A photography project that celebrates the diverse world of Edmonton drag will culminate in a set of trading cards and two events in January.
"The main reason for the project was to highlight both the drag artists and the people who are under all the makeup," Brendan Roy, executive producer of Drag.Jpeg, told Taproot. "There's an incredible spectrum of artistry within drag."
By day, Roy is the CEO of Boundless Photo & Film Studios.
"This is actually my 10th year as a photographer, and one of the things that matters most to me is having tangible artwork that's physical and not digital," he said. "Oftentimes, we like to throw things out into the ether with social media, but I wanted people to have something that's collectible."
That's why he created Drag.Jpeg, a 56-card collection that celebrates drag, even though cards weren't the plan at the beginning.
"Originally I wanted to do big metal-canvas prints," he said. "As I started to bring more people on, I needed to kind of rein myself in because eight metal prints could be the cost of all of the trading cards for everybody en masse."
Roy captured 28 drag artists in and out of performer mode for the project, including Twiggy, Pepper, Gemma Nye, Vanity Fair, Tequila Mockingbird, and more. Helping him were Emma Grant, Alex Drost, Ramona Elhert, and Aldynne H. Belmont — the latter of whom has written about drag's history and event protocols for the Drag.Jpeg blog.
"One of the things that I say is 'drag artists' instead of just 'drag queens,'" Roy said. "For some people, drag is a way that they express their gender identity. For some of them, it's just affirmation of their gender identity. We have male-presenting people who present a male aesthetic for their drag. We have drag kings, we have drag things, we have aliens, we have everything that you can imagine."
In addition to dispelling the idea that drag is simply cisgender men impersonating women, Roy wants to combat bigotry against drag artists.