Queer Careers – Stephen McDermott, Designer
This is the second installment in an ongoing series looking at Queer Careers. We want to speak to gay men who’ve carved out their own career path, and want to share their insights on how to get ahead in the workplace. We’re interested to know what it’s like to be gay, where they live, and where they work. This time, we speak to Stephen McDermott, a designer, based in Canada.
Where are you from/where did you grow up?
“I’m from Canada, I moved around a lot as a kid, and even now I’m still moving around so I never really stay put for long. I spent most of my childhood in central Alberta and British Columbia. I did spend most summers with my dad in a small town in Alberta though; you wouldn’t know it haha.”
What inspired you to create the pins and male form art on your website?
“I’ve always had an interest in the male form, even when I was a lot younger. I was fascinated by renaissance paintings & sculpture, and this was made more apparent in my undergrad. “
“My favorite class was life drawing, and we would have male models come in every other week to pose nude for us art students, and I always looked forward to that class. After my undergrad, I was missing drawing the male form, so I allowed myself to be indulgent and create projects that focused on men, and their bodies. “
I feel represented in Queer Art.
Many of your statement pieces are provocative like, Fill me up, and Cry baby, are you just having fun with gay culture or are you trying to make a comment?
“I think I’m trying to relate to gay culture a little, I feel very detached from it which allows me to play with themes and images that you might not always see. There’s a lot of emphasis on specific gay subcultures and genres, and I like to zig-zag around those themes and just have a little fun with naughty imagery most gay men could enjoy.”
Are any of your models based on real people? Boyfriends? Ex-boyfriends?
“All of my ink paintings are based entirely on models. I’m not so talented that I can create photographic work without reference. The men portrayed are models I contact to pose for me, or guy’s who I know who submit their own photographs with their specific taste that I paint.”
“Haha, none of them are people I’m intimate with or have had relationships with.”
Are you single?
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
“A lot of stuff, traveling, running my business with others around me, whether that’s a joint studio, or a magazine, or something. I just want to be a young adult in five years still trying to figure out what makes me happy and pursuing it.”
Can you talk to me a little about your business, how did you learn to set up a shop online, promote yourself, target on a particular market etc?
“I like to think of myself as a young artist still. I don’t think I’ve figured out the secrets to success yet, especially since I’ve only been out of school for two years. I did learn how to set up a website in my illustration degree, but a site is easy to build and put out there. A social media presence is the difficult part. It takes patience, practice and engagement to have a following and keep it. I think promoting is easy once you just do it and have no shame about it. As far as my target niche audience goes, it’s easy to succeed at something that involves sexuality and nudity. Especially in the LGBT community, and I just happened to have success with my paintings, and just evolved what I was doing into a small business that happens to deal with nudity and sexuality.”
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Queer Careers helps me to think about my own career path.