proud work

Popular illustrator creates fantastical landscapes from pride flag designs

An illustrator named Haley Newsome—who goes by LavenderTowne on social media—is famous online for her comics and character designs. Her YouTube channel, for starters, has attracted more than 1.7 million subscribers and more than 286 million views.

And for nearly three years now, Newsome been turning LGBTQ+ pride flags into fantasy illustrations.

Related: Gay mountaineers take rainbow flag to world’s highest peaks

In the first video in the series, uploaded in time for Pride Month 2019, Newsome made art from the original rainbow flag, one version of the lesbian pride flag, the bisexual pride flag, and the transgender pride flag. That video has gotten close to 1.8 million views and more than 150,000 likes to date.

Later that year, Newsome created illustrations from three more pride designs: the pansexual pride flag, the asexual pride flag, and the nonbinary pride flag.

And last month, she returned to the format for three more pride flags: the Progress Pride Flag, the “sunset” version of the lesbian pride flag, and the aromantic flag. (That last addition was inspired by animator and YouTube user Jaiden Animations discussing being aroace, or aromantic and aseuxal, in a video last month.)

“So the rules of the challenge are that I have to try to keep the colors as close to the stripe placement and the exact saturation that they are in the original flag, which is a special challenge because flags are, um, well, they’re very bright, and they’re very extreme, and they’re sort of evenly distributed,” Newsome says in the latest edition as she narrates her illustration process. “So, creating a full environment and a character within these confines [is] a little difficult, but that’s what makes it fun.”

Related: 30 different pride flags hang together in a stunning celebration of joy and freedom

Not only is Newsome’s artwork incredible, but it could be a low-key way for followers to show their pride, even (and especially) if they’re not out yet. “The whole point of these, really, is to have covert art for people,” she explains. “Let’s say you’re not out yet or whatever, but you want to print this out and stick it on your wall or whatever, you’re free to do that, and you can kind of just have that as your little secret.”