Hippy Potter's vibrant artwork spreads optimism amid unrest

Artist Thaddeus Coates tells the story of one piece that struck a chord in the wake of the pandemic and social upheaval

Published On
Feb 16, 2022

Editor's Pick

Creating impact doesn’t require an elaborate campaign. Sometimes, all it takes is a powerful image. That’s what we see here with the latest talent in our Celebration of Creative Excellence for Black History Month. Thaddeus Coates, also known as Hippy Potter, is a New York City-based artist who creates vibrant, thought-provoking imagery around amplifying Black voices. His images grace work from clients including Instagram, Marvel, HBO, Pyer Moss, Halo Top and more. With technicolor hues and expressive shapes, his art speaks to diversity, Black queer joy and racial equality with both power and playfulness, all tied together by a resounding message of optimism. 

“Thaddeus’ joy is his superpower,” said this week’s guest editor, GLAAD Creative Director Abdool Corlette. “He harnesses it as a mighty tool for change in his art. Before I got the opportunity to work with him on an upcoming campaign, I admired his art for its ability to make me smile. His playful use of nostalgia, cultural references and words of affirmation manage to not only capture the zeitgeist but also reinforce positivity. He makes us all feel like we belong and that representation not only matters but it’s also essential.”

Here, Coates shares the story of a piece he created in response to the grief he felt as social unrest and the pandemic gripped society, ultimately helping to bring a sense of release to others as well. 


Thaddeus Coates


One of the most pivotal and culture-shifting pieces I’ve created is the “When I Say Black Lives Matter, That Includes Queer Black Lives Too” illustration. In 2020, I designed it for my own personal release amidst the pandemic, the wave of civil unrest impacting Black lives and the lack of compassion for Black people experiencing discrimination on a daily basis.

There were so many Black lives lost to police brutality, but even more specifically so many Black queer and trans lives. As a Black queer artist living at the intersection of these minority groups, I felt particularly weighed down by the grief that swept through our community, and so I took to my tablet. There was so much on my mind that I tweeted this graphic and closed the app. 



Queer Lives

I wanted to create something that spoke to the importance of the people directly affected, and I wanted to utilize my platform as an artist to amplify this message. Immediately after I posted the illustration, it had accumulated well of 130,000 shares and 12,000 likes, including “Good Morning America” and “The Shade Room.” I had no clue that something I created could make waves as much as this illustration did.

Even before the height of the BLM movement, I always vowed to share my full self in my art. It is clear to me that amplification is truly the key and pouring into the very communities that poured into me is a cycle I must continue to practice. I want to use my platform as a place to educate, uplift and inform. 

My voice matters, my art matters, and how I see the world as a Black queer man matters.

See more of Coates' (aka Hippy Potter's) work below.


Black Gotham




Black Boy Joy









Feb 16, 2022
Artist :
Thaddeus Coates

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