New beginnings, queer joy, and dynamic colors take center stage in this Pride-themed collection.
Filipino graphic artist and illustrator Jer Dee has released a collaboration with Nike for Pride month. Available now in Manila and select regions in Asia, the collection interprets the meaning of LGBTQIA+ Pride and reimagines the experience of “coming out” after several pandemic-induced lockdowns.
“I wanted to imagine what it would feel like if queer people simply existed as they are. What would that look like, if they are allowed to live just like everyone else? I wanted to show how nice that would be,” Dee says.
For this collaboration, Dee produced four designs—all of which were first hand drawn then digitized by the illustrator. The collection is inspired by two things: a recent beach trip with friends that allowed Dee to feel a sense of renewal, or new beginnings; and the local LGBTQIA+ community, which he describes as a “fierce and courageous community who raised [him] to be at [his] most authentic self.”
It is also the nurturing spirit of the community that helped Dee’s pandemic-induced isolation and anxiety bearable. He shares: “I lived mostly alone during the height of the pandemic. I heard stories of queer people who experienced the same thing. Others, meanwhile, were stuck with their families and some of them are not very accepting. Either scenario could affect anyone’s mental well-being.”
“So for this collection, I want to show them that the hard part is over at least for now. We can now come out, be with friends, and experience moments of happiness,” he adds.
Dee’s designs exude the feelings of joy, liberation, and lightness—a sharp departure from the usual portrayal of queerness in many mainstream media materials. His artworks look like postcards from a future where things are bright and beautiful. They show a version of Pride that celebrates being queer—the inviting, sensitive, and caring side of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The collection, which can be viewed and purchased at the newly-redesigned Nike Park in Bonifacio Global City and in Nike Bangkok, Nike Jewel, and Nike Mumbai, is Dee’s second collection with the global fashion retailer. Last year, the artist also released a dance music-themed collection with the same brand.
“I hope people will feel what I intend them to feel. It’s a very special project for me and I am thankful to Nike for giving me the opportunity to express a message that’s very dear to me and my community.”
On Filipino Queer Talent
Dee’s collaboration with Nike casts a spotlight on Filipino creatives—particularly queer talent, which the illustrator considers to be at a distinct level.
“I think [that] the sociocultural diversity and the unique experience of being queer in the Philippines bleed well into the work that Filipino queer artists produce. More experienced creatives have distinct styles and approaches to their work; their output is always deep and authentic. It’s exciting to watch Filipino queer artists grow,” he notes.
Dee also thinks that the adaptability and strong online presence of our creative talent work in their favor. “We connect with others easily. And we work around creative projects well. If anyone wants to collaborate with Filipino artists, all they have to do is to look online and hit us up.”
For those who wish to thrive creatively and work on projects like Dee’s, the artist underscores the importance of two things: constant practice, no matter what the outcome is; and learning to connect with others in the creative industry.
“Go out, talk to people, pick people’s brains, and be open to possible collaborations. The creative industry is very tight-knit and competitive, so you have to get yourself out there. People work mostly with talents they trust.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Dee is currently working on more collaborations with local brands and other creative pursuits.
“I like working with different industries because the challenge is exciting. Aside from that, I’ve also been taking more DJ gigs, since music is also a passion of mine. I’ll be collaborating with different shows and bars in the next coming months, so please stay tuned.”