Art is inspirational for many, and permanently marking our bodies is a celebration of self and life. Let’s face it: many of us, myself included, are way into tattoos and other forms of body modification. Tattooing, in particular, is a fantastic way to mark an important time in our lives, or celebrate an artist or idea that we find beautiful, interesting, and unique.
It can be difficult to find the right tattoo artist who will create a piece as you desire and in the style you want. There is added difficulty as a queer person because you need to find someone that can do your ink the way you want, but also know that you can feel safe being who you are around them. Earlier this year, there was an unofficial poll asking for recommendations for queer-friendly tattoo artists in PGH. Many wonderful artists were mentioned and voted on. Every artist I reached out to was thrilled to be nominated as someone our community feels safe with. What follows is a sampling of six local queer-friendly tattoo artists (in no particular order) with some pictures of their beautiful artwork. Be sure to check them out for your next work of art!
Sara Eve at Positive Mental Attitude Tattooing
Sara Eve specializes in custom tattoo designs, cover up tattoos, rework tattoos, traditional tattooing, illustrative tattooing, and geometric tattooing. She just opened her own shop called Positive Mental Attitude Tattooing, located in Dormont.
Red at Alter Ego
Location: Castle Shannon
Social: @AlterEgoBodyArt Studio
Red specializes in repairs and cover-ups. His work is bright, colorful, and painterly, and it runs the gambit. He can refresh or revitalize your tattoo, to bring it back to something you can be proud of. Red started tattooing at the Z Spot and moved to Alter Ego in 2012.
Katie Kittenfist at Gypsy Tattoo Parlor
Katie Kittenfist style focuses on Blackwork, traditional, neotraditional, and illustrative realism, often around themes of plants and nature. Katie is a versatile artist with over ten years of experience in illustration and fine art. Katie proudly tattoos at Gypsy Tattoo, a “little Romani-owned and operated queer hold-out in Bloomfield”. She has been a full time professional tattoo artist and roustabout since 2013
Michele at Gypsy Tattoo Parlor
Michele enjoys doing tattoos that have an engraved and vintage feel to them. She worked as a rare book dealer before tattooing and is very inspired by etchings, engravings, and woodcuts in tattooing. She loves doing intricate and fine detailed work and anything in an illustrative style, especially vintage inspired botanical tattoos and is also passionate about helping people tattoo over scars. She feels very privileged to work and collaborate with clients to make beautiful and meaningful tattoos.
Michele has been tattooing for ten years and opened the shop because she wanted to create a safe space for all people to come and get wonderful tattoos. Michele believes that tattooing is a healing art form and is so grateful for the trust my clients give her when they are collaborating. It is so important to her that her clients get a beautiful tattoo but that they also have a wonderful experience while in her shop.
Laura H. at Gypsy Tattoo Parlor
Laura specializes in bold traditional tattoos, black work, and hand-poked tattoos. They have been tattooing for three years total; two of those have been with a machine (vs. by hand only). They have only worked professionally in a shop for a year.
Kali V. at 13 Needles
Kali specializes in Realism, portraits, fantasy, cover-ups, Old School, New School, sleeves, or back pieces. Kali has been tattooing for 14 years and is an excellent artist who works magic with lines and color and composition. She also specializes in ritual tattooing, for those who want ink with a spiritual bent.
Is your favorite queer-friendly tattoo artist or shop listed above? If not, why don’t you share with us below?