With his signature blend of empowering phrases & stylish illustrations, we handed over the windows of our Covent Garden & Old Spitalfields Market stores to queer artist, Dominic Evans (Dom & Ink), to use as his canvas for our Pride celebrations. Over the course of an afternoon, we got to know more about Dom, his take on Pride and the struggles when it comes to identity.
First off, Happy Pride! What does Pride mean to you in 2019?
I think for me, Pride is now about putting an emphasis on protest. There's a lot more activism around Pride, especially since we’ve had ten trans women killed at the beginning of 2019 and we had lesbian couple, Melania & Chris, who were attacked on a bus in Camden. For me at the moment, if a brand is going to participate in Pride, it’s really important that’s it authentic and there’s a meaning behind a message. I think brands need to put their money where their mouths are and properly invest in employing queer influencers and paying them. It’s a case of really amplifying and raising the voice of the LGBTQI+ community.
What’s your favourite Pride experience?
Last year, UK Black Pride. I’d never been, but it was the most amazing experience. As long as you’re aware of your white privilege, and that you’re there to support the LGBTQI+ community of colour. There were speeches and poetry, a disabilities tent, a store for learning difficulties and families having picnics; a real representation of everyone you could think of.
Pride in Soho can be stressful; there’s about three million people. You’ve got your hot pants on, your ex boyfriend is over there and you’re sweating your arse off. So yeah, for me, UK Black Pride was brilliant. This year, I'm definitely going to go.
How do you feel as a queer person in present day London?
That’s really interesting because, a lot of people have pulled me up on using the term “queer”. I’m thirty-two, turning thirty-three soon, and for my generation “queer” is seen as a derogatory term, but I’ve found that the younger generation are reclaiming the word and using it to encapsulate so many different identities. You could be trans-fem, you could be non-binary but identify with one gender more than the other; there are so many different ways to identify and I think queer is a term to use almost as a blanket term. Using queer means you don’t need to over-label yourself in a way.
Queer without fear!
Yas! The thing is; I’m white and cisgender, so I’m privileged. I’m not of colour or transitioning and I’m lucky to not have been a victim of a hate crime recently. London can be a scary place for LGBTQI+, especially the trans community, but I like to be optimistic. We’ve just got to keep pushing for equal rights and ensure that the brands queer influencers work with, understand our view point and amplify the voices of the LGBTQI+ community.
You’ve recently published a book, Free To Be Me. What inspired you to write Free To Be Me?
I came up with Free To Be Me four years ago, back in 2015. I had already written two books; a journal on dating and break ups and a fashion advice for women, which drew on my experience as a personal shopper. At the time, I had just moved back home and hadn’t really talked to my parents about being gay since I came out. My coming out wasn't a very comfortable experience and I didn't really know what page they were on (pun intended book wise). So I remember thinking, it would be great if there was something that helped a kid feel acknowledged, seen and accepted. I wanted to create a safe space in a book. I actually pitched it to a number of publishers who said my work was not commercial enough and “LGBT” wasn’t trendy. It wasn’t until I moved to London, started connecting with lots of people on Instagram and met my agent. She loved it and after a bit of bidding war, we ended up publishing with Penguin, who have been fantastic to work with.
What inspires you to create the illustrations that you do?
I like to do a mix of typography, slogans - I love drawing people, figures. I hate drawing cars, buildings and cats...
Cats? Cats. I just don’t like drawing cats. It’s like a fluffy ball with eyes. I think my art style has evolved over the years, especially if you compare the work in this book to the first one - it's very different. I work very hard to make sure there's a diverse representation in the illustrations. My illustrations are inspired by a lot of things; bright colours, pop art, fashion illustrations and comic books, as I taught myself to draw from comic books.
How does style and the way you dress, reflect who you are and how you feel?
As an ex-personal shopper, I believe that style is a massive part of your identity. It’s a representation of how you want to be seen and sometimes, just a certain look or even a certain shirt can give you more confidence. When I wake up, if I'm working from home, I will shower, shave, wash my hair and put on a whole outfit with shoes, because in my head that outfit means work. Otherwise, if I don't, I'll just be in my pyjamas all day, eating pizza watching Real Housewives.
Style is a massive thing. You have people who dress quite edgy and you have amazing people like Jamie Windust, who express themselves so beautifully in what they wear. I think it’s about educating people to be open minded and accepting of individual style.
What is your colour of the rainbow?
OMG, I’d say my colour of the rainbow would be iridescent, metallic PINK! Something with a shimmer, something with a bit of a glow. If Pantone, hot pink. Love a hot pink.
What makes you feel pride?
Heather Small always makes me feel pride. The first part of the song, “What have I done today…” Nothing. On a personal note, I recently received a message from a parent on Instagram. She said “My son is a 14 year old trans male, who has been very anxious and depressed. This book helped us have a conversation I didn’t know how to have. It’s cheered him up and brought us together.” It’s so lovely to read that. Seeing stuff like that makes me feel pride.
Pop into Bailey Nelson in the lead up to London Pride to get yourself a pretty Pride pin and enter our Dom & Ink colouring competition to win yourself some new specs!
You can purchase Dom's book, Free To Be Me here.
Follow @domandink for daily feel good messages, illustrations and LOVE.