As tattoo collectors, we’re accustomed to seeing art imitate life. We frequently base our tattoos around our experiences, opinions and interests, which a tattoo artist manifests into beautiful designs. But for some, tattoos subconsciously become a way for life to imitate art. “I was looking at my tattoos in the mirror the other day and I couldn’t find a feminine tattoo on my entire body,” says Nats Getty, who came out as trans and non-binary earlier this year. “I’ve been getting tattooed since I was 16. Back then, I didn’t really have a clue about who I was as a person, but I was already starting my transition. I was changing my skin to look how I wanted to look and tattooing was the one thing I was able to have control of. I wanted my tattoos to reflect and represent how I feel on the inside.”
It took 28 years for Getty to fully understand his gender identity, but he was encouraged to express himself from an early age. Getty was surrounded by support, which is something that many in the LGBT+ community don’t have. “My upbringing was key to leading me to where I am now,” Getty says. “My mom is the biggest advocate for me being exactly who I wanted to be and supporting me through whatever I was going through. I think without that kind of support, I wouldn’t have gotten to this place.”
Getty’s family not only gave him support to be himself, they introduced him to art at an early age. His entire childhood was captured by his mother, who was a photographer, and he quickly grew an appreciation for all forms of art as his family introduced him to them. Just like many kids, as he got older his passion for his childhood hobby waned, but it never left. “When I was going through my addiction, I was on track to become a lawyer and I realized it didn’t make me happy,” Getty says. “I dropped out of college and I started spray painting. I was angry at the world and angry at myself, so I was like, ‘What’s the most rebellious thing I could do to piss people off? Spray painting.’ Although that wasn’t a cure for my problems, I definitely found therapy in art.”
Getty’s spray painting quickly transformed from a coping mechanism into a profession. Shortly after dropping out of school, he created his clothing brand Strike Oil—whose name is a clear reference to the family’s notoriety in the oil industry—which took his art to a new level. “I needed an outlet for my art and it naturally progressed to spray painting onto jackets,” Getty says. “I made a full collection of these really dope painted leather jackets, and from there it blossomed into a full-blown clothing line. Strike Oil has become an extension of me, and the more I’ve been authentically myself, the better my clothes have come out.”
While Getty has made tremendous progress on his own, no man is an island and he’s had plenty of support from his chosen family along the way. “I think that meeting Gigi [Gorgeous] honestly saved my life,” Getty says. “Without Gigi, I wouldn’t have gotten out of my addiction. I wouldn’t have the strength to look inside and see what was really going on. Knowing Gigi and getting married to her is the absolute centerpiece in me finding myself.
“I always felt different and I never felt comfortable in my body with who I was,” Getty continues. “Then I started spending time with people who were so authentically themselves and I started looking inward. The more I looked inward, the more I realized there was a part of me that I wasn’t letting to the surface. I was in awe of how much I’d been suppressing and when I got into it, I realized that I don’t identify as a woman, but as a trans guy.”
Nats Getty has come a long way and he’s become a healthier and happier person through love, empathy and, of course, art. He’s undergone major transformations, both on the inside and out, to live his most authentic life and now, he’s ready to use his story to help others in the LGBT+ community understand their truth. After all, Getty is thriving today because of the friends and family who’ve shown their support and he’s ready to pay it forward.