You might say I got into tattooing sideways. I didn’t start at Tattoo by Design as an artist, but I’ve been here since 1994, when I started in the office and at the counter. Over the years, Bonnie Jean made use of my skills in graphic arts and typesetting, teaching me how to create tattoo designs for our customers. Though she asked me many times to think about becoming a tattoo artist, it took me a long time to warm to the concept. “There’s no backspace key!” I’d tell her. “I can’t use white out!” Finally, after six years in the shop, I decided she had the right idea, and asked her to take me on as an apprentice. I’d already learned almost everything else; I just needed to actually learn how to tattoo. I did my first tattoo on October 1st of 2001, and am very glad I braved it.
Like a lot of tattoo artists, I never really saw myself in this line of work till I got here. I originally moved to Eugene to pursue architecture, after getting my B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Olympia where I grew up. My plan to study architecture never really came together (bills, parenting, life…), and in the meantime I found myself in the tattoo world, doing the office work I’d supported myself on for many years. What I thought was going to be a short-term job in the shop has turned into a career I really love. I take this profession seriously, and love learning more and more every year about this wonderful art form. I’m proud to work in Eugene’s oldest, and one of Oregon’s oldest tattoo shops, and in my professional membership in the National Tattoo Association, which I joined in 2006.
There are many things I like about being a tattoo artist, but a couple of things really stand out. As an artist, I love to play with color, shading, and shape – all critical to tattoo designs, including black and grey pieces. And even more than that, I love helping people document what’s important to them through the symbolism of their tattoos. You meet so many different kinds of people in the tattoo world, because pretty much every kind of person, from every walk of life, gets tattooed. That puts me in touch with lots of different personalities, life stories, different kinds of artwork, and lots of reasons for getting tattooed. It keeps my job quite interesting.
Outside work I live a pretty quiet life. I spend time with my daughter and granddaughter, who live here in the area. My house never feels like home without my animal friends, and I have three cats and two bunnies. I “live in my head,” as they say – whether in book, tv show, or movie form, I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy and mysteries, and for my version of reality shows, throw in a little nature and science programming. I love observing and being in nature – it seems like the natural world creates art for us everyday. Tattooing has become more than just a job for me, something which becomes very apparent every time I see something in the world around me – a bird in flight, the way a flame curls in the night air, the shadow on a cheek, the soft color of a flower just opening – and think about how those images can be translated into a tattoo. I live a blessed life!
A few tattoos are pictured below – click any one of them to start a slideshow you can click through. You can also view my portfolio on the Tattoo by Design facebook page, or connect with my own facebook profile to see who’s tagged me in their photos.