Bobby “Coyote Bruises” Talks Tattooing, Queer Education & Pride

Known by the Instagram world as @coyotebruises, artist Bobby has us drooling over their sexy linework, badass style and killer hand-painted jackets. We caught up with Bobby to learn more about their journey into tattooing, inspiration and what ‘Pride’ means to them.

How did you get into tattooing?

At first I think it was more a story of tattooing getting into me, as far back as I can remember I was enamored with tattoos. I used to collect temporary ones out of gumball machines when I was probably 8 or 9 and would tack them to my bedroom wall and try to decide which I would get when I was finally of age haha. 

Growing up as an artist though, I shied away from the idea of actually tattooing because most of my understanding of what the general population wanted tattoo-wise wasn’t the designs I was particularly drawn to. In other words, I wanted to tattoo my art and what I like to design, rather than tribal ladybugs or whatever. So it wasn’t until 3 years ago when my ex girlfriend got me a hand poking kit for my birthday that I finally got hooked.

bobby coyote

What inspires your designs?

I feel like I’m in a constant state of inspiration, not only seeking it in tattoo culture and styles but also from shit I like – sex, drugs, rock & roll, music, motorcycles, the 60s/70s, etc. I’m super inspired by traditional American tattoos, ie Sailor Jerry, Bert Grimm, etc but then I’m also very much in love with traditional Japanese, as well as black and grey work. 

Honestly I just really believe in tattoos that are aesthetically pleasing and just plain badass to behold. 

bobby coyote

You’ve done such a great job of creating your own distinct vibe. Have you had any challenges in discovering it?

I feel like I’m still on that road and I doubt it will ever be something I stop, it’s something I feel like others see more than I do, a case of being my own harshest critic maybe. It all started out with me beginning my journey of being gay and before I ever even said I was, I drew it, and explored it through my art. I’m still working everyday to understand what my style or vibe even is. My mind is constantly blown by what other artists are putting out tattoo-wise and I really can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

bobby coyote

You seem to be in touch with so many different creative avenues, do you have any projects or endeavours cooking at the moment?

Never not cooking!! Yeah, so I tattoo but also paint custom jackets (or anything I can paint really), I bartend and fucking love that, I’m a buyer for a vintage store in New York and get to go pick stuff for them and also myself and do a pop up vintage rack up to twice weekly – Tuesdays at Footsies Bar in Highland Park, where I also compete in their weekly pool tournament, and the Fridays at Harvard and Stone where me and my brother Mads host the night. We always got something a brewin’ including a night at Adults Only where we will be hosting a pool tournament for womxn to play with initial benefits going to charities. 

bobby coyote

How has working with Ruby (owner of High Art Tattoo Gallery) helped you as a creative, and in your professional approach to tattooing?

Ruby’s been a driving force in pushing me to my potential. We’ve definitely had our times of butting heads, but we’re both Aries so it’s only natural and just makes the bond stronger in the long run really. She’s always pointing out new directions and old ways to learn, and is an excellent critic if your skin is tough enough haha. She gave me a real opportunity and has been unboundedly gracious in all the tools and space and wisdom she offers me. I’m eternally grateful for all she had and continues to do for me and the family at the shop. 

bobby coyote

As a queer artist who has a strong social media following, how do you feel about being seen as a role model, particularly to queer youth?

I’m so into being a role model for the youth, the old, the in-between, fuck anyone curious about breaking that binary. I never had that shit and I know it’s why it took me so long to figure out my own sexual path. I’ve had preteens as well as women 40+ hit me up asking for advice about coming out, about unaccepting family, about what it means to be queer, and it always is a bittersweet thing. My heart breaks for them and my fire wants to ignite them into this new age of understanding. And it’s not just women, I feel like I’m having a conversation daily with men of all ages about being non-binary, about being gay/ queer, and it’s really refreshing how that dialogue is beginning to transform into a much more positive space. I do my best to educate what I experience and although much of society would disagree with so much of my life, I think my societal transgressions are the epitome of breaking through to our real self. 

bobby coyote

Snake Eyes Vintage is run by you and friend/model Mads. How did that start?

I’ve been into vintage clothing as far back as I can remember, and also enjoy screenprinting my own designs so I used to do pop-up racks at bars selling shirts I had printed or jackets I’d painted. Then in 2017 I came upon a golden opportunity to be a buyer here in LA for a store in NY, and am able to go to these amazing vintage wholesale spots and gained access to a treasure trove of vintage. So I decided to merge the two and start selling pop up vintage at bars with my best friend and roommate Mads Paige who also has a sick eye for style and a love of all things vintage. Currently, we do on average two nights a week, Tuesday’s are at Footsies Bar we play in the weekly billiard tournament and then Friday nights we host the night and have the rack at Harvard and Stone.

bobby coyote

What does ‘Pride’ means to you?

You know that’s something that has really evolved quite drastically for me in the past few years. When I first came out 10 years ago I was living in Santa Barbara where there isn’t shit for gay people. So I moved down to LA and made every facet of my life gay, all my friends, all the bars, all the movies and shows I watched, literally refusing to go into straight spaces unless forced and hating it the whole time, feeling so uncomfortable and attacked, but for good reason because I was constantly harassed. So I began to identify feeling safe and secure with the idea of pride being a force field of queerness. But now years later, and maybe I’m sure this has a fair amount to attribute to the state of our culture becoming more accepting of gay people as a norm in everyday life, but now I feel more comfortable in spaces that aren’t identifiable as “gay”. The community for me has become almost a new form of closeting in a way, where the only glue holding people together is just being gay really. I’m more interested in gay being the afterthought, in pride being a form of individuality and uniqueness that each person carries differently, rather than one giant ball of gayness alone in the ocean of cis culture. I ache to interact with other creatives, musicians, artists, writers, etc. where being queer is just a natural flow among almost everyone, whether they participate sexually or not, but still understand and live openly. Now to me, Pride is being proud of who I am and how I tell my story to allow others a wider space to do the same for themselves. Pride is inclusiveness, Pride is all of us just being whoever makes us happiest.

Stay tuned with Bobbi’s art & adventures on Instagram

Images by @g.0liver & @theyshootthem


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