Update since this interview was first published … Tony has designed two fantastic t-shirts which are now on sale at TheMoodyBear.com. The two designs are Leather Sir and Feelin’ Piggy, both modelled by Tony himself in the photo below. Go get yourself one – or two!
Many of you who have been to Brighton Bear Weekend and other events around the UK in previous years will be familiar with Tony, a hugely talented freelance artist who lives in Hampshire. We’ll let him introduce himself …
Can you please tell us about yourself and what you do?
My name is Tony Elias. I’m originally from Syria (and yes, it’s my real name) but now I enjoy life as a single bear living on a farm at the edge of the New Forest. I like the sunny side of England and spending time with my pets, including my geese, ducks, peacocks, dogs and a rescued Arabian cat called Pous-pous.
I worked for over 17 years as an Art Director/Graphic Designer. During my career I’ve lived and worked all over the Arabian Gulf including Dubai and Qatar. I’ve been resident in the UK now for over 4 years and I’m loving all the friends I’ve made while I’ve been here.
When I’m not painting or illustrating, I am either playing rugby or spending time with my furry family, by which I mean my pets!
Have you been to any of our events before?
Oh god, yeah! Many times before. I’m always excited about meeting up with lots of handsome, friendly bears from around the globe, as well as catching up with old friends and making new ones. I loved last year’s setup with the picnic in the park, the food people brought, the new t-shirt design, not to mention the music later that night which was awesome.
The bear movement began as a non-judgmental community for men of all shapes and sizes; body image and self-esteem are still important issues for gay men. Do you feel that events like ours and others promote this still?
Absolutely, Brighton Bear Weekend is the perfect environment not just for bears but for the whole gay community. Personally, I always had issues with my body image when I was younger; I didn’t like my appearance. It took me a while to accept myself and love myself the way I am. Such gatherings are the right place to boost self-confidence and are a great opportunity to meet those hot men from social media sites and have a chat with them. It’s a great feeling when you receive a compliment or a cheeky look in return.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Mainly poppers … oh, you mean … hmmm … being a freelance artist, I enjoy painting and illustrating. I was creative director and did a variety of digital paintings for several magazines around the world. I also enjoy painting on canvas from my everyday farm life, and I am fascinated with the manly bear figure. I’m working on a series of original paintings showing the bear figure promoting all shapes, ages and sizes.
How can people see and buy your artwork?
Do you have any exciting plans for the near future?
I am currently working on a series of children’s books called Grizzly and Goose based around my life on the farm and the relationship I had with my pet goose Wazzeh, who recently had a terminal illness and passed away, but this sudden goodbye has made me even more determined to finish and publish the first book in the series. Watch this space!
We will, Tony. Thanks for talking with us!