Just in time to celebrate his birthday, #TomofFinlandDay on May 8, the seminal gay artist known for his deliciously explicit illustrations featuring hunk-on-hunk action is having a well-deserved moment in the mainstream. In April, a film based on Tom of Finland premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film was promptly picked up for distribution in several territories.
It’s not just Hollywood who’s recently fallen in love with Tom. Earlier this year, the artist got the stage musical treatment in the city of Turku, Finland. The musical told the story of how Touko Laaksonen became the controversial artist, including the laughter, the joy and the “pleasure zone” associated with the transformation. The musical’s premiere was timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence.
Tom of Finland also got a digital tribute this year. His home-country gave him the distinct honor of creating an emoji based on the iconic leather daddy. For all your sexting needs, get the Tom emoji by clicking here.
On top of all that, Tom art exhibits continue to draw curious crowds all over the world. Most recently, Berlin’s Salon Dahlmann gallery had an exhibit exploring Touko’s younger days and earlier works of art.
What Tom of Finland represents is simply something that doesn’t go out of style.
If you didn’t catch that exhibit, you can always pay a visit to TOM House in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The house where the artist once resided has been turned into a makeshift museum of all things Tom, and it’s from where the Tom of Finland Foundation now operates.
“I’m so pleased, of course, that Tom’s work continues — because when an artist dies, oftentimes his work dies, and that has not been the case with Tom,” Durk Dehner, president and co-founder of the foundation, told NBC OUT. “His legacy continues to be valuable and important. You always think, ‘Is this artist going to go out of style?’ But what he represents is simply something that doesn’t go out of style.”
And if you can’t visit Tom’s work in L.A., you can have a part of Tom come to you. The foundation runs a very expansive (and explicit) online shop full of Tom of Finland artwork and memorabilia, including a new series of Tom-inspired skateboards above.
In case you are encountering Tom of Finland for the first time, here are some of our favorite illustrations to help you get acquainted.
Featured Image: Tom of Finland Musical