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Designing costumes for Lady Gaga didn't lead to this artist's big break. A website did.

'For someone who's part of a marginalized community, I feel like I'm finally being seen.'

Designing costumes for Lady Gaga didn't lead to this artist's big break. A website did.

Artist Fin Lee was living the not-so-glamorous freelance life, when they got the gig of a lifetime.

In fact, if you watched the 2016 Grammys, you probably saw their work. They designed and illustrated the costumes Lady Gaga's backup dancers wore during her tribute to David Bowie.

After years of struggling to catch a big break, Lee (artist name: Lostboy), who identifies as queer and uses they/them pronouns, finally got a foot in the door.


Lee's artwork in the style of Egon Shiele (Bowie's artist icon), as well as Bowie's actual hands on jumpsuits for the dancers. Image used with permission.

You'd think designing costumes for Lady Gaga would be a career-changing milestone. But that's not how things went for Lee.

Lee continued to get the occasional illustrator job, but still had to work as a barista to make ends meet. Occasionally, they'd be in the running for a big, exciting gig again, only to watch as someone else got the job instead. Lee noticed a troubling and frustrating pattern to who that "someone else" often was. Though not always the same person, these artists had a few traits in common — namely, they were male, and often white, straight, and cisgender too.

"I think the way our society is — we’re used to seeing a certain type of person in a certain type of field," Lee explains.

By Lostboy. Used with permission.

Employers or potential employers often aren't aware they might have subconscious biases influencing their hiring process, but the data doesn't lie. This is a problem.

According to a study recently published in the American Sociological Review, white men are more than three times as likely to get called in for a job interview than a woman with the same qualifications. And that discrimination gets exponentially worse for transgender women.

So where do you go to find work when a potential employer's subconscious biases about who you are prevents them from seeing the good work you're capable of doing?

The turning point in Lee's career came when they became an early user of a new website called Women Who Draw.

Women Who Draw is a database of artists designed to give marginalized artists visibility and a deeper sense of community in a competitive field. The website specifies that it is "trans-inclusive and includes women, trans and gender non-conforming illustrators."

Photo via Women Who Draw. Used with permission

Lee was brought on as a beta tester by one of the site's creators, San Francisco illustrator Wendy MacNaughton. MacNaughton, together with fellow creator and artist Julia Rothman, hoped Lee, a queer Asian artist, could offer advice on how they wanted to see the site operate.

Lee happily obliged. "It's the first of it’s kind that I’ve seen where it’s so inclusive," Lee says.

By Annelise Capossela. Used with permission.

“Women [on the site] can choose how they want to identify in terms of their race, orientation, location, religion," says MacNaughton. "There are many other ways people identify, but those four seemed very relevant in terms of visibility, and useful for art directors when they’re looking for specific people who might have specific experience, expertise, or perspective."

For employers who want to hire more diverse illustrators, Women Who Draw is an incredibly helpful resource.

Heather Vaughan, an artist and art director for a gaming company, explained over email that "[Women Who Draw] actually came at a really great time. She says she was "specifically looking to find female artists to work with ... since women in games are an even smaller group."

By Heather Vaughan. Used with permission.

Today, Women Who Draw features over 700 artists, with portfolios that are an incredible representation of diversity, both artistically and demographically. Gracia Lam, who is Asian-Canadian and identifies as gay, says that Women Who Draw makes it so much easier for clients to choose illustrators who can help tell "fuller, more well rounded" stories.

By Gracia Lam. Used with permission.

Similarly, Annelise Capossela, a Brooklyn-based illustrator, says that Women Who Draw helps art directors who are looking to diversify their hiring pool and make the conscious choice to search for illustrators and artists who have "uniquely personal insight into certain topics or experiences."

By Annelise Capossela. Used with permission.

Shortly after Women Who Draw's public launch in December 2016, Lee got their first big editorial job.

On Christmas Day, Lee got a call from Rodrigo Honeywell, the Art Director of the travel section at the New York Times, offering Lee an opportunity to illustrate the feature image for an upcoming article.

Honeywell found Lee through Women Who Draw's database.

By Lostboy. Used with permission.

Lee has also seen a major uptick in visits to their website since WWD's database launched — over 600 hits on the first day alone.

Lee has come a long way in the year since the 2016 Grammys. But it was Women Who Draw that really helped them open the door to a full-time career as an artist.

Thanks to all the exposure from Women Who Draw, Lee now has a full-time job with an illustration agency that represents artists. They no longer have to serve coffee.

While that's great news for them, equal opportunities for artists like Lee may diminish under a Trump administration. There couldn't be a better time for a site like this.

"For someone who's part of a marginalized community, I feel like I'm finally being seen," Lee says.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

@SubwayCreatures / Twitter

A man who uses a wheelchair fell onto the tracks in a New York City subway station on Wednesday afternoon. A CBS New York writer was at the scene of the incident and says that people rushed to save the man after they heard him "whimpering."

It's unclear why the man fell onto the tracks.

A brave rescuer risked his life by jumping on the tracks to get the man to safety knowing that the train would come barreling in at any second. The footage is even more dramatic because you can hear the station's PA system announce that the train is on its way.

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