Colin Verdi's surreal illustrations of Queer icons, feminist sex toys and tarot

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

If there are a few things we love, it’s iconic drag queen Divine, the mysteries of the tarot pack and celebrations of female pleasure.

So imagine our delight in, um, coming across the work of Colin Verdi, an illustrator whose portfolio effortlessly combines all three.

Colin Verdi, who also works in design, lives and works in Manhattan, having studied his BA in East Asian Studies at NYU and taking an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay at SVA. We can’t get enough of his beguiling, painterly illustration style – especially his series for a feminist sex toy company, Babeland. Some pieces in the series feel photorealist in their detail; playing with light and colour in ways that manage to combine clarity with the esoteric.

The images have an almost surrealist bent; you take them at face value before it really dawns on your that someone’s skin is blue, or that a Christmas tree is, in fact, a butt plug. It’s little surprise that one image in the series (that aforementioned tarot number) has been admitted into Illustrators 61, the Society of Illustrators' annual.

Among our other faves in Verdi’s portfolio are his Queer Icons portraits: just look at Divine, resplendent in leopard print, and rendered to perfection using ProCreate on an iPad Pro.

Verdi’s illustration work has been featured internationally in publications such as Interview Magazine, The Protagonist, and MilkxHK magazine; and he’s worked on live drawing projects for the likes of The Metropolitan Opera, Kiehl's, Google, Vox Media, StreetEasy, and the McKittrick Hotel.

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

Digital painting for Babeland Toys

Divine, from Queer icons series

Divine, from Queer icons series

Janelle Monae, from Queer icons series

Janelle Monae, from Queer icons series

George Michael, from Queer icons series

George Michael, from Queer icons series