We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat Hooper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kat, why did you pursue a creative career?
Art has always felt like the only thing I was good at. Most people in my life tried to steer me away from making it my career, and for a little bit I tried to follow that. I’ve worked a lot and of random day jobs but at the end of the day I just felt empty, drained, and unhappy. My job performance would always drop off significantly after a month of working at non creative jobs. I realized I don’t dream of doing labor my entire life so I tried to figure out options to actually survive off of my art. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by tattoos and even secretly tattooed the bottom of my foot when I was 12 years old. After a couple of bad starts at trying to apprentice as a tattoo artist (with some truly misogynistic artists) I finally found someone I could actually learn from. Once I tattooed myself for the second time I realized there was no going back, this was the only thing I wanted to do. I quit my other jobs and fully submerged myself in the industry and worked incredibly hard to learn as much as I could about tattooing and practiced as much as possible. I definitely could not have gotten to where I am now without my incredible friends who let me practice on them. While technically I am working a service job, I have the freedom to go wherever I want, draw and create whatever I want, and I have the opportunity to be constantly learning something new. While it’s not always the most financially stable job, it’s definitely been the most fulfilling job.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Learning to become a tattoo artist is always a struggle if you are not a cisgendered white man. When I first tried to apprentice, I faced a lot of misogyny and sexual harassment. After about a year and a half of trying to learn under these awful conditions I thought I didn’t want to be in an industry that was so okay with these people treating others so terribly. As a queer non-binary person I ended up enduring a lot of harassment about my sexual orientation and gender to the point that I was afraid I would be physically harmed. Thankfully none of those people are still tattooing. It took a couple of years until I felt like I wanted to give tattooing another chance. It wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn and met my good friend Marissa who is also a tattoo artist. She gave me the tools and confidence to try tattooing again and taught me what I needed to know to get started in a responsible way. (Getting licensed, taking blood borne pathogen safety classes) From my past experiences trying to learn how to tattoo, I knew exactly the kind of artist I did not want to be. I wanted to make sure every person who got tattooed by me felt safe and comfortable and respected. Tattooing is a transfer of energy between the artist and the client so it is important to be mindful of your attitude and how you are treating the people you are working with. For me tattooing has always been a way to reclaim my own body and feel more comfortable in my own skin. I’m a little gender chaotic, so I often experience feelings of body dysphoria. Getting tattooed has helped me with finding peace in my own body. I hope to be able to help people feel better about the skin they wear, which is why I’ve recently started doing 3D nipple reconstructive tattoos where I tattoo realistic nipples onto people who have had top surgery or mastectomies. The cost for these kinds of tattoos is prohibitive to a lot of the trans community, so I offer them for free, or on a donation basis alongside of the illustrative style tattoos I do. There’s so much power in tattooing and so much potential to help others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to the shop I work at, Hades Inquisition because it’s honestly a really cute shop and my favorite one I’ve worked at. There’s tons of natural light, gorgeous plants everywhere, and one of the kindest and most talented groups of artists I’ve met. With the pandemic, a lot of the places I would normally go have closed down permanently. It’s hard to come up with anywhere specific when my favorite places in New York City no longer exist. Right now most of the places I can think of are parks and old cemeteries and beaches. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Michelle Lange- https://instagram.com/corpselove87?igshid=dijt9hkz8h9y Chris Carr- https://instagram.com/blacklandownership?igshid=4npv7zs5w9yy Morning Marissa Olney- https://instagram.com/ethosandiron?igshid=pd9f8nl3v4ms Uriel winfree- https://instagram.com/kastleface?igshid=14j39zyt3t6pc Becki Wilson- https://instagram.com/beckiwilson?igshid=1cd0p42t9ckpj
All photos are taken by me on my Instagram except for a few that were taken by @kingmallard (my personal photo was taking by Jarid blue/ @kingmallard) and some photos of healed tattoos I have done that were taken by my clients