Conversation Hearts: Rooney (NSFW)

Rooney; Illustrator; Brooklyn, NY, USA

Rooney is a 28-year-old proud Aries illustrator, known for his queer-centric, femme-positive, kink-inclusive and socially-relevant pop art works. A beacon of positivity, Rooney champions self-care and utilizes fun, bubbly graphics as juxtaposition to critique the harmful tropes that often plagues queer spaces. Working with the likes of Grindr, Instagram, Converse, OUT Mag, INTO, Them. and Teen Vogue, Rooney’s client work has brought LGBTQ+ culture to the mainstream.

Meanwhile his personal work includes everything from seasonal sex-oriented graphics and tributes to our favorite gay icons, like Carly Slay Jepsen. It also includes politically-motivated merch and queer history lessons. Rooney is also known for his personalized “Rooneytoons” commissions.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

DN: How would you describe what you do?

R: I'm a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. I focus on working with queer clients and/or queer subject matter.

DN: What’s your relationship with Valentine’s Day?

R: I like to say "V-Day is ME-Day." I love Valentine's Day since reclaiming it. It's now a day to celebrate love for myself and love for my chosen family. If people are celebrated for having a heteronormative relationship, I'm gonna celebrate love as I know it. Boundless, unconditional, queer, and taking many forms.

DN: How do you celebrate, if you do (any seasonal Trader Joe’s goodies to look out for)?

R: I make it a point to let people close to me know how much I love and appreciate them, particularly my fellow single friends because we don't get celebrated like couples do. But overall it's a day for me.

I like to spend time on my own indulging in [affordable] luxuries. And that doesn't necessarily mean buying things. Whatever makes me feel fulfilled and celebrated by the end of the day, that's what's important.

DN: How do you see Valentine’s Day and queerness intersecting?

R I think it goes back to reclamation. We get to make it what we want. Valentine's Day is so typically hetero! We have the opportunity to celebrate the ways in which queerness frees us from that structure.

DN: Anything readers should be looking forward to on the Hey Rooney shop. Anything we can spotlight?

R: Nothing in particular. I've been really busy with freelance projects (thankfully). I do have a product/project coming in a couple months so it'll be a while lol. Sorry, not a very exciting answer.

But I'll be doing Rooneytoon commissions more regularly; very grateful for the continued interest in them!

DN: Since Cherry is a fashion + beauty magazine (as well as a wellness magazine), I have to ask: what would your go-to Valentine’s Day look be?

R: My go-to look is both on theme and on brand - a sensible red and pink color clash. Heavy on the blush.

Rooney can be followed @heyrooney on Instagram and more of his work is available to view online at 🍒