Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
The great passion of my life, fantasy and science fiction storytelling, is full of the contributions of trans people.
I wanted to make some art for Trans Awareness Week. I have made many drawings and paintings of trans, non-binary and Gender-Nonconforming folx over the years; you can see some of them here in my “Visibility” album. I try and will always try to tell the stories of the people I meet, with the love and honor they deserve.
I wanted to do more than document trans people, though. I wanted to celebrate their contributions. Last night I lay awake thinking, how can I talk about how much the creative power of trans and GNC people means to me? How can I tell the world how much their work and lives inspire me? And I realized, it was by imagining a world without them.
Imagine the world we’d have now with the ones we’ve lost to violence, despair and lack of medical care.
I can’t bear to lose any more. We must protect trans, non-binary and Gender-Nonconforming people, all their lives.
I made this image myself today on November 12, 2018 and I hereby release all copyright to it. This image is copyright free. It is a Public Domain work. You can download it in a variety of sizes here on flickr.
And amazing multi-talented singer-domina–bondage artistKristina Marlen, who was there with her lovely mom. Ms. Marlen knocked the room out with a classic Berliner cabaret tune.
Her mom bought the drawing in the fundraiser auction, which delighted me!
It is my goal to always make myself available for LGBTQIA, sex-positive, kinky, and alternative community benefits if my spoons/health allow. In the Bay Area I did a ton of benefits and fundraisers, and I am slowly ramping up here!
I can do this work because of my wonderful Patrons on Patreon, who provide the monthly financial support that makes it possible for me to document queer life in Berlin!!
If you want an art donation for a benefit or want me to draw at an event, just let me know 🙂 I’m on Instagram here.
My Trans Dino-Witch is finished at last! I’ve been working on her all month.
She was a huge project for such a small work!
I am thrilled to have finished her and she gives me strength. I hope other folks will find strength in her too.
Look at those pathetic, evil Neo-Nazis running away from her mighty teeth!
Look at her group of friends who are riding along on her back to support her and enjoy the mayhem!
I made their tiny colored hair out of nail flocking powder, way cheaper than fancy “craft” flocking powder. You can get a set of 10 colors on eBay for a euro.
She is a companion work to my Pride piece, Queer Dino-Witch, which I made last month.
It was harder to make her, because I had some harder feelings. I realized while making her that I often connect deeply with trans women partly for a very sad reason.
Most of the trans women I know have C-PTSD from repeated, systemic sexual violence, as I do.
Although my Trans Dino Witch is a work about Neo-Nazis, the despicable Alt-Right, I can’t make art about trans folk without thinking about the other kinds of attacks they suffer.
During the making of this piece the Orange Shitclown lashed out violently at transfolk.
He announced (on twitter, of course) that he intended to ban trans people from serving in the US military. Just yesterday he signed a formal memo. Since trans people have been serving with honor in the US military since at least 1862, lots of luck running the armed forces without them.
Also during the making of this piece, Chelsea Manning built a rainbow army of loving, celebrating followers who just won’t stop being brave and kind.
My generation of comic artists was so inspired by Jeffrey Catherine Jones and her commercial and comics artwork that always transcended the commercial. I hope she would like this tribute.
Catherine is a work built on a legacy of artists who inspire me. First, the incredible sculptor and assemblage artist Elizabeth McGrath. In 2005 I saw her show Altarwise By Owl Light at Billy Shire Fine Arts in Culver City.
She is the artist who opened my eyes to the power of modern assemblage and pop-surrealist artists. Her works are creepy, adorable, mythological and emotionally meaningful.
And some of them have little railroad miniature people in them! And they’re full of fake fur and Swarovski crystals and weird shit she found somewhere! And they’re like being hit in the heart with a bus.
So finally using tiny railroad people in a piece is my tribute to Liz McGrath.
I was also very influenced by the constant miniature close-ups on the Instagram feed of Jake and Dinos Chapman. The group of works by these YBAs called “Hell” is an intensely political anti-Nazi work that took them two years to complete and used 60,000 toy soldiers.
I decided to do dinosaur witches for Pride because of Mab Graves‘ DinoKitty show at Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans this year.
I thought, Dino-Kitties! That’s a fine idea. I wonder why you never hear about Dino-Witches…
Mab Graves has been hugely inspiring to me as an artist who never apologizes for making paintings, illustrations, sculptures (in a craft-identified medium iike needle felt!), commercially produced prints and diffusion line mass produced t-shirts all at once.
I love that she gets to make unique fine art objects and show them at the national level and sell melamine plates in her Etsy store.
She controls it all and completely owns her brand, despite enduring years of suffering from endometriosis, which she has been courageously transparent with her fan base about. Inspiring as fuck! I can’t work as hard as she does, but I am working as hard as I can.
Seeing those clear, bright flag stripes pass by in my Instagram feed day after day – seems like queer people are playing a lot of baseball lately, or something – is surprisingly comforting.
I give back 10% of my Patreon income to young queer and trans cartoonists and comic artists. Scout is one of them. So is Sam Orchard. Because fuck, the only people who have a harder and shittier time making a living as artists (especially as comic artists) than women are trans people.
My Patrons made it possible for me to spend fifty hours sculpting, painting and dressing Catherine. I hope she gives back some strength and inspiration.
I’ve been following Laurence on Instagram and delighting in their Non-Binary Portrait Series. These luminous works are alive with compassion and love. With Laurence’ permission, one of the works is reproduced below. It doesn’t compare to seeing them in a bright gallery, printed large, though! They are so fucking exhilarating.
Each work was exhibited with the model’s name and their pronouns of choice. You can see the bts video here! The show was at coGalleries on Torstr., in our old neighborhood. I bought a piece and also snapped up a zine from Kink.cz. Which Laurence signed!
Thanks so much for letting me draw you on your first trip to Berlin, Laurence!
Portrait by Laurence Philomene from the Non-Binary Portraits Series, 2017 Copyright the artist, all rights reserved.
Broadly has a nice interview with Laurence here, and there’s a story on CBC Arts here. You can buy prints here on Society6 and here on Post Collective.
If you are interested in gender study, trans pride, portraiture, or color photography, Laurence Philomene is seriously someone to watch. Thank you Laetitia and Suzanne for curating their work in Berlin!