Pinups have been a beauty pageant for far too long, but thankfully a few artists out there have the balls to do something about it, like Jamie August, whose earned a name for himself by challenging the gender norms of the style with his signature big boy pinups. He takes the timeless sailor motif and queers it by featuring beefy dudes instead of buxom women. Though they are staunchly rooted in tradition, his designs are also unapologetically homoerotic, almost as if Ed Hardy and Tom of Finland had a baby. By creating these risqué, gay bangers, August celebrates masculine beauty and subverts prejudice at the same time.
August started making big boy pinups just two years ago, after redrawing a flash sheet of Sailor Jerry pinups as muscular, hirsute men. They were an instant hit with his clientele, and since making his first tattoos of the hunky figures, they’ve become his bread and butter. Now he does them almost exclusively, and people travel from all over to get them. Looking at his body of work is as entertaining as going to a drag show, but it’s about more than just spectacle. His designs reflect what it's like to not only be comfortable with one’s sexuality but to revel in it. That’s what makes them such powerful and provocative tattoos.
Just like their female counterparts, August’s big boy pinups come in a wide variety of flashy costumes. He dresses them up in the classic outfits like hula skirts and cowgirl getups, but he also allows them to bare it all, showing their nerdy sides by wearing Stormtrooper gear and sailor suits (as in Sailor Moon, but he’s done them up to look like sexy cabin boys, too). In short, he lets their impeccable fashion sense shine, and they look fabulous as fuck because of it, proudly celebrating individuality in the face of adversity.
Make sure to follow August on Instagram. He will be in the NYC area later this September, tattooing at Three Kings on the 15th and 16th and East River Tattoo from the 20th-22nd. If you’re in the area and want to get one of his big boy pinups or another strange pop cultural piece, he can be contacted on his website or at email@example.com for booking. Please send along reference materials and specify size and place when you reach out to him.