“Let’s Go Camping With Tom of Finland” | 28th September | Kendal UK

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (From “Camping”), 1976, Graphite on paper (Colorized), © 1976-2019 Tom of Finland Foundation

Cross Lane Projects is taking part in
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival
with this exhibition

This special show is celebrating the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the birth of Tom of Finland (born Touko Laaksonen), the world’s best loved queer artist, comics creator and gay icon.

From the 1940s on, Tom pushed the boundaries of gay erotic art, creating a style of comics that inspired a generation of gay men to celebrate their sexuality.

“My aim is not to create an ideal but to draw beautiful men who love each other and are proud of it,” Tom, who died in 1991, noted in his book, Tom of Finland: His Life and Times.

“In those days, a gay man was made to feel nothing but shame about his feelings and his sexuality. I wanted my drawings to counteract that, to show gay men being happy and positive about who they were. Oh, I didn’t sit down to think this all out carefully. But I knew – right from the start – that my men were going to be proud and happy men!”

Let’s Go Camping with Tom of Finland has been curated with the Tom of Finland Foundation and Cross Lane Projects, and charts the artist’s career, including his famous Kake comic series and some of his other popular titles, including Camping and the soccer comic, Dick. The exhibition will also explore the work of artists inspired by Tom of Finland, including the well-known American artist, Michael Kirwan.

LICAF, in association with the Tom of Finland Foundation, will produce a series of fine art prints, and a unique publication featuring an entire reprint of Dick to accompany the exhibition.

Tom of Finland: A Personal Perspective
Saturday 12th October at 12:30p


A rare opportunity to welcome and listen to Durk Dehner, Cofounder and President of Tom of Finland Foundation, in conversation with Paul Gravett.

An opportunity to delve deeper into the extraordinary life and works of this gay icon and superlative cartoonist and to find out more about how his legacy lives on.

Booking Required

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (From “Camping”), 1976, Pen and ink, gouache on paper, © 1976-2019 Tom of Finland Foundation

This is a unique, free exhibition, open to those over 18, and part of the official Tom of Finland Centenary celebrations, supported by the Finnish Institute.

On view through 19th October

READ “Speaking at an exhibit of Tom’s work at Cross Lane Projects in the northern English town of Kendal, Dehner, dressed in leather – jeans, jacket and tie – was visibly moved as he looked back on his years as Tom’s friend, lover and muse.”

LISTEN An interview with Durk Dehner, founder of Tom of Finland Foundation and the gay erotic artist’s former lover, muse and occasional model

READ: “Tom of Finland’s style was influential, evident in David Hockney’s swimming-pool paintings, Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion designs and the films of Derek Jarman. Since his death in 1991, Tom of Finlands pop-culture legacy has only increased. “Tom of Finland”, a biographical film, was released in 2017, and the Finnish postal service celebrated his work with a racy set of stamps. Next year, events around the world will mark the centenary of his birth.”


Find TOM’s Foundation in the Main Building, 2nd Floor!

Flier by Lauren Bailey

MODELS Margrethe & Speedboat PHOTO Florian Hetz



Bill “The Hun” Schmeling | 30th April 1938 – 12th September 2019

Bill notes his art tattooed on a fan. ToFF Art Fair, 2002 Photo credit: Dietmar

The Hun was an anchor at Tom of Finland Art Fairs over the years. In 2002, he was inducted into the Tom of Finland Foundation’s Erotic Artist Hall of Fame, only the third person to be so designated at the time, the first being Foundation founder and namesake Tom of Finland, the other being Swiss artist H. R. Giger. “I’m sure Tom of Finland is turning in his grave, the Hun joked from the podium. “I received a note from him once, telling me to keep on keeping on. It was good advice, and I took it, just as I personally delight in coming here each year to feed off your energy.”

A volunteer journeyed from Virginia to model at the Fair and meet a master of homoerotic art, The Hun (r). ToFF Art Fair, 2002



I am grateful to the Tom of Finland Company for making this collection of my artwork available to a wider audience. I hope that you, the reader and patron, will find much here that will delight your eye, spark your own fantasies, and perhaps scratch a private itch or two as well! Very special thanks to Roland Bynum, my partner of seventeen years and counting, and to the late Miles Everitt of Los Angeles, for their kindness and patience in photographing my earlier work. Without the photos, slides and negatives they so lavishly provided me, many pages in this book would not have been possible!

I take this opportunity also to express my gratitude to many other homoerotic- leather-SM-fetish artists – particularly to the late Tom of Finland himself, to the late Dom Orejudos (“Etienne”), to the late Al Shapiro (“A. Jay”), to the late Domino, to the incomparable Rex, and to the indestructible Bill Ward. Though my work does not look like, nor in many ways measure up to, any of theirs, I am continually indebted for the inspiration, liberation and hundreds of man-hours of “free” art lessons that they and their works have afforded me over the years! In some sense, this book is an unwitting by-product of their genius. Many thanks!

Beyond those influences, which are considerable, I am “completely self-taught”, as artists never tire of saying. I have been drawing hunky dudes in varying stages of undress, duress and excess since I was five years old. We are talking long-term fixation here! I have studied the male anatomy at great length and at close range in a wide variety of dimly-lighted places over a long period of years and even now in my dotage still happily discover there is yet so much more to learn! Though my work admittedly lacks the subtlety, refinement and universal appeal of some “real” artists, I am delighted that it seems to put lead in the pencils of so many!  The Hun, 1995

“But the truly fortunate aspect of this work is that the Hun allows us to be pigs, to be as cruel as all hell, to endure excruciating pleasure, and to dish out or take the slimy, grunting, brutal, hairy, messy, expansive limits of taboo kink. And all this happens without committing unsafe acts or cruelty to animals – oh, I mean men. He is the ultimate safe sex provider. Thank you Hun!” -Durk Dehner, 1995

Tom of Finland Foundation is very fortunate to have many works by The Hun in our collections. We will always carry his wisdom and thoughtfulness in our memories.

American artist Bill Schmeling aka The Hun was a resident of Portland, Oregon where he passed surrounded by his family.