Who are you, where are you and what do you do?
We are Jamie Atherton and Jeremy Lin, and as a codependent couple we make stationery and paper goods and art things under the name of Atherton Lin. We are in London.
What are you currently working on?
The 2012 wall calendar, which is all about taking walks in Britain. And wedding invitations; we seem to be getting asked to do these more, both for straight weddings and gay partnership ceremonies.
When did you come out and what was the story?
Jeremy came out at 18 while he was at UCLA, because he can’t keep his mouth shut. Jamie was very British about it and never really said anything; his family just sort of met Jeremy and everything was fine. We’re very lucky to have such good folks.
How does being queer affect your work, if at all?
Well, each of us has created stuff in the past, writing and drawing and photography, that is more explicitly queer. But together we just naturally tend to focus on other stuff: Landscape, music, all kinds of things. There’s a theme of coming-of-age in our work so illustrating that from a gay perspective surely casts a certain tone. We use a set of recurring characters, like the Peanuts gang, and two of those characters are the hoodie boys: A gay couple who are always kissing with their hoods up. We’ve had requests to create a lesbian couple but it hasn’t happened yet. Things need to evolve naturally in order to feel truthful. We’ve been in talks about putting the hoodie boys on a skateboard deck. That feels sort of subversive, because the skateboarding industry is dominated by straights and the gay side of it seems to be pretty closeted.
In your mind, what should gay pride be and how would you celebrate it?
Being proud is a challenge on different levels. There is the public level, in which we still need to fight for basic civil rights. And that’s why you still need parades and petitions and everything. And then there is a personal level, which involves the question: To what extent is my identity informed by my sexuality? For a lot of our peers and friends, there was a process of coming to terms with sexuality, and then trying to figure out whether you fit into gay culture. When we were featured by Attitude magazine, a gay publication, the angle was: These guys are drawing pictures for gays who are into Belle and Sebastian, not the typical homo imagery. In terms of celebrating gay pride, we’re all for people going out and having parades and street parties. But that’s not really our style these days. Gays celebrate pride all the time, just by hanging out with other gay friends. You indulge a sense of humour that’s informed by shared experiences, which incorporates a lot of bullying and pain and stuff, but also good sex and funny stories, too. And we’re always really happy to meet people who are in touch with queer art and literary history. It’s a long tradition of rigorous, challenging, sensitive work that comes from the perspective of men and women outside the social norm. And that’s a kind of gay pride, to feel invested in that legacy. We try to pay homage to some of our forefathers. Derek Jarman and Bruce Chatwin, for example, are referenced in our next calendar.