Pandora Torres works alongside her father, The Divine Eye Tattoo, in Albuquerque, as a Queer Tattoo artist. Torres’ presence as a Queer Tattoo artist has helped queer and feminine tattoo clients feel more comfortable.
Torres has been tattooing for three years and says most of her clients are Queer. She said her top priority is ensuring clients are comfortable and safe.
“Spiritually speaking, I feel as though tattooing is a huge exchange of energy, and it would be irresponsible of me to go into such an intimate procedure without making sure that everyone is happy, feels safe, comfortable and – above all – comfortable communicating with me,” said Torres.
Professionally tattooing for over five years, Baby Atchison – a trans tattoo artist and owner of Holy Fool Tattoo Club – said he was drawn to the tattoo industry because he felt like he didn’t belong in normative culture and now wants to ensure a positive experience for others.
Atchison stated, “I am cautious about labelling any space as safe because I do not have control over the internal experience of anyone else.” “However, many of my clients are Queer and trans, with different bodies. They came back to me due to their experience sitting in my office.
Atchison noted that people of colour, LGBTQ+ and women had had difficulty finding adequate representation in the tattoo industry. Atchison stated that the internet has provided Queer artists and Femmes a platform.
Atchison stated, “Here were trans women tattooing, but I had never heard of them or seen their pictures, much less anyone who was like me.” he thinks the industry is changing. Representation is always a factor in making those shifts occur. “Sawyer Sverre Harrell, a Santa Fe-based tattoo artist specializing in the hand-poke technique, works in a private Santa Fe studio. Sverre Harrell stated that although the tattoo industry has been increasing, it is not always welcoming of Queer artists.
“think being trans – regardless of if people realize II’mtrans or not – just being openly Queer can sometimes have certain people in shops not want you in their environment,” Sverre-Harrell said.
Torres noted that it can be challenging for Queer artists in the tattoo industry but also tricky for Queer clients to get tattoos.
Torres said, “I have Queer, Femme or People of Color clients who come to me with horror stories. They tell me about being unable to get what they wanted because the artist would not change it or feeling uncomfortable or like they were preyed on. “Sverre Harrell is open on social media about his identity, which he uses to let people know that he has a private studio where there is no judgment. Sverre HHarrell’stransgender and queer identity is evident in his work and his practice.
Three artists said that while being Queer, trans, and working in tattooing can be difficult, they have found it easier to build community with the Queer Community and to provide safe experiences.
Sverre Harrell said, “Once I discovered my niche, I grew in a way that I never expected because people were searching for a place to feel safe and provide a service I was offering.” suddenly, being Queer was a positive thing.”
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