I see you

Volunteering is important to me and one thing I do on my spare time is to volunteer for Seta’s Gender Diversity Committee. I was accepted in the committee in 2021 and so far I’m loving the work. 💕 We are all volunteers and we aim to bring attention to issues impacting those in gender minorities – but we try to do that in a positive, uplifting way.

For the Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) in 2021 we were brainstorming different ways to celebrate the community and what issues to highlight. Outside the committee work, I had been pondering the day as well and I had hatched the idea on offering free, digital portraits for those in the gender minorities. Tentatively, I asked the others in the committee, if this project could be part of our official activities – to my surprise, everyone was very excited by the idea and so we included my little portrait project to the day’s activities!

I named the project Mä nään sut, which is Finnish for I see you.

Proof of concept: a portrait of my partner, Eetu.
Proof of concept: a self-portrait.

As I’d have to paint multiple portraits on a relatively short time, I painted two pieces just to measure how quick I’d be. To my surprise, one portrait only took couple of hours of work. So I went on ahead with the project. On the 31st of March (that’s when TDOV is celebrated every year), I announced the project on my Instagram account. I waited on pin and needles to see, if anyone would even be interested. Once again I was surprised when people asked to have their portraits painted! I was overjoyed.

I instructed the participants to send me a selfie they’d like me to use as a reference. For some trans people TDOV can be quite stressful as well: many people cannot be visible comfortably or even safely. So it was up to the participants to decide, whether I could publish the portraits and if it would be okay for me to name them as my models. I was very grateful that all of the participants gave me their consent to publish the final portraits, though couple of them wanted to remain anonymous.

This project was very satisfying for me, both on a professional and a personal level. Many of my friends and followers were delighted by this project, and I’m happy I could use my skills to uplift people.

The portraits were created digitally in during the March and April of 2021. My tools included Wacom Cintiq -pen display and Adobe Photoshop 2021.