FB x PRIDE18: Dan Polyak on Confidence, Community and Year-Round Pride
This is the fifth in a series of interviews with six collaborators behind the PRIDE18 Poster, a Pride-themed series of screenprints commissioned by Facebook to celebrate Pride this year.
We like to imagine that Dan Polyak is good in a crisis.
He’s certainly not afraid of a challenge. We’d stumbled upon his work — which features bold typographic, iconic imagery and pops of color — too late. Our collaboration group was already complete. And then suddenly, it wasn’t.
The Chicago-based graphic designer was in the thick of a conference in Los Angeles when he received what in retrospect was a thinly veiled SOS. You know the type: we love his work and are one collaborator down, and might he interested in stepping in? Oh and also, first delivery is tomorrow.
He said yes. And then the next day, he flew home to Chicago, sat down (we guess?) and delivered 1990’s RuPaul just like that. But why’d he do it?
I decided to participate because I feel like my point of view as a queer-creative is different than a lot of my peers so I wanted to show off a more edgy side of queer design.
What does PRIDE mean to you?
Pride to me is about more than a month-long celebration — to me, Pride is about waking up every morning, looking in the mirror and being happy with who you are fundamentally. Pride is about ourselves as well as our communities and what we do to help foster them.
How did you choose the subject for your piece? Why did you select that subject in particular?
I wanted to choose someone from the 1990’s to early 2010’s who really pushed the envelope for LGBTQ culture and visibility. This person is a huge reason drag queens and queer people all over the world have felt they could be themselves.
I chose RuPaul because in the last three decades she has been able to turn a taboo art form into a lucrative mainstream pop-culture phenomena.
What would you like people to get from your poster?
I really wanted to showcase the punk/alternative mentality of the 90’s — I wanted my piece, amongst the others, to cause chaos and break the mold. I did this because I wanted to embody what drag-culture is about, fundamentally it’s being punk; it pushes gender boundaries, causes polarizing conversations and questions what we’re told is normal.
How was your experience as a collaborator on this project?
I was added to the project the day before art was due… so there was a lot of catch-up for me to play. My first two drafts weren’t really getting where I wanted to go but my collaborators’ feedback helped me develop my concept and design.
Your poster was part of a series created by different artists. How, if at all, did working as part of a group shape your design?
Any closing thoughts?
I’d like to use this moment to remind everyone around the world that PRIDE is about more than rainbow flags and a month-long celebration — our work doesn’t end when June does. In the months between, look into ways you can help foster your community; donate your time and resources to the people around you, we are stronger together.
Some LGBTQ foundations I’d like to give a shout out are:
Pride is one of the most significant cultural moments at Facebook. This year the team at Facebook Analog Research Lab commissioned a series of posters to celebrate Pride, each one by a different designer. The six individual prints each spell out a single letter or number “P”, “R”, “I”, “D”, “E” and “18”.
They partnered with our studio to produce the set. And we, in turn, had the immense pleasure of inviting designers into a collaboration process across borders and time zones. Over four conference calls, designers jointly decided on a conceptual approach and workshopped their posters from initial rough drafts through their final design.
This project was championed by Analog Lab creative directors Scott Boms and Leonardo De La Rocha, alongside PRIDE stakeholders at Facebook.