exposed the artist to the ruggedness of farmers and loggers. After serving in an anti-aircraft unit in Helsinki, he went on to study advertising at university.
During his time in the military, he found himself drawn to the raw, sweaty masculinity of construction workers, sailors, and police officers at the city ports.Tom of Finland not only pushed the boundaries of homoerotic art and censorship in the 1950s and 60s, but his images became intertwined with gay culture and the gay aesthetic of the 1970s until present day.As a lieutenant, he finally got to act on his insatiable libido with fellow (and invading) soldiers patrolling the Eastern Front during World War II.
The temporary blackouts of the streets transpired as the dark concrete cruising grounds of his fantasies. These themes permeated Tom of Finland’s art and served as the unashamed foundation of his future legacy.
It all began with Tom’s “dirty drawings,” which he created privately while working as a commercial artist, unsuspecting that they would one day resonate with gay men worldwide.