It’s June which means it’s Pride Month! However, for me and other LGBTQ+ people, pride doesn’t last for just one month – it’s year round. It’s in this political moment that I want to encourage everyone to continue to celebrate and support the community year round and not just for the month of June. Constant action and support is required to achieve diversity, rather than simply create the illusion of its presence. Visibility always means invisibility for others unless we commit to making sure all voices are heard. One of the best ways to support the community, besides donating to LGBTQ+ organizations, is to support LGBTQ+ artists. This Pride Month I want to encourage everyone to stand up, show up, and — most importantly — speak up year round. Below are some of my favorite artists at the moment.
Char is one of my favorite tattoo artists, so I was excited to see they had their own Threadless Artist Shop! Their art is like an exhilarating brightly hued daydream. Their play with kitsch and color paired with stylized text is enough to make you want their art on your body forever. Until you can make that a reality, you can purchase some of their products to hold you over.
"My name is char and I use they them and I am non binary! [My designs are influenced by] kitsch thrift finds, queer magic and resilience, and my clients more than anything!"
Adair’s art is cute, but, more than that, each figure is filled with character! In their art we get a sense of the subject’s complexity through a gesture and through the expressiveness of the face. (The eyes say it all).
“My artwork is inspired by personal events that affect me, the ones I love, and even those I don't know but I see their distress. From the music I hear, what I see on TV, to what's happening in my community, this is a way that I show support for others as they face life's obstacles as well as working out my own difficulties. I'm not the greatest with words so my art is the best and [truest] reflection of my life.”
Rosa Laura is another one of my favorite tattoo artists! Their work is reminiscent of a pool of water with light refracted and reflected on its surface. The almost hypnotic warps and waves of their art is available on their ungendered products in their Threadless Shop!
"My work is proudly related to who I am so I made [the Trans Colors Make Me Happy] design to celebrate being trans! I chose to use the flag’s colors because they are [seen] in pride parades all over the world symbolizing transgender pride, rights and remembrance. Wherever I am, if I see the flag, I feel protected. I know this community brings caring and awareness to change the world and many times it is through a lot of pain, so spread the word: trans is beautiful! Respect!"
The bright, colorful artwork of the artist ggggrimes presents a variety of identities. The bold hues that surround and make up ggggrimes’s subjects are an expression of a boldness of character. Their work casts aside gender norms and normative sexuality instead opting to represent a realistic image of the bodies and, more importantly, the vivacious essence of the people centered in their work.
“My art, especially on Instagram, is primarily a safe space for queer people of color. I want my queer siblings to have validation for their identities, and feel a joyous connection to the people I paint who live happy, beautiful, colorful, love-filled lives.”
Once again I present another one of my favorite tattoo artists! Sanyu’s sensual yet dark art has an undercurrent of the mystical. Their work displays a reverence for feminine energy but with a twist of darkness representative of the duality and allure of nature.
"We are at a pivotal moment, a gateway to a new chapter in art. In this new chapter I want to grow an audience that is more intentional than ever in how they look at my work as a black queer artist. I want my audience’s gaze to be curious, challenged, empowered, and to perhaps even have a spine-chilling moment, yet continuously be drawn back as though something is beckoning them to continue looking. And to support my work, to buy my work and to buy more queer black art."
Don’t let the color palette fool you! Wishcandy’s pastel haired, oft tattooed, figures are more than the sweet candy colored backgrounds might imply. What I love and find inspiring about their work is the combined feeling of joy through the experience of color and an emotional relation to each subject. The juxtaposition of the sweet, saturated color scheme and the subject’s toughness or vulnerability truly captures the complexity of being.
"I intended to make art that depicts women with depth, when I started posting it online. Tired of seeing women portrayed by men, in a flat objectifying way. I wanted to be heard. As time went on, I began to accumulate more experience, lived, traveled, and read. My art shifted along with my identity as a queer, black, asian, non-binary person. My focus became queerer and more racially varied over time. The mind changed first and the art slowly catches up. I want to show BIPoC without societal constraints. Let us be in a rage, sobbing, or happy as hell. Packaged up in bright colors, that I’ve grown up around since childhood, reflecting a feeling of home. Influenced by horror, nature, street fashion, food, and spirituality."