Learn how these transgender and non-binary Michiganders are creating community through their art—and what you can do to support them.
In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, we are celebrating transgender and non-binary artists and businesses doing their part to uplift the voices of their communities. Whether you’re looking for new art for your office or a new shirt for your wardrobe, these Michigan-based trans and non-binary artists and businesses have you covered.
Transfigure Printing Company
It started as a dream for owner/printer Bailey Sell in 2018—working out of his small bedroom. Today, Transfigure Printing Company has evolved into a full-blown screen printing business that has collaborated with businesses like Planned Parenthood, Ghirardelli, Bombas Socks, and various others.
In addition to selling their own merch, TFPC is all about supporting other transgender and queer people, businesses, and initiatives. Each month, TFPC donates 10% of total sales of their Protect Trans Kids and Protect Trans Folks collections to a different organization focused on transgender and queer lives. To date, TFPC has raised over $80,000 in support of the LGBTQ+ community since it began fundraising in April of 2019.
Heron Hill Designs
Heron Hill Designs is a collective of two indigenous Michigan artists—Joey and Daniel—who combine contemporary art styles, traditional woodland floral designs, and conscientious consumption. From intricate beaded jewelry to apparel, all items made at HHD are handmade and hand-harvested. If any materials cannot be made in-house, HHD outsources the material within indigenous communities when possible.
Their work has been featured in museum exhibitions, ceremonies, and weddings across the Great Lakes State.
Jamie John is a two-spirit transgender and queer Anishinaabe and Korean-American multidisciplinary artist. According to their website, art has always been a way of navigating and communicating the complexities of John’s culture and familial background. They hope to uplift and emphasize stories of Indigenous resistance, kinship, and collective survival by creating prints and zines that tackle issues of imperialism, colonial genocide, and historical consciousness.
John’s art has been published in magazines and hung on the walls of museums across the country. To see where the artist will be next, follow them on Instagram.
John Elliot Knits
John Elliot is a fiber artist and printmaker whose art is focused on their experience of being queer and transgender, as well as capturing the essence of their identity as well as feelings of deep love for those around them. Elliot has been crocheting since elementary school—a hobby that quickly became a hustle as they would crochet and sell pencil cases to their classmates.
As a student at Central Michigan University, Elliot expanded their artistic repertoire after falling in love with printmaking and began creating works that centered around themes of love, wonder, and connection with others. Their online shop includes a variety of prints, tapestries, apparel, and even crochet patterns.
Based in Kalamazoo, Victoria Marcetti is an indigenous embroiderer and weaver that describes themselves as a “part-time artist and full-time feeler.” They create art that centers around—and sometimes documents—Marcetti’s desire to foster positive communities where people can support one another and thrive together.
In addition to creating colorful tapestries and intricate apparel, Marcetti has also started making their own multi-purpose fiber art tools that feature driftwood handles from Michigan’s Great Lakes.
Queerdo Co. is owned and operated by creative powerhouse/multidisciplinary artist Kae Britton. Their shop features what they call “silly queer illustrations”—paper goods and apparel that pay tribute to the wild ride that is identifying as a person in the LGBTQIA+ community.
In addition to being a successful artist on paper, Britton is a talented makeup artist and drag performer who has performed at multiple venues around West Michigan.
Rayne Klar is a nonbinary illustrator and comic artist based in Grand Rapids. Klar’s work focuses on queer culture, fantasy, punk rock, internalized monsters, and bedroom culture. Klar also creates memoir-style zines—small-batch, handmade print booklets that focus on personal stories and/or moments.
To grab some of Klar’s work for yourself, check out their Etsy for stickers, notebooks, art prints, and more.
Maddison Chaffer is a muralist for large-scale outdoor and indoor murals in Grand Rapids. In an interview with Lions & Rabbits Center for the Arts, Chaffer said their work is inspired by their interest in evolutionary science and the intersection between physical reality and spirituality. Their work breaks down complex topics—with scientific, social, and/or spiritual themes—into simpler visual terms and makes them more accessible to anyone who passes by their murals.
According to their website, Chaffer aims to design murals in a thought-provoking way so that people can continue to find new elements over time.
Thiago Porraz is a trans, queer, Latino artist who is inspired by the intricacies of human anatomy, inside and out. Much of his work gravitates towards themes of death, nature, decay, surrealism, and the physical remnants of our bodies after we’ve left them behind.
A “multi-hyphenate antidisciplinary artist, alchemist, and mystic,” Bakpak Durden is inspired by hyperrealism, baroque, and surrealism. Durden’s work combines a wide range of mediums—oil and acrylic paint, graphite, film, photography, and more—to construct hyper-surrealistic and conceptual works of art. Their artwork explores the intricacies and perilous nature of human emotion, universal and spiritual existence, and identity through introspection.
Baddie Brooks is a singer, trumpeter, and songwriter who is determined to empower queer and trans folks through her music. Her album—”Reclamation”—debuted in October and features 16 tracks that fuse house, pop, and R&B music. The title track calls for listeners to not hide their true selves from society and to embrace their uniqueness.
Check out all of Brooks’ music on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and wherever else you get your music.
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