Rather than diminishing since his death in 1991, the fame of Tom of Finland (Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen) has only grown.
Famed for his erotic drawings of gay men, last year saw the release of a big screen biopic about his life. In 2014, the Finland mail service produced commemorative stamps featuring some of Laaksonen’s distinctive work. They became the service’s best-selling collection internationally, and are still much sought-after.
Laaksonen relocated to Los Angeles later in life, and the Tom of Finland Foundation in the city continues to highlight his work. It’s given the official stamp of approval to a second collaboration with Helsinki-based skateboard company Happy Hour.
The collaboration came about when Happy Hour Skateboards’ founder Jarkko Poropudas met Durk Dehner, President of Tom of Finland Foundation, at a Mr Leather contest in Helsinki in August 2016.
‘Tom and the boys at Happy Hour Skateboards are forward thinkers’
‘Skateboarding has an element of being radical, walking on the wild side, not holding oneself back,’ says Dehner. ‘And Tom, well, he too let it all hang out and drew what inspired him. Tom and the boys at Happy Hour Skateboards are forward thinkers, freedom seekers.’
Skateboarding has traditionally been seen as quite a macho sport, but that’s changing. In 2016, skateboard champ Brian Anderson came out as gay. California-based Lacey Baker is making a name for herself as a queer boarder, while Calleigh Baker is a trans woman currently skating her away across America.
Happy Hour says its work with the Tom of Finland Foundation aims to help promote diversity in the skateboard community. A portion of the proceeds from the merchandise will also go to the foundation that bears Tom’s name.
Items include hoodies with an illustration of musclebound men floating down a river on logs and the slogan ‘Just Cruising.’
‘I guess log floating was the skateboarding of its time,’ says Happy Hours’ Poropudas.
The range goes on sale from tomorrow at tomoffinlandstore.com