Melinda - TATTOO ARTIST
People always ask me "What got you into tattooing?"
I was born to a family of artists my mother was a artist/painter, my grandma, was a painter. I'm a third generation artist so my childhood art drawings were advanced for my age. My mother would encourage art competitions in school. By 5th grade I was a regular in the regional art competitions, took 1st, 2nd places often.
By middle school my classmates noticed I was a accomplished artist, and would request drawings from me. By 8th grade I was drawing on students with sharpies the art looked like tattoo art. My class mates would say "you should be a Tattoo artist!" I would respond with "Na, I don't think it's a art" When I got to high school this was the early 90's so they were pushing college on every student.
And I was investigating all art based jobs/ careers, like Graphic design, illustration, Computer art/ CGI, Movie monster/ props, to name a few. And everyone/ everything I looked at was missing something and I knew it wasn't a good fit for me as a career...
My answer is always:
"I'm supposed to be a Tattoo artist, fate is real"
See, there was problem, I secretly was a science nerd Too.
I was diagnosed with "Monilethrix" when I was 3 years old. This is a genetic defect that affects the hair on my body to grow in deformed, causing baldness, thin fingernails, and skin issues. So I developed a interest in how the human body works, like genetics, biology, anatomy, and even spread to earth sciences, like geology, platetechtonics (volcanoes). So I may have been into art, but I loved the sciences too.
I continued investigating the arts for a potential career, and when I was 14 my older brother gave me a magazine to read called "Tattoo" I rolled my eyes. Now I did flip the pages and skimmed the articles and quickly realized that tattooing WAS A ART, meaning I didn't have to do specific designs or copy patterns with no play, I could create my own art. and that was encouraged. ( I didn't know I could do this, I was raised in a very conservative family and never exposed to tattoos, which effected my view of them) And there was a big health and science background. so Tattooing was a wonderful combination of Art and Science. I found my place/ career and it was staring me right in my face for years.
I just had to learn how to do it. See it was trade, taught by a master to a apprentice. there was no school, no classes I could take that I knew of. So being the mid 90's before google even existed. I only had one option. I had to go to the local tattoo shops and questions. And needless to say, that didn't go over very well, I was 15 when I walked into a tattoo shop for the first time, and was promptly told to leave, I had no tattoos and I was girl. So this just made me want it more. I finished High school and started pursue tattooing full time. I found a class that taught Blood borne pathogens (which is required to work in a shop) I continued to go to local shops and beg to be taught, often with the same (go home kid) response. o
A local shop finally took me in at the Everett Navel Station where I lived close by. The owner who was a lady finally said yes after I kept bringing her customers, her work was amazing. What made her change her mind was I told her I was scheduled for a BBP class. before I was even in shop. She was stunned. took me in and taught me. I worked with customers and learned cleaning techniques. 6 months in I had some personal issues arise. So i had to leave to resolve them. I returned after the issues where dealt with and the shop was closed. It broke my heart. I hunted my teacher down and where she moved to, she couldn't continue to teach me. Another blow to my heart.
I was 18
I continued working on my painting, illustrative skills at home between jobs, reading anything I could get my hands on about tattooing magazines, articles, online resources when they popped up, anything to help me learn. I choose to move to Denver when I was 19. Best decision I ever made, I just didn't know it yet. I keep doing small jobs and working at call centers(I could draw while I was on the phone) I continued to go to local tattoo shops in Denver and ask to finish my apprenticeship. It took 2 years for a shop to finally take me in. A shop in Lakewood, a suburb just outside Denver took me in. And he finished my schooling and taught me what I was missing. I went pro when I was 21. It was 2002.
I still paint and do illustrative art along side my tattooing. I enjoy art, just doing and creating art and the creative process it involves. But my science background makes me knowledgeable in how the body responds and heals from the tattooing process. Canvas doesn't need to heal the way a tattoo has too, I enjoy helping people create art for their body to help express who they are on the inside, on the outside. Tattooing is a amazing form of self expression, I love the process, and the challenge of creating art for clients, so there lies why I still love tattooing after 20 years of doing it professionally.