery, or the expression on their face. I view gender as a performance where each of us is the star. 

Headshot of Tommy Burley | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Sharon Kilgannon

TOMMY BURLEY @squarepegtattoo

Tommy (they/he/she) is a queer/trans tattoo artist based in Brighton and London. With roots in illustration, animation and community arts, Tommy is a resident tattoo artist at FORT, a sober, queer creative haven in London, and Top Boy Tattoo Studio in Brighton.

 

Hi, Tommy! How would you describe your art?

Think fineline-traditional-meets-unapologetically-queer-and-sexy-meets-realism-meets-chrome-meets-chicano. Unless I'm painting or making work digitally as animations or illustrations, I almost exclusively draw in black and blue biro, whether working large scale or small. I love how simple and cheap a biro is and it's great to use something so common to create stunning, hyper-realistic and tonal pieces of work. I also come from a working-class background, so being resourceful with the way I make art is important to me.

 

And how has your art helped you personally?
Drawing has always been a safe space for me to escape to, but also a tool to express myself in ways that I couldn’t outwardly. Being brave enough to show the world my work and having people wanting to permanently adorn their skin with my silly little drawings has given me unimaginable joy. My work has, I think, spoken to a lot of people in ways that I couldn’t have imagined and has helped me create and build community. One of the first projects I created was the screen-printed ‘trans joy’ T-shirts that were handmade at FORT and sold to help fund gender-affirming surgeries. We raised over £1,000 and all of it went to the trans community. 

 

That’s incredible! Can you share a Pride memory with us?
With the nature of my job, meeting queer people and putting permanent and meaningful artworks on their body, I have moments of queer joy on a weekly basis! Some key memories have been swimming in Brighton sea for the first time since top surgery, or going suit shopping with Joelle Taylor before her big debut we worked on together at the Southbank. Or watching Kae Tempest perform a poem at London Trans Pride and feeling a sense of community and connectedness around me.

 

To see more from the artists, keep your eyes peeled across our socials this Pride month! 

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