renaissance man

Thaddeus Coates is doing it all, in style

The first thing to know about Thaddeus Coates is that he has superpowers. For the DC-born, Brooklyn-based Fashion Institute of Technology grad, art is a safe space: a place to get in touch with himself and with the things he wants to accomplish in life.

And make no mistake, that list is impressively long. Coates is a dancer, cartoonist, plus-sized model, athlete, and artist. Honestly, there’s not much he can’t do.

Coates, who goes by Hippy Potter on IG, has also been able to do some mind-blowing collaborations. The artist who knew he wanted to draw after watching “The Fairly Oddparents” now has a collaboration with Cartoon Network under his belt. And the opportunities just keep coming.

His first big modeling gig was at American Eagle in 2019, right before the pandemic hit. It catapulted him into “super stardom” after a woman stopped him on the street in New York and asked if he’d like to model some jeans. “We need more people like you doing this,” she said. It was the first time he’d heard that. “It was a Cinderella moment,” Coates explained.

“I knew there was a space for me, because I didn’t see anyone who looked like me.”

That absence of representation started Coates on a path of creating his own. As a Black queer creative, Coates had been trying to find himself in his favorite cartoon and sci-fi characters all his life. Now, he’s making his own stories for a new generation of artists to be inspired by.

“I love paying homage to the early 2000s,” Coates told INTO last year. “It’s just like all those cartoons we grew up with. So every time it rolls around, I’m able to go back into that nostalgia pool and just pull out so many different characters that I could reimagine through a different lens.”

Coates has kept expanding his influence and showing just how much he’s capable of. Since the American Eagle gig, he’s collaborated with (and modeled for) huge brands like Pop Tarts, Pantone, and Savage X Fenty.

So how does he do it all?

“I always make a nice list,” Coates explained on a podcast. “That’s how I manifest everything.”

Fans of Coates’ work know he’ll keep on manifesting even greater goals in the future, as a true Aries king should. Because that’s part of his superpower: being so bright, so creative, and so multi-talented that the world can’t help but stop and take notice.

Pride50Welcome to Queerty’s Pride50. We’re celebrating the members from our community who are responsible for some of the most inspiring and extraordinary moments for LGBTQ people over the last year. See all the honorees