Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Our latest clothing collaboration with artist Thion celebrates the vibrancy and fluidity of queer identity and community as we aim to raise money and awareness for our ongoing LGBTQ+ wellbeing and mental health initiatives.
To acknowledge 'Mental Health Awareness Month' in May and 'Pride' in June, We Create Space partnered up with Art Clubbers CIC, FANGIRL and QUEERCIRCLE to launch the 'Make Your Mark' design competition. We wanted to create a collection not only celebrating the queer community, but also spreading the We Create Space message of self-love, acceptance, and taking time for ourselves. Through this initiative, we crossed paths with Thion, an artist whose work centres around mental health and queer perspectives. Together we created a exciting new collection of merchandise - all available here, and with all profits going toward funding our free mental health workshops and webinars.
Franco La Russa, also known in the artist community as Thion, is an Italian multimedia artist and curator currently based in South London. His work, originally inspired by Keith Haring and American pop artists, has evolved a unique, distinct style that’s truly his own. We sat down with Thion to talk about his personal journey, his artistic process and the unique designs that he created.
Franco, tell us a bit about your own personal journey...
Growing up as a gay boy in catholic Italy I struggled to make sense of my sexuality and identity; who I was, and who I could be. I knew that I needed to put down on paper what I felt inside. I've always been better at expressing myself with drawing rather than words. I've found the creative process a useful outlet since a young age; a way to understand my feelings and the world around me.
Discovering the vibrant gay scene made me want to represent it in my work and convey a sense of freedom that I missed in my early life; an important message to like, and to love, whoever you want. Those themes and the inspiring artworks of artist such as Keith Haring, Jean Cocteau, Matisse and Picasso led me to the path I’m now on. My minimalist style also comes from my desire to express things in a simple, direct way. I'm always searching for “the beauty” in people and capturing the things that fascinate me.
Why did you want to work with WCS?
I feel my work shares similar values as the ones promoted by We Create Space. It's very important that we continue the conversation around LGBTQ+ mental health and wellbeing and I wanted to contribute in any way I could.
Talk us through your artistic style.
Each composition focuses on the shapes that define and unite us as human-beings. By simplifying each individual figure to the point of abstraction, they create these beautiful gender-neutral forms, leaving just enough detail for us to understand, interpret and create our own meaning. The colours and the bold lines become the main component of the composition, and the mask-like faces guide the audience into my work.
How do your pieces represent the queer community?
Inspired by the work at We Create Space, this collection delves into queer identity, connection and community. It’s also a celebration of the 50+ years since the Stonewall riots; the monumental battle for equality that has improved the lives of so many LGBTQ+ people since. Of course, there is still much work to be done within and for the community. And that is why the programmes at We Create Space are so important and necessary.
Each of the designs was inspired by and features colours from the iconic rainbow Progress flag. In these gender neutral pieces, colours become people, shapes become actions and faces capture feelings and emotions. The bold abstract figures are for you to interpret on your own, the definition unique to you.
The 'We Create Space x Thion' collection is now available to purchase here, and 100% of the profits go towards our mission to provide free self-empowerment workshops and wellbeing support for the queer community. Each product is made to order, to keep the process as sustainable and waste-free as possible. Remember to @wecreatespace.co if you post a photo of you in your t-shirt. We'd love to see!