Tom of Finland was a wildly prolific artist in his lifetime, creating over 4,000 works. Of those, he created nearly 50 works for Toms Saloon in Hamburg. Our “Face to Face” pattern is taken from one of those works created for the bar.
It’s a graphite on paper drawing that Tom created in 1977. Less than a decade after the Black Cat protests and Stonewall, the work presents unapologetically and proudly an image of gay sexuality. The two men stand facing each other, their pants pressed against one another, one of the men about to play with the other’s nipple, while that man casually dangles a cigarette from his lips. There is nothing furtive here, nothing secretive here.
No, instead what we have here, as we do in all of Tom’s work, is a display of strength and fearlessness, represented not just by the leather gear worn by these men, but also by their actions. The casualness and directness with which they engage with each other erotically declared to the world, to the viewers, and to a generation of gay men, that there was and is nothing shameful in gay sexuality.
That message of his continues to be spread numerous decades later, his ethos having influenced generations of gay men and artists that followed in his wake. It’s a message continued even further now with our “Face to Face” line of products.