I think getting tattoos can be an extension of this mindset, but in a more fun way. Our bodies are like our own exhibits we get to be the curators for.

Marte Gastaldello: I love how your tattoo flashes range from plushies, trans memes, gay sh*t, queer archive works and occasional knights and fighters… Would you describe yourself as an image collector? What is your current obsession?

Cyb3rrknight: Thank you so much. While I’ve never thought of myself as one before, an image collector is definitely an apt term. In some sense I think all people around my age (mid-20s) have been trained to be through platforms like Tumblr and Instagram. Even having a smartphone makes us all image collectors; my camera roll has like 30,000 photos and at least 5k of them are screenshots I’m never going to look at again. There’s a human impulse to snapshot as if that makes something more “real.” It’s very easy to adopt the mindset that we represent ourselves through the images we share or quite literally collect (my bedroom walls are covered), and that this is somehow evidence of who we are as people, granting our personalities validity. I think getting tattoos can be an extension of this mindset, but in a more fun way. Our bodies are like our own exhibits we get to be the curators for. I’ve recently been very in touch with all my 14 year old obsessions: watching a lot of Jackass, listening to a lot of screamo, painting at the train tracks; I got a Bam Margera tech-deck the other day I’ve been having a lot of fun with. I’m also in a big dragon era right now.

MG: You are gradually building an archive of images that end up being fixed on someone’s skin. Personally, I think tattoos are one of the biggest sources of my gender euphoria, as they offer me power over my body. What does tattooing mean to you?

CK: Tattooing means so much to me! A dream is having my own giant archive of trans material, as I hate seeing such cool and important media getting lost over time. This is why I source a lot of my trans/queer text from old zines/ porn/ whatever media queer people were allowed to exist in. Tattooing this imagery that I know is hard to find (or extremely gate kept) feels like a way of preserving such materials. It also feels like a way for me to create trans history that doesn’t exist or I can’t find (like when I take reference photos from porn of cis dudes and transgender them; or my imagined portraits of sexy trans knights). Additionally, I’m a die-hard believer that getting tattoos (or any body mods) is a form of transition right in line with surgery or hormones–they’re all forms of exerting bodily autonomy and aligning your external self with your self-image. A lot of body mod history is also gay history (for example, pretty much all standard piercing procedures in America can be traced to a group of kinky gay men who were piercing each other during the AIDs crisis), and tattooing connects me to this lineage. It’s also opened up my trans community even more than I could have imagined; I have (what feels like) a world-wide network of freaks that I treasure.

MG: With your practice being so physical, I think it can be interesting to discuss ways of working on our body, its limits and how to approach them. I know you are focusing on tattoos right now, but do you think you’ll ever express yourself with any other artistic means in the future?

CK: The limits of the body in regards to tattooing is something I consider a lot. It’s less associated with me than my trans work, but I also care deeply about disability justice in the tattooing world. I fantasize a lot of what adaptive tech or mobility aids could look like as a tattoo artist. If I had unlimited funds and knowledge I’d be reprogramming embroidery machines to work on human skin. Trans theory and disability theory often overlap in their imaginings of what it can look like to extend past the confines of our current biology (see: A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway). Medical transition is bio-hacking and I love being a cyborg. I definitely like to play around with other mediums. I love making music and comics; I want to make more clothes and video art. I like trying new stuff all the time–I’m currently trying to get my hands on a soldering iron so I can finish repairing some broken synths/ drum machines. Going to continue my bio-hacking journey in my own body and also am trying to scheme doing so for others (have to leave it at that for now). I’m never really sure what I’m going to do next, so we will both be waiting to see :).