5 Notable LGBTQIA+ Underground Artists

For LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, Anna D. Smith Fine Art and Real Estate Broker pays homage to 5 notable LGBTQIA+ visual artists from the Underground World of art.

The art market for LGBTQIA+ artists is growing, but it is still a niche market. There are a number of factors that have contributed to this growth, including:

The increasing visibility of LGBTQIA+ people in society has led to a greater demand for art that reflects their experiences.

The rise of social media has made it easier for LGBTQIA+ artists to connect with collectors and curators.

The establishment of queer art spaces and organizations has provided support and opportunities for LGBTQIA+ artists.

Despite this growth, there are still challenges that LGBTQIA+ artists face in the art market. These challenges include:

Discrimination from galleries and collectors.

Lack of representation in major art institutions.

The need to self-identify as LGBTQIA+ in order to be included in queer art spaces.

Despite these challenges, there are a number of LGBTQIA+ artists who are making a significant impact on the art world. 

Here are some resources for LGBTQIA+ artists:

Queer|Art: A nonprofit organization that supports LGBTQIA+ artists through exhibitions, grants, and mentorship programs.

Artadia: A foundation that provides grants to emerging artists, including LGBTQIA+ artists.

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art: A museum in New York City dedicated to the work of LGBTQIA+ artists.

The Center for LGBTQ Studies at CUNY: A research center that promotes the study of LGBTQIA+ culture and history.

Comic Strip Artist 

Edie Fake [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edie_Fake]  is a Chicago transgender artist and zinemaker, known for his work in comics and graphic novels, with a focus on themes of gender, sexuality, and identity. He works as a mini comics sommelier for Quimby’s Books and was one of the founding organizers of the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE). 

In 2011, his graphic novel, Gaylord Phoenix, which explores queer spaces and experiences, won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel. Fake would then go on to become one of the first recipients of Printed Matter’s Awards for Artists. 

In Memory Palaces, 2014, Fake reinterprets the exteriors of historically queer locales in Chicago through surreal, dreamlike depictions of architecture, serving as symbolic representations of the transgender body. Both architecture and the human form exist as constructs, showcasing ornamentation and defensive characteristics. 

However, both are susceptible to changes driven by shifts in U.S. political landscapes and societal transformation. In Memory Palaces was originally presented at Fake’s first solo exhibition at Thomas Robertello Gallery in 2013. 

Fake is a highly prolific artist, whose storied career can not be summarized here.

Prison Artist 

Jamie Diaz [https://www.jamiediazart.com/] is a Mexican American transgender woman, who’s been incarcerated in a men’s prison in Texas for 27 years, serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery. Despite the harsh environment, Diaz has created a substantial body of art during her time behind bars, predominantly featuring watercolor paintings that celebrate queer and trans identities. 

Diaz was born in the Illinois, Chicago suburb of Waukegan, but was raised in Houston, Texas. As a child, she started expressing herself through art, and as she transitioned into adulthood, began working at a tattoo shop in Texas.

In 1996, Diaz was handed a life sentence for committing aggravated robbery, as per records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and will be eligible for parole in 2025.

In 2022, the Daniel Cooney Fine Art gallery in New York City, New York, held her first solo exhibition Even Flowers Bleed. It featured a series of still-life paintings of flowers with drops of blood on their thorns, along with portraits that incorporate queer themes or symbols. 

The name of the exhibition was chosen for a series of still-life paintings of flowers in vases. On the flowers’ thorns, there are drops of blood. “Everything bleeds, everything feels pain,” Diaz, 64, said in a statement about the series. “We’re not the only ones…even flowers can hurt. That’s just part of nature.” 

Diaz’s art underscores her resilience and pride in her identity, despite the dehumanizing conditions of the prison system.

Street Artist 

Jeremy Novy [https://jeremynovystencils.com/]  is an American street artist and stencil artist. He is best known for his stencils of koi fish and efforts in support of gay activism.

Novy was born in the industrial midwest state of Wisconsin, and in 2004, earned an associate degree in graphic design from Gateway Technical College in Elkhorn, Wisconsin in 2004. In 2008, he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. 

In 2006, Novy spent time traveling through China studying ancient and contemporary art. He discovered subliminal messages in communist posters and koi fish iconography in Chinese scrolls. The koi fish, symbolizing resilience and lucky numbers, inspired him. Motivated by these findings and eager to foster independent thought against prescriptive ideologies, he began stenciling koi images on sidewalks.

In 2008, Novy moved to San Francisco, California, and in that same year, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. With the funds, he curated an exhibition, A History of Queer Street Art, which premiered in San Francisco, and later toured to Pop Up Gallery in Los Angeles, and Yale University.

Novy is one of the few street artists in the United States who openly identifies as being gay. His stencils, which often depict drag queens, queer Care Bears, and shirtless men, make important political and social commentary regarding LGBT rights. Novy’s work is a powerful reminder that LGBT people are an integral part of our society, and that their rights deserve to be fought for.

NFT Artist

Dr. Brittany Jones [https://queerfriendsnft.com/our-team/] The Creator/Project Manager/Co-Founder (She/Her)

+Bi sexual, woman, athlete, and fur baby mom. Jones has her PhD in Marine Biology and her day job is a scientist who studies dolphin communication (yes, that is a real job).

She is happily married to a woman.

She has been a project manager for four years managing large research grants and looks forward to applying those skills to the long term success of Queer Friends

Digital art has always been a way for Jones to express her creative side and she previously used it to educate our youth, especially young girls about science and careers in STEAM.

“I am so passionate about this project and hope that you feel the love I have for each of you in this community, and you feel represented by the art.”

Graphic Novelist

Galaxy the Prettiest Star FCBD cover

Jadzia Axelrod [https://www.jaredaxelrod.com/] Jadzia Axelrod (also known as Jared Axelrod) is an author, an illustrator, and a world changer. Throughout her eventful life she has also been a circus performer, a puppeteer, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that she’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it. But that “writer” business, that seems to be one she keeps coming back to. Galaxy: The Prettiest Star is a DC Comics graphic novel by Jadzia Axelrod, Jess Taylor, and Ariana Maher that tells the story of an alien princess who has been living on Earth disguised as a human boy, but who is finding the strength to live as her true self.


The five notable artists discussed in this article are just a few of the many talented LGBTQIA+ Underground contemporary artists who are making their mark on the Underground art world. Their work is diverse and groundbreaking, and it is helping to change the way that we see ourselves and the world around us.

Edie Fake’s comics and graphic novels explore themes of gender, sexuality, and identity in a way that is both thought-provoking and accessible. Jamie Diaz’s watercolor paintings celebrate queer and trans identities with beauty and resilience. Jeremy Novy’s stencils use humor and irony to make important political and social commentary about LGBT rights. Dr. Brittany Jones’s NFT art is a powerful reminder that LGBTQIA+ people are an integral part of our society. And Jadzia Axelrod’s graphic novel Galaxy: The Prettiest Star tells a story of hope and acceptance for transgender youth.

The work of these notable artists is more than just art. It is a force for change. It is helping to create a world where everyone can be seen and celebrated for who they are.

I hope that this article has inspired you to learn more about the work of these notable artists and other Underground contemporary LGBTQIA+ artists who are making a difference in the world.

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I am a Fine Art and Real Estate Broker with 40 years of experience in all aspects of the Real Estate Industry. A member of the National Association of REALTORS®. I advocate for Prison Artist C-Note. With the right wall art, your room will go from functional to functionally enchanting. Contact me for your Fine Art & Real Estate problems.