Can you tell us about your journey as a queer artist and whether your identity influences your creative process?
I think I’ve always recognized myself as a queer person, but that identity has changed a little bit throughout my life. I started out just as just identifying as gay, and then learning that you can be more than that, and that gender is less rigid and rule defined than we think it is. I think that’s actually an excellent lesson for design as well—that these things are only tools to make life easier. Gender is a way for us to communicate with people easier and to understand people easier.
There are ideas and goals for things, but truly the best solutions come out of trying to break those rules or trying to work with them or around them.
I would say that my identity definitely relates to my work in terms of color choices and the sort of visuals that I’ve gravitated towards. It’s definitely very saturated, very punchy, and I would say youthful and bright. I think that connects with my overall view of life, which does come from identity—learning that there aren’t rules and that life can be whatever you want it to be.
There’s a joke with my friends that goes “This may not exist in your fantasy, but in my fantasy, this very much is part of life.” Just the other day, I was talking to my friends about the idea of gender abolition and a world where people’s value is as a person first and anything below that, like gender, is less valuable. And he brought a perspective of, “Well, you don’t actually believe that could happen, right? You don’t believe that?” It goes back to my fantasy situation. In my world, that very much can and will happen. And if I live my life from that perspective, I’m just more positive and joyful. I think that definitely comes from being a queer person and, by default, being against the norm, or being classified that way by others.
In what ways do you believe design can be used to promote inclusivity and representation for the 2SLGBTQ+ community?
I think it’s very apparent that there’s a good balance of gender identities—I feel like design is one field where that’s really expressed. But when it comes to other minority groups, I find that it gets a little bit tough. Indigenous groups, for example. I had one Indigenous classmate in school, and there were about 50 of us. So that’s a pretty rough ratio, considering they are the original people of Canada.
I would say that identity is really important to design, especially with having effective perspectives.
In school, you read this book, The Politics of Design. It expresses that design, although we like to speak of it as common sense, a lot of it is still learned behaviours. We’ve learned that visuals presented in this way means this, we’ve learned that the biggest thing on the page is the most important and things follow down from there. But there’s situations where having different perspectives allow you to make better designs. It allows you to find solutions that more accurately serve the people that you are designing for. And to not run into situations where, for example, a five pointed star in Western countries is a star, but in some Eastern countries, it is still a symbol that’s tied to Nazis.
Part of design is that you’re designing exclusively for other people—the end user. And, when the end user is broad and diverse, designing from a diverse perspective really is the best way to get an effective solution.