Bimini Bon-Boulash fronts one of three digitally rendered covers for Gay Times magazine’s latest issue

The creative team behind three new covers for the magazine, also featuring Munroe Bergdof and Jade Thirlwall, tells us how they tackled the mammoth project.

22 November 2021

Just when you thought that magazine covers couldn’t get any more ambitious, Gay Times has revealed three new covers featuring icons of the LGBTQIA+ community. Bimini, Munroe Bergdof and Jade Thirlwall are fronting the newest issue centring around the Gay Times Honours awards show, which took place last Friday. Having risen to the ranks of a drag icon post-UK Drag Race participation, Bimini Bon-Boulash, East London’s “bendiest bitch” (as quoted in the show), who won this year’s Drag Hero award, stands in a CGI garden in front of a giant pink cushiony, shiny structure, having climbed from ex-intern at Gay Times to one of its most recent cover stars.

Bergdof and Thirlwall, who won the British Community Trailblazer and Allyship awards respectively, also stand engulfed in fluid and futuristic CGI structures. Photographed by Reece Sweeney, “each cover story focuses on a different theme being exhibition, cinema and theatre,” Sweeney tells us. “Bimini’s story was inspired by gallery spaces and installations, so we collated a lot of interior references, and began to sketch out ideas together prior to the shoot and on set,” continues Sweeney.

Lead CGI artists Ryan Vautier and Sarah Blomey claim they “were really involved throughout the project. Sweeney and the Gay Times team invited us to set for all three shoots,” the two tell us, “meaning we could explore ideas in physical space and feel the energy and vibe of the set.” The artists explain that with other projects, CGI often becomes involved at the last stage, which they say “can leave you a bit disconnected” from the project.


Reece Sweeney and Ben Dosage: Munroe Bergdof for Gay Times (Copyright © Gay Times, 2021)


Reece Sweeney and George Jasper Stone: Jade Thirlwall for Gay Times (Copyright © Gay Times, 2021)


Reece Sweeney and George Jasper Stone: Jade Thirlwall for Gay Times (Copyright © Gay Times, 2021)

For this project, Blomey and Vautier’s experience was “truly collaborative”; they were involved in the creative process as artists from the get-go. It was important for Sweeney to have the CGI team on set during the cover story shoots: “lighting is a key component in my photography and for the team to be able to respond to everything in real time helped bring it all together,” he tells It’s Nice That. Sweeney further explains that as each CGI artist took the lead on one cover story, he worked closely with Blomey and Vautier on the majority of Bimini’s cover.

Ben Dosage, another CGI artist on the creative team, also created one of the images for the Bimini story, but Dosage’s story was Bergdof’s, which follows a similar visual motif intermixing nature with computer generated art. Whereas Thirlwall’s cover featured less foliage and more lights and wires in a soft, dreamy mood, created by artist George Jasper Stone. “We had a team of four CGI artists working across the three covers,” add Vautier and Blomey, “which was slightly challenging logistically, especially as we didn’t all work in the same software.” Some artists chose the C4D software whereas others chose Blender – “Blender is better,” claim the Bimini duo. Once the CGI team had a plan for how they would split the images, it meant they could work together by “giving feedback and helping each other develop ideas, as well as sharing technical tips and tricks.”

Vautier and Blomey point to Bimini’s creativity which “cannot be put in one box (although we did literally put her in a box in one image)." However, they wanted to be playful with their ideas, “so that each image represented a completely different character.” The two artists explain that they also responded to the fashion direction from Umar Sawar and the team, which informed a lot of the colour palettes and details.

GalleryReece Sweeney, Ryan Vautier and Sarah Blomey: Bimini Bon-Boulash for Gay Times (Copyright © Gay Times, 2021)

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Reece Sweeney, Ryan Vautier and Sarah Blomey: Bimini Bon-Boulash for Gay Times (Copyright © Gay Times, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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