Happy Mardi Gras! It's one of the most vibrant times of the year in Sydney, Australia as we celebrate the immense culture and community that Australia's LGBTQI+ family have fostered since the very first Mardi Gras in 1978.
The music world has long been an accepting place for LGBTQI+ musicians and creatives, and more than ever the world is celebrating artists from all across the spectrum of sexuality, with musicians like Janelle Monae, Halsey, Frank Ocean, Troye Sivan, Kim Petras, Kehlani, Tyler, The Creator and Sam Smith flying the flag proudly (like Freddie Mercury, Joan Jett, Elton John and more before them).
But we celebrate LGBTQI+ artists all year every year, so this Mardi Gras we're spotlighting some of Australia's best rising visual artists. We enlisted six Australian creatives to choose a song from an LGBTQI+ artist or ally, like flowerkid, Ashnikko or Lara Andallo, and use a lyric that inspires them to create an art piece that best represents them and their art.
Check out the six artists below, including a bit about them and where to find them on Instagram.
Cath Connell @cath.connell
Cath is a Sydney-based photographer and graphic designer who has worked with the likes of MAY-A, The Buoys and more. Cath's picked Carlie Hanson's Ego to visually interpret in a red comic book storyboard style, explaining, Ego is "a song about power and that is something that resonates with me when thinking about the LGBT community, but particularly when looking back on the first Mardi Gras and the Stonewall Riots."
Jessica Johnson @nungalacreative
Warramungu Wombaya woman Jessica Johnson is the intersectional, hyper-coloured, multi-disciplinary creative behind Nungala Creative. An expression of lived experience and commitment to a better future for First Nations people, centred around LGBTQI+ visibility, is front of mind for Jessica. She took on Dua Lipa's Levitating for her piece, portraying a powerful cosmic woman bathed in orange, shining in all her sacred existence.
Samuel Luke @samuellukeart
Samuel Luke Beatty is an artist who works across traditional and digital illustration, creating prints, artist books and embroidery. His practice uses graphic narratives and autobiographical storytelling to explore intimate realities of being transgender to provide position validation, validation, visibility and trans representation. Samuel decided to interpret Rita Ora's new song Bang Bang in collaboration with Imanbek, illustrating Rita in a bold, yellow piece.
Yeevz aka Evie Hilliar @yeevz_
Sydney-based Evie Hilliar creates quirky, sometimes hilarious, always relatable comics and illustrations. She explains, "I knew I was queer from age five, when I made my barbies scissr each other. I mean, my favourite animal is a frog. Water and land? They're bisexual ICONS. On top of that, an unhealthy obsession with Lorde? If this is a phase, it's a bloody era." Evie took on Ashnikko's Deal With It and illustrated green frogs living the good life.
Oliver Vincent @vincentart_designs
Oliver Vincent (he/they) is a Sydney and Central Coast-based creative who specialises in graphic design and illustration, who loves a saturated colour palette and bold lines. Their work overlaps with their passion for the creative industries and LGBTQIA+ symbols and history and aims to bring a contemporary flare to recontextualise modern-day queer lives. Oliver has interpreted Sydney trans star-in-the-making flowerkid's song miss andry, using the lyrics, "you walked away with Mark and my phone started to buzz / better luck next time."
Sam Leighton-Dore @samleightondore
Samuel Leighton-Dore is an Australian writer, director and visual artist based on the Gold Coast, creating everything from bright, adorable Instagram stickers on GIPHY to ceramic tiles and illustations for Sad Man Studio. He explains, "Ever since I was little, music has both soundtracked and shaped the way I feel joy and hope. I guess the blueprint for the life I wanted for myself came from music, because I couldn't see it." Samuel chose Aussie R&B artist Lara Andallo's On My Mind to interpret with a purple minimalist illustration.
Check out the Official Mardi Gras playlist to get in the mood for this weekend, and make sure you flick a follow to each of the creatives we've spotlighted.