To commemorate the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on marriage equality, a small startup company is busy at work producing Love Wins in Every Color, a series of 24 striking designs featuring some of the most important milestones in the lives of all couples. From falling in love to engagement, marriage, and parenthood, the series celebrates equality and the diversity of love through the vibrant depiction of same-sex couples from many different walks of life.
Love Wins in Every Color was created by The J Subset, a design boutique started in 2015 by best friends Joshua Marz and Jordan Fletcher, who first met in 2008 while working together at a diner in Brooklyn. Jordan has since moved back to her hometown of Atlanta, while Joshua continues to live in New York City, where he works as a graphic designer in exhibitions for the American Museum of Natural History.
For Fletcher and Marz – whose friendship has only grown through the years, despite living nearly a thousand miles apart – the idea to start their own design company was born out their shared interest in comic characters, fairy tales, scary movies, books, and gift-giving, as well as their love of written correspondence.
“Both of us work full-time jobs to pay our bills,” Marz notes.
“Although we love our day-jobs, we are dedicating our nights and weekends to our dream of growing a small design business together, a journey that’s as exciting as it is terrifying!” Fletcher adds.
Launched in late 2015 with very limited funding but great enthusiasm, The J Subset has already produced a variety of greeting cards, posters, and other print materials inspired by such classic tales as Aladdin, Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland. The last of these is available as a series, featuring a dozen stunning images inspired by some of the most exciting episodes in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, whose 150th anniversary was celebrated last year with events and exhibitions all over the world.
The arresting visuals of The J Subset’s designs are inspired by Marz’s fascination with color and movement – a reflection of his background as an acrobatic dancer. One of the trademarks of his design work is the featureless depiction of the faces of the scenes’ protagonists – an invitation for viewers to think of themselves as the heroes of their own stories. Some of the designs for The J Subset are collaborations between Marz and another close friend, the Chicago-based artist and illustrator Collin Joyce.
For Love Wins in Every Color, The J Subset’s newest line of print products, Marz and Joyce collaborated on 24 colorful pictures that showcase the true diversity of love. Featuring Marz’s characteristic featureless faces and depicting couples of many different backgrounds, the designs commemorate the Supreme Court’s recognition on June 2015 that the Constitution of the United States grants everyone the right to marry who they love regardless of their sexual orientation.
“This breakthrough in the decades-long LGBT struggle for true equality has already bettered the lives of many across the country, including some of our closest friends and relatives,” Marz says. “At the same time, the vicious reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision by scores of religious conservatives everywhere reminds us that the fight for true equality goes on.”
The decision to produce Love Wins in Every Color likewise stems from the scant presence in retail shops of print products featuring same sex couples.
“The tremendous progress made in recent years in terms of LGBT rights has yet to be reflected in the greeting card section of stores across the country,” says Fletcher, who handles The J Subset’s production logistics and finances. “We think there’s a need to make the LGBT community more visible in print in ways that move beyond traditional stereotypes about same-sex couples.”
As a small business startup, The J Subset’s greatest challenges are exposure and funding.
“So far we have been able to successfully print two design projects,” Fletcher notes, in reference to The J Subset’s Figment and Alice series, which are available for purchase on the company’s website and are also being distributed at small conventions and a handful of bookstores. “We are now ready for our Love Wins In Every Color series to become a reality as well, but we need a lot of people to see our designs, and a little help funding the production of our first round of inventory, which we are currently trying to secure through a crowdsourcing campaign.”
Two weeks into its month-long run, the funding campaign for The J Subset’s latest series has already raised nearly two-thirds of its goal through dozens of small contributions from people in many different cities.
“It’s both humbling and inspiring to have family, friends, and even people we don’t know supporting a design project that means so much to us personally,” Marz says.
His and Fletcher’s plan is to have the series printed by June to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, and right on time to be able to promote it at several LGBT pride events throughout the summer. As for new series to follow Figment, Alice, and Love Wins in Every Color, Marz is already back at the drawing board working on a few different ideas which will find their way to The J Subset’s website later this year.