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Meet the LGBTI+ member & artist behind our Mardi Gras campaign

To celebrate and bring awareness to Mardi Gras, we teamed up with illustrator, and LGBTI+ community member Daniel Gray-Barnett to create a bespoke artwork that captures the diversity, inclusivity and love this special time represents. We chatted to Daniel to find out what he loves about his profession and what Mardi Gras means to him.

How long have you been illustrating and what drew you to this profession?

I’ve been illustrating for 10 years. I love being an illustrator because it’s such a unique profession - it’s part art, part design, part storytelling. We’re essentially solving problems for people in a visual way, but also doing so with our own unique voice and style. I love that it’s always interesting - every job is different and has its own challenges. 

Why is Mardi Gras so important?   

It’s a time for our global LGBTI+ community to come together and be visible, proud and inclusive. I love being a part of a community that celebrates love in such a big way.

What does celebrating Mardi Gras mean to you?

Mardi Gras is so many things - it’s personal, it’s political, it’s a party! For me, it’s a time to celebrate the adversities we’ve overcome on our journey to self-acceptance and it's about our fight for equality in the greater community. As a fairly new gay dad, it’s become even more important to celebrate as I think about the future that I’d like to see for my child. 

What inspired this piece and what does it represent?

With Covid still a recent memory, I really wanted to do a piece that celebrated our community coming together again. It’s such a colourful, diverse community that is always changing and evolving, and I love that! People are what interest and fascinate me - so this piece represents many of the different people that make up our wonderful community.

How do you represent the spread of diversity within the community in your artwork when it is often all grouped together?

When it comes to depicting people, the fun thing about illustration is having so many tools at hand. I love using colour, so we used all the colours of the rainbow (and a few in between) to show this diverse group of characters. Capturing diversity really comes down to paying attention to the finer details that make each person unique. No two people are the same and our community comes from all walks of life. Whether it’s their colour, shape, size, hair (or lack thereof), accessories, clothes, or costume - every character feels individual and equally celebrated. They’ve each got a story.

If every viewer can find a character that they identify with or that reminds them of someone they know, then I’ve done my job.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

My family. People watching. I love collecting vintage children's books and records. I live in Tasmania so the great outdoors is always a source of inspiration. 

How would you describe your art style?

Bright, organic, expressive and fun.

Don't miss the Mardi Gras celebrations at your local Westfield - visit the What’s Happening page on their website to find out more.

We recognise the unique role of Māori as Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

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