HOMOCO announces the Holiday 2020 release of a second capsule collection in partnership with artist This Is Amit and the Tom of Finland Foundation to commemorate Tom of Finland’s centennial birthday. An exclusive interview with artist Amit Greenberg, below.
This is the second iteration of the collaboration. What can we expect from the second capsule collection? How does it differ from the first?
This collaboration came together to celebrate Tom's art and legacy on his centennial birthday. While exploring the archives at The Tom of Finland Foundation in LA, I discovered some rare gems. Among them a rare Dirty Talk tape from 1984 that accompanied the Kake in Canada comic book, illustrating love affairs (and other encounters) between working men. Another rare find was the sketch of Michelangelo's David sculpture in Tom's unique aesthetic, which immediately brought to mind my latest exploration of classical eroticism. I wanted to create an experience beyond a print on fabric. I wanted to bring Tom's fantasy to life.
To marry Tom's work with mine, I conceptualized a fictional restoration and construction company, named "Tom's Full Service," which imagines the men from Tom's illustrations as a team of construction workers, restoring classical-style statues. "Tom's Full Service" construction company even has a working telephone number (929-300-3269) featuring the rare audio recording that I found in the archive.
The first drop of the capsule collection, released in summer 2020, focused on Tom's world, work, and philosophy. Each color I used in the designs holds significance. The forest greens represent cruising in nature. The blacks and charcoal greys represent Tom's ink and pencil drawings. The safety green and safety orange refer to construction workers' uniforms. And the pinky peach is an allusion to the peach emoji.
The second drop is a wink (and maybe a whistle) to the working man. We took another step toward the fictional "Tom Full Service" construction company and designed the worker's "uniform" with a touch of poetic sentiment. The added blue color, a signature color in my work, is a tribute to the famous French workwear "bleu de travail."
What is it about the HOMOCO and Tom of Finland brands that made sense of a three-way collaboration?
The human form. It was easy to link the three together as we all explore, celebrate, and represent the physical form in relation to inner worlds and identity.
I think Homoco invited me to partake in this threesome because of my perspective as a gay artist currently working with body and sensuality. My creative challenge was to reconcile Homoco's mission as a brand for all queer people with Tom of Finland's uniquely masculine world.
The collection does this by acknowledging Tom's work as revolutionary for being one of the first moments since the Renaissance that men were depicted in art as a sexualized object of desire.
You are reexamining Tom of Finland's use of the male form for 2020. How are you bringing this to life?
I hoped to do so by introducing Tom's world to sculptures of queer figures in classical style, placing Tom's Full-Service workers in a position to attend, examine, and admire the diversity of bodies. The artwork for the collection shifts the narrative from the idea of pure musicality into a more inclusive mindset, capturing the rise in consciousness we are experiencing in our community toward acceptance to all.
Tell me a little bit about your visit to the Tom of Finland archive. What was that like?
First and foremost, I highly recommend setting up a visit when that becomes possible. The place itself is rich with stories that give so much more depth to the Foundation and Tom's work. I had the pleasure of meeting Sharp and Durk, who run the Foundation. Sharp gave me a detailed tour, sharing both Tom's story, the history behind the house, and the Foundation's extended activity.
It was surreal to see Tom's work in person - I've seen these images my entire life, but to see them in person was another thing. The Foundation is in Tom's old house, which is dripping with sex. I have to say, it was an unusual experience being there to do research while also wanting to lean into pure hedonism. I felt like I was in a vortex that allows one to reflect and experience being a queer/gay sexual being with no boundaries or judgment.
The color blue is important to this capsule. How come?
Blue has always been a color in my designs and work. It became even more dominant for my first solo show and collaborations with the legendry Parisian concept store Colette. In the second drop, the color landed itself as a nod for the classic French workwear and tied it to the capsule story.
A portion of all sales will go to SAGE (an advocacy and community services organization working with the elder queer community). What is it about SAGE that is near and dear to you?
For all of their collaborations, HOMOCO brings in a non-profit that will add meaning and purpose to the product. Since the whole project marks Tom's 100th birthday, we thought that SAGE - the oldest and biggest group in the USA working with queer elders - was a natural choice. Just like Tom, our queer elders stood up against injustice and intolerance so that we can live our lives as out queer people today. We owe them so much, and this was a way for me to start to say thank you.
What do you want people to take away from this collection?
I want people to celebrate their beautiful selves in the items we created. And anyone who needs a little repair, pick up the phone and call Tom's Full Service (929-300-3269). Seriously.
CREDITS: Images of Amit taken by Matthew Goli, clothing images courtesy of HOMOCO