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Owning Stereotypes

A poster series geared toward reclaiming queer stereotypes and educating the masses

by David Graver in Design on 26 June 2013

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There is an inherent power in owning stereotypes. And thanks to Brooklyn-based illustrator Paul Tuller and creative director James Kuczynski, you can own them at home in the form of these vibrant, stylized posters. Each piece was illustrated and silkscreened in Brooklyn by Tuller, while Kuczynski (of award-winning ad agency BBDO) provided art direction for the series. For sale via Society6, a portion of the proceeds go to the "Think B4 You Speak" campaign by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which raises awareness of the use of homophobic words and phrases—such as, "That's so gay." Playful yet astute, each poster tackles a category of a queer association in sharp three or four color silkscreens.

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According to Tuller, he was inspired to create the series based on "interest in how these labels have been reclaimed by the LGBTQ community as something light-hearted, erotic, comical or otherwise endearing." He notes that while these stereotypes had negative connotations, their meanings have changed over time. "Labels of any kind can be polarizing and exclusive, but at some point the community reclaimed these words as something more," Tuller says, "I wanted to celebrate that."

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Kuczynski explained the idea's conception; "I found myself in a gay bar one night and I was overhearing a few guys talking about what stereotype categories they think they fit into. It got me thinking how many stereotypes are there really in the LGBTQ community." Following some research, the idea for a "Guide to Gay Stereotypes" was born the very next morning. The creative team of Kuczynski and Tuller are aware their project can, and will be viewed in different ways—as is often the case with projects that seek to explore and educate about sensitive subjects. "Paul and I talked about the idea of a poster series and we found ourselves thinking, are people going to love it or hate it?" Kuczynski says, and summarizes their intention succinctly: "We don't mean to offend anyone, but instead create a conversation."

The six different posters are available now at Society6 for $18 each.

Images courtesy of Paul Tuller

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