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Aaron Tsuru: The Trans Artist Tackling Censorship

“Why, in 2018, are nipples or body hair or trans & non-binary folks still political discussions?”

Please give a warm welcome to a new artist whose work is illustrating your anonymous sexual confessions! Aaron is a superstar on the Instagram erotic art circuit, firstly for their intricate, beautiful style and talent, and secondly for the content of their work. Aaron identifies as trans non-binary/genderqueer, and their work reflects that dissection and exploration of other kinds of gender outside of the binary of male/female that we are so used to. I was overjoyed that Aaron agreed to collaborate with me on XConfessions, but I was even more excited when I read their interview. Smart, insightful, curious and open – Aaron reflects the kind of people we should all strive towards being. Welcome Aaron, I’m so pleased to meet you!

See Aaron’s profile on XC here

Hi Aaron! Tell me a little about yourself

I’m a native Floridian living in NYC. My days are filled with waking up, taking care of my family (my partner and my two daughters also in the arts), riding my bike to my day job (got to pay that rent), coming home, feeding my family before settling down to draw, paint, make music, and go for long walks with my partner Meghan (aka @tsurubride). We travel whenever possible, but otherwise, try to live a pretty simple life together taking care of each other as best we can.

I’m also trans non-binary / genderqueer. This realization would have been handy back in my youth in the 80s, sure would’ve helped explain so much! But since accepting this, my life has become much more free and relaxed. I am what I am and work hard to figure out what that means in my place in this short moment of time we get to exist.

Can you tell me a bit about how and when you started working in this style?

I’m a self-taught artist, teaching myself watercolors from watching some youtube videos, as a way to fill the dissatisfaction I felt in photography and making zines a few years back. It felt good and right. Something I always wanted to try but was intimidated to do. Then we went to a Klimt exhibit at Neue Galerie New York and the little ear piece audio thing talked about how Klimt would draw all the time, every day, to get better and hone ideas, and that made sense to me… so I started drawing every day I can too via my sketchaday series on Instagram using it to push new ideas, new angles, new techniques. Eventually, drawing & painting took over all my visual art endeavours!

What made you want to collaborate with XConfessions?

We are very sex-positive and that’s what Erika is all about. I’ve admired what she’s been doing so to be part of a feminist sex-positive concept is a wonderful thing.

Your work explores a beautiful range of lived experiences for people rather than the usual hegemony you see in erotic art (thin, white, straight, cis women). Do you consider your work erotic or purely narrative?

It’s both. It often depends on the subject, some people are just more sexual and erotic in the way they present themselves, while others are just celebrating their wonderland of a body in all it’s bumps and lumps! Some do a little bit of both. There’s just a kind of positivity about themselves that connects me to it and let’s me celebrate them as they like to present themselves!

Do you see politics in your work?

Yes and in a way it’s unfortunate. Why, in 2018, are nipples or body hair or trans & non-binary folks still political discussions? Why can’t we as a society move forward and let people be who they are and express themselves how they like? So when I draw a new transgender woman’s selfie, it becomes automatically political and polarizing. I can’t tell you how visceral some of the reactions were when I painted two moustached people making out… lost a lot of followers that day. So yeah, LGBTQ+, body positivity, self love, and even body hair are still political. Crazy.

I see Egon Schiele influences – is that correct?

Oh for sure! I’ve always loved their work and it was after an exhibit here in NYC that inspired me to finally try watercolors and drawings. Schiele’s work still inspires me to just not always be so literal with the drawings, to sometimes relax the hand and just let the drawing go where it goes.

What’s in the future for your work?

That’s a great question. I don’t know. After being a photographer making zines for years, the act of “doing” something with my work feels daunting and overwhelming. I don’t even want to sell stuff. But maybe if someone wants to rep me, I’ll re-think it, but for now, I’m just going to keep drawing & painting and pushing myself forward.

If you could describe yourself in one image, what would that be?

I guess the one image for now would just be a recent self-portrait, a drawing I did of my partner & me call “let me be your safe haven” that became my album cover for the song of the same name:

My partner Meghan and I just love, inspire, and take care of each other. I can’t imagine my world without her love & support. So the one image I can think of that best represents me is the one where I’m with them.

Did you ever find a good visual representation of an orgasm?

Oh my, yes and no? I mean, orgasms come in so many shapes, sizes, and volumes. Sex is way too varied, so while one representation may work for one person, it may do nothing for someone else. Maybe there just isn’t one.

A post shared by Aaron Tsuru (@tsurufoto) on

🌈 See more of Aaron’s work and the confessions that their work has illustrated on their profile! 

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