Keara McGraw.


Edited by Bee Tomlinson

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Trust in myself, grounding in myself, fulfillment in myself. To me, happiness would be a lasting self-acceptance that allows me to live in confidence and kindness. More than happiness, I put a lot of effort into finding comfort in contentment. Life has its ups and downs, as does my mindset and mental health. I think I know how to navigate sadness and happiness. It’s the calm that throws me off, the contentment. So I’m working on being able to just sit in the in-between. To feel okay between extremes.

What is your motto?
Create with intention, seek knowledge and truth. Also, fuck patriarchal power structures.

What is your current state of mind?
At this moment, I’m sitting in a coffee shop answering tattoo bookings emails, organizing my google calendar for the month of February, and just ate some elotes. My current state of mind is a little bewildered; for the first time in my career I’m creating art full-time and managing my own schedule. It’s a complete dream *and* it’s very stressful. I’m bewildered that so many people have an interest in my work.

How would you like to die?
I suppose I don’t think about it that often, I prefer not to know. I would like to live a full life, there’s quite a few items and dreams on my to-do list still. 

What is it that you love most about what you do?
So, so many things. One of them being the honor of each client’s trust; it’s a deep honor to be able to share my art with others in a way that allows them to permanently carry it. I love seeing healed tattoos. Not only are healed photos great learning tools, it’s incredible to see the tattoo take on its own life with its owner, and exist in the world on such amazing clients.

If you could have a conversation with anybody (alive or dead), who would it be?
Hmm, that’s tough! I think I would love to have a conversation with the (living) musician, Mitski. She creates music that is so poetic, it really hits me. It’s nice to sit with, and let her songs unfold. She’s incredibly inspiring, she’s unapologetic. She speaks intelligently on her art, how and why she makes it. When I’ve read her interviews...the way she approaches music feels similar to the way I approach visual art. I’d love to talk with her about spaces of inspiration.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a creative?
I resisted pursuing visual art in college because I grew up in a very financially unstable household. I always thought financial security was something that I would put first. Halfway through my college career, I switched departments from marketing to illustration. Something that had been laying dormant absolutely ignited during that shift; it’s kind of like a language, like my way of communicating. It felt like things were a bit off before, and once I started to pursue illustration, I could finally speak in ways that made sense to me. It’s been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It will never not amaze me that I get to create art for people on a daily basis. I think about that all the time.

What motivates you?
I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to technique. I’m hungry for growth and knowledge; I want to be able to manifest exactly what I see in my head in my physical work. So I’m kind of always chasing this lure, as soon as I reach one goal or level of technique, there is another level I want to be reaching after that.

What do you love about being a woman?
I love the power that comes with being a woman.There’s something so powerful and connecting about being able to birth life. Of course, I’m speaking in a very cis-normative way, and womanhood means and looks like so many different things. Even as tropes, I like the ideas associated with “femininity” and “womanhood”. What society projects abuse on, this idea of fragility, couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m powerful because I exist. Because I present as femme, that can feel really scary but I want to always find empowerment in what womanhood means to me. Fuck you if you try to abuse that.

What is your experience of being a woman, while also being a creative?
There’s a feeling of connection with other femme and non-binary artists because we aren’t held back by bullshit like fragile masculinity. So in that way, my experience is always growing and evolving. I learn so much from other femme and non-binary creatives, it inspires me, all of the work coming from this place of truth and courage. All the shit we have to go through in male-dominated industries and spaces, it just makes supporting the work of one another that much more rewarding. So I love the community and support I find in other womxn / GNC folks.

Create with intention, seek knowledge and truth. Also, fuck patriarchal power structures.