In the tattoo industry, straight white cisgender men dominate in numbers. It has taken years for sexual, ethnic, and gender minorities to find their footing in tattoo shop—however, today there is more representation than ever before. Queer, female, and artists of color are thriving in the age of intersectionality—sharing their truth through art on skin. One of these pioneers is Mars Hobrecker, a tattooer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most well-known trans artists in the world and is breaking new ground with provocative artistry. We sat down with Hobrecker during pride month to discuss being LGBTQIA+ in tattooing and what our audience should know about the community at large.
Did art have an impact on your gender identity/transition?
I’m not sure if art had a direct impact on my identity, but it definitely opened me up to what was possible. I remember going to see Catherine Opie's retrospective at the Guggenheim when I was in highschool, it was the first time I saw really explicitly queer art in a major gallery and I was blown away. To see work that showcased queer and trans people and allowed them to be sexy, and kinky, but also have families (chosen and otherwise) showed me I wasn't totally alone in my little town. I was just a freaky kid who wanted to make freaky art, and to see work like that exhibited at a major museum instead of existing purely within the glow of my laptop under the covers at night gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe I didn’t actually have to tone myself down that much to do that.