Laaksonen was diagnosed with emphysema in He has been called the "most influential creator of gay pornographic images" by cultural historian Joseph W. Do you want to do business with Sweden? As an artist he was superb, as an influence he was transcendent. The two artists exhibited their work together in New York City in the early s. In his spare time he also started drawing erotic images for his own pleasure,  based on images of male laborers he had seen from an early age.
In September the Finnish postal service, Itella Postipublished a set of three first class stamps featuring drawings by Laaksonen and in association with the stamps' release exhibited some of his correspondence at the Finnish Postal Museum.
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The vivid outfits and rainbow-inspired makeup have come to represent the diversity and pride of the LGBTQ community, while also marking them out for intolerant people. Byhe was publishing erotic comic books and making inroads to the mainstream art world with exhibitions. Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture. He says this life-changing experience only fuelled the project further. InLaaksonen, with businessman and friend Durk Dehner, co-founded the Tom of Finland Company to preserve the copyright on his art, which had been widely pirated. Kowa explains to Dazed: While in Uganda, the team also staged a performance at Ugandan Pride.