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Leather Barbies and Beefcakes: Interview with James Lauder

Leather Barbies and Beefcakes: Interview with James Lauder

Tattoo Artists5 min Read

In this interview with James Lauder he talks about getting into tattooing, his aesthetic, and Vancouver community.

Sapphic love, leather daddies, Madonna dolls, and ball gag babes...this is only scratching the surface of James Lauder's incredibly clean, bold portfolio. With a sense of humor matched with an emotive sensitivity, his work is fun, but powerful. 

What were you like as a kid? Do you think it was pretty clear you would become an artist?

I was a pretty quite kid, spent most of my time drawing or watching cartoons. Throughout school art was always my main focus, so for sure.

Many of your pieces are very much inspired by contemporary kink/queer culture. Can you talk about how your style has developed over the years, and why those aspects of culture were important for you to illustrate/tattoo? What artists, visuals, films, or books inspired you along the way?

I think discussions around toxic masculinity and queer culture are becoming more common in our community. Imagery and visibility have an equally important role though. It’s normal for us to see images of women being vulnerable, whether physically restrained, showing affection, or crying. Many link femininity with emotions and emotions with weakness. ’Being a man’, ‘Manning up’, and the more aggressive ’Don’t be a pussy’ clearly express that emotions are the antithesis of masculinity. Within my own practice as a queer artist, my focus has been to challenge these beliefs by creating images that explore vulnerable masculinity and flip gender stereotypes. I think for people who like my work maybe its because it reflects or allows them the space to express their own ideas around queerness and gender.

As someone who does do a lot of kink tattoos that feel really authentic and genuine, I’d love to hear your advice for white bread newbies who are interested in the community, but are perhaps a little too scared to dip their toe in. How do you think people can educate themselves on sex positivity, and get involved in what can often seem like an intimidating culture?

I think the internet is always an interesting place to start (for good + bad reasons). There’s a number of sites + forums where you can get information or find other people to explore whatever your specific kink(s) might be. I would just take it slow, try new things and be safe.

Beyond artwork and tattooing, what are you most passionate about? If you were going to live forever, what are the first things on your list of places to see, things to do, or skills to learn?

Film is such a collaborative and impactful medium, in a short amount of time you can connect to another persons story or life in way that can change how you see or think about something forever. It’s also a very easily accessible medium, both physically + intellectually.

I wouldn’t want to live forever, have you seen Death Becomes Her? ;) I just want to keep improving my work and trying to understand myself better, travel everywhere (Japan + the Philippines are next on my list). Maybe learn how to sleep 8hrs a night (so envious of people who can sleep anywhere).

Any travel plans, collabs, or upcoming projects you’d like to share?


I’m still figuring out travel plans for 2019, but I do have a solo show coming up called ‘Vulnerable Masculinity’ at Dynamo for the end of November that I’m really excited about :) Just feeling lucky that I get to do what I love with such awesome people.


Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

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