It goes without saying that supporting Dribbble means supporting a diverse and inclusive community of designers all over the world, all year round. This month in particular, we’re proud to not only spotlight some incredibly talented LGBTQIA+ artists and designers, but also invite them to shed light on the immense impact that art and design can have on amplifying queer voices.
Why is it essential to support and uplift the LGBTQIA+ community through art and design?
I’m Elly Ayling, a designer and freelance illustrator based in Ottawa, Ontario! By day I work in non-profit to help advocate for underserved communities and fund grassroots organizations that uplift them. Outside my MacBook screen, I’m usually tweeting about TV, baking something citrusy, or reading cheesy horror.
“Supporting LGBTQIA+ people through art is essential because, quite frankly, queer creators are the forefront of cultural innovation. Take stock of what’s brilliant these days: Everything Everywhere All at Once. Saucy Santana’s discography. Sort Of. Fire Island (or anything with Joel Kim Booster, honestly).
Queer, trans, nonbinary, and questioning individuals have been waiting impatiently to share their stories and we’ve finally hit the closest thing to a big “beginning”. We’re primed for a renaissance in this century! Support of these artists is the absolute bare minimum; we need to surpass a point where queer people require permission to tell their story.”
My name is Jose Torres. I have been in the creative field for about ten years and still love it. I’m a Visual Artist who specializes in creating magical moments with design for the digital space and am currently a Visual Artist on a Product Design team.
“Not everyone is fortunate to live their truth. We live in a divided world where we move one step forward and get pushed back two steps. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but art was my gateway to expressing my true self as a young queer man. My outlet allowed me to express my emotions and explore my identity without feeling judged.
Many LGBTQIA+ young people aren’t as fortunate to find an outlet to express themselves or a have a safe space and end up taking their lives, never knowing that it gets better. Expressing myself through art and design has helped me understand myself more to the point that I am now comfortable living out loud and proud.”
My name is Johnny Quaranto and I’m a designer, creative, and dog dad from sunny St. Pete, Florida. I’ve been designing for over 7 years now with an emphasis on brand identity and packaging. I am currently the Design Lead for the City of St. Pete where I oversee the creative for the city and the Mayor’s Office.
“Queer people and people of color have been fighting for decades against the over-policing of our communities, often making our pleas visible through art and design. Time and again, our self-expression and sexuality are shared creatively in some form, in ways words simply cannot convey.
With more adults identifying as LGBTQ+ now than ever before, emphasizing queer creativity has never been more important for our communities than it is today.”
I’m Leandro Assis, a Brazilian artist, art director, and letterer based in Rio de Janeiro. I began my career in 2008 and since then I’ve worked across different realms of design such as branding, editorial, digital, and advertising. In all of them, my focus has always been around typography.
“For most people in the community, the right to dream, to live freely in the way we identify, and to be able to navigate between spaces that we are normally not welcome is taken away. In order to progress and make even more of a difference moving forward, it’s so important to shine a light on the LGBTQIA+ community beyond just Pride Month. We exist and we must increasingly occupy these spaces so that future generations do not have to go through what we went through.”
Can art and design be a vessel to express sexuality and gender identity?
My name is Doug Rodas and I’m a Salvadoran graphic designer and illustrator based in Toronto, Canada. My work usually addresses topics regarding my daily experiences and thoughts on life, and even though I often use design and illustration as a means of self-expression.
“Art is a tool to express, explore, and question the concepts that surround our diverse, intersecting identities, whether it be our ethnic heritage, sexuality, religion, gender, disability, or economic status. Despite the fact that art simply starts from our individual and collective expression, design must respond to specific objectives or functions while also contemplating the individual and collective identities of the users for which it is oriented.
Both art and design are influenced by identity factors that shape them as tools so that they can fulfill their function, either to express our individuality or to improve the quality of life of the community we are part of.”
Hi y’all! My name is Carra Sykes and I am a queer designer and illustrator and mom based between Houston and Austin. I work full time as a design manager at PLANOLY and also do freelance design and illustration work as myself.
“100% yes. When I started creating art that expressed my queerness, I felt I had opened a new portal of expression. It’s a beautiful way to get to know yourself better and even a way that can share with others more of who you are.”
Elly Ayling: Sometimes I think art is the only way it’s possible. Even the most closed-minded person will stop to contemplate a piece of art if it resonates with them. Expression of sexuality, sensuality, or fascination with certain bodies has existed since the birth of art itself.
Queerness and vulnerability intertwine when art is involved, which is significant considering how little vulnerability LGBTQIA+ people have been encouraged to show, historically. This is evident in protest signs, sketches of a lover, and self-portraits as a person becomes more aligned with who they want to be. A piece can be confident in its bluntness or tender in its subtlety. Either way, it’s how we celebrate our own souls and the bodies that make a home for them.
How can creatives use art and design to educate others about the community and LGBTQIA+ history?
I’m Neil Rook, a London-based illustrator and designer. I believe design should always be fun, eclectic, and when appropriate full of color and pattern. My work transcends the mediums of illustration, typography, surface design, and print.
“Art and design are extremely powerful tools. They possess massive amounts of potential and scope that can be used to help aid or engage education. Creatives can and should use that power in order to help others learn about LGTBTQIA+ history and issues.
Whether you are looking at the past, present, or future, people will often respond better or pay more attention to well-designed or engaging things, things they may deem unimportant otherwise.
Art and design can start conversations, sometimes maybe even awkward or uncomfortable ones but a conversation nevertheless. Create work that sparks or provides opportunity for those conversations or visibility for the community. Whether that be in comment boxes, in meeting rooms or even just in one person’s head. It’s important to always keep conversation open and active, even when it’s not pride month. Create or highlight work that celebrates the community, highlights issues, educates and raises awareness.”
Leandro Assis: I believe that design can and should be an educational tool, but I also believe that in recent times, we have increasingly emptied these meanings, focusing more on aesthetics than impact. This is very dangerous. It’s important to stop focusing on what looks beautiful and start doing what is necessary. When creating something that educates and informs, we have to give more importance to the subject than to aesthetics.
It’s also important to know what we’re talking about, rather than simply follow the herd. What I always do is express my opinion and share my experience as a Black and gay man through what I do and I always make sure that I’m reaching the people that I think need to see it most.
Doug Rodas: I truly believe that as creatives we have a responsibility to use our talents and abilities to create spaces of awareness, kindness, and inclusiveness. As humans, we should be motivated to cultivate relationships that transcend our differences and that help us push the world to be a place full of kindness and freedom.
And even more so, as creatives, it’s part of our job to think outside the box, to imagine the world we want, and to recognize that our creative work isn’t merely based on our individual experience, but is influenced by historical and cultural factors where precisely people from the LGBTQIA+ community have been pioneers and great references in art and design.
What can large companies with huge social platforms do to properly support queer artists all year round?
Neil Rook: Brands need to hold a mirror to themselves at all times and continuously ask and reassess if they are supporting everyone and doing all they can and not just at certain times of the year. Are brands hiring or spotlighting artists from different communities during months other than pride? Are they making their online spaces more inviting or safe for queer artists? Simple things like moderating comment sections better etc. Are they following through on the actions or commitments they made during pride month throughout the rest of the year or is it just performative?
Carra Sykes: Feature queer artists in campaigns throughout the year giving them a platform and also budgeting to pay the artists you feature. This helps them grow in their career and financial stability. Also! More LGBTQ+ visibility year-round is so, so important.
Johnny Quaranto: By supporting Queer people through highly-visible platforms all year round, we counteract stigma and prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals.
We’re currently experiencing what feels like a regression in the United States as it pertains to our rights. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for trans youth to access the resources they need to undergo healthy transitions, adoption for same-sex couples is being questioned, and public school teachers in Florida have been banned from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Large companies voicing their support for the LGBTQ+ community is undoubtedly impactful, but taking action is the true measure of a company’s commitment. When large social platforms speak out in the face of injustice and amplify voices that have been historically suppressed, we challenge the narrative. Pride shouldn’t just be a 30-day affair but more of a perpetual practice in year-round humanity and inclusion.
Jose Torres: I believe that large companies could do more. The LGBTQIA+ community are people year-round, not just in June for Pride month. It could be donating or sponsoring LGBTQIA+ art projects or programs, queer artists’ features on their platforms, public speaking events on queer artists, or teaming up with LGBTQIA+ nonprofit organizations to create mentoring opportunities.
Queer artists often don’t have the support from family to attend art schools and programs, so even providing resources or awarding scholarships to queer artists helps tremendously. Companies that support us should take action and voice their support for diversity and inclusion and rise against backward laws by not donating to politicians who what to censor us and ban books. That visible support makes us feel we matter.