As anyone who's ever done it knows, dating (and sex) can be seriously awkward. None of us are immune to the occasional mid-make-out teeth bump, misinterpreted text, or ill-timed bodily function — but people with disabilities face even trickier considerations than these when it comes to love and lust. That's why Scope
, a U.K. nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities, launched its End the Awkward
campaign to encourage open discussion about dating with disability — and called on celebrated graphic artist Pâté
(Paul Pateman) to help do it.
The team in charge of Scope's advertising approached Pâté with an idea: to create an illustrative alphabet to normalize sex and disability, with each letter based on a video, image, or story submitted by a person with disability.
Pâté agreed immediately. "I loved the idea of an A-to-Z of sex and disability that takes a raunchy and light-hearted approach to debunking the myth that disabled people don’t have fulfilling sex lives and relationships, when nothing could be further from the truth," he tells us. "I hope people enjoy it on a visual level and that it makes them smile. I think irreverence and humour are great persuasive tools, they have a way of making people relax and listen."
Pâté applied his signature colorful, reductionist style to "The A-To-Z of Sex and Disability." "I tend to overdraw, then take away as many of the unnecessary elements as I can so that the illustration doesn't get in the way of the idea," he explains. "I really like the A...It imbues all the things I like in an illustration. Concept-led, simple, witty, beautiful. The S and the Z were super hard — trying to get a balance between my style, naturalistic human forms, and letterforms almost broke me!"
Pâté pulled through. Now, each of his letters is both a visual pun and the symbol of a story that lives on Scope's blog
. Click through for a tour of this unique alphabet and the experiences behind it (and for more Pâté, head to his playful Instagram