Q&A

For Transgender Awareness Month, this artist designed a logo packed with symbolism

Get to know Morgan Sea: comics artist, radio host and designer of this month's CBC Arts profile pic.

Get to know Morgan Sea: comics artist, radio host and designer of this month's CBC Arts profile pic

November design by Toronto-based artist Morgan Sea. (Morgan Sea)

It's Transgender Awareness Month, a time for recognizing the issues facing transgender and gender non-conforming people and raising visibility of the community. For our November profile pic, artist Morgan Sea designed a CBC Arts logo that's teeming with references to trans history (and CBC history) — plus paintings, books and her personal heroes. (There's a lot to process, but she covers it all in this Q&A.)

But first, some quick notes about the artist: originally from Saskatoon, Sea recently arrived in Toronto to do a Masters at OCAD University. In addition to making comics, zines and radio, she's also an organizer of queer community events.

Says Sea via email: "Traditionally, Trans Day of Remembrance (November 20) isn't so much a celebration as it is a sombre acknowledgement of the death toll and violence towards trans people that escalates massively against trans women of colour, sex workers and the homeless."

"Activists claimed the week leading up to TDoR as Trans Week of Awareness, a time to promote activism and solidarity. So now that we have the whole month, maybe we can go beyond awareness and effect material change."

Learn more about Sea and the ideas that went into the design.

Name: Morgan Sea

Age: 34

Homebase: Toronto

Let's talk about your design! What inspired your take on the CBC Arts logo?

Primarily, I was trying to express that trans rights are human rights; that human rights are still important, and that we have a lot of work to do!

I was trying to figure out how to retroactively inject the CBC with 50 years of HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

In 1966, the CBC started using a rainbow butterfly logo (designed by Hubert Tison) for its colour TV broadcast.1966 was also the year of the Compton Cafeteria Riots, an important fight for trans liberation that is less known than 1969's Stonewall Riots. Coincidence, yes! But I'd like to imagine a parallel world where the CBC was always championing queer rights with its anachronistic rainbow butterfly. (The rainbow flag first debuted in 1978.)

Also, butterflies have been an obvious metaphor for transitioning folks for a long time. It is a bit dated, but I couldn't resist using it. I added a genderqueer butterfly in the back and a large trans flag-themed fuzzy moth.

What are some of the other symbols you chose to include in the design? What do they represent?

The image is based on Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. I modelled Liberty's face off of artist/activist Mirha-Soleil Ross. The people are meant to symbolize marginalized groups coming together and they embody various virtues: truth, justice, labour, unity, tolerance, humility and mystery.

The foreground replaces the French Revolution with current struggles that we need to come together to deal with, primarily climate change, wealth inequality, corporatism and fascism. These are huge issues, and we need to embrace the diversity and knowledge of human experience if we want to survive.

Also, with the CBC logo, I added a three-pronged trans symbol for binary and non-binary genders. In the centre sits Claire Diane's "Sigil of peace, ending capitalism, healing trauma and hot trans makeouts," which I first encountered in the book Sea Witchby Moss Angel.

(Courtesy of Morgan Sea)

What's the art project you're most proud of?

I'm a perfectionist with high anxiety so I can only be proud of something for like 10 minutes. That being said, I am still pretty proud of Tranzister Radio, a monthly community radio show that celebrates trans arts and activism. New episodes are still being produced for CKUT in Montreal, but 40 episodes are archived online.

What's inspiring your art these days?

The many wonderful people in my life, hope for a better world, jokes, magic, cryptids and self-care.

Who's the last artist you discovered online?

Devi McCallion (a.k.a. Blacksquares/girls rituals/Mom) is a great solo musician and amazing poet/lyricist who really speaks to hyper-real trans disembodiment that is so relatable. She formed a new band I just found out about called Black Dresses. It's a heavier collaborative project. Buy all their stuff.

What's your favourite place to see art?

I like museums and galleries but don't get out to them that often. I love books. I do spend an excessive amount of time in bookstores like The Beguiling and Glad Day Bookshop browsing comics and art books and queer lit. Also zine fairs are great, but large crowds stress me out!

What's one work of art you dream of owning?

Off the top of the old head, I've always liked that painting of Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi. It's just wonderful, but it's like a pretty big painting, and where would I store it? Hmmmm... (Googles "famous architecture I could live in with my friends forever.") Maybe the Winchester House?

Page from Abominatrix by Morgan Sea. The story of "a trans lady dealing with mixed feelings after using gamma radiation to turn herself into a 'hulking green monster,'" it appears in comics anthology We're Still Here. (Courtesy of Morgan Sea)

Any other new projects on the go that you'd like to mention? Where can we see more from you?

I made a short comic called Abominatrix for an all trans comic anthology We're Still Here. I also illustrated HANDBOOK: Supporting Queer and Trans Students in Arts and Design Education.

Right now I'm working on a top secret graphic novel. I shouldn't have mentioned it. I have a website.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Every month, we feature a new take on the CBC Arts logo created by a Canadian artist. Check out more Q&As with our past contributors.