Maria Tash

Maria Tash has come a long way from piercing her friends’ ears in college. Nearly two decades later, the raven-haired designer behind Venus by Maria Tash designs custom jewelry that commands up to $40,000 a piece and has two prosperous New York City jewelry and tattoo shops with celebrity clientele (Britney Spears, Uma Thurman, and Jessica Alba, to name a few). “Venus indicates beauty throughout the ages,” says Tash, who was an astronomy major in college, of her high-end brand’s moniker. “For me, piercing and jewelry is all about beauty, so I thought it was appropriate.”
Tash’s ink is a reflection of her lifelong passion for jewelry. Both of her lower arms are covered in predominantly black and gray gauntlets (a type of armor) that have a feminine twist. “They look like silver metal with gemstones embedded in them,” she says of the pieces she got in 1992 from artist Bernie Luther while he was visiting New York. “I was interested in rendering different textures onto skin. Metal onto skin and gemstones onto skin. That, to me, was cool.”

But she’s not content with all of her tattoos. Tash—who also has an alien orb on her back—is in the process of having the colorful tattoos of stained glass and wood paneling on both her upper arms removed. “It was one thing I was never fully happy with,” admits Tash. “I had it reworked and reworked and reworked. I tried to get the colors darkened and more deep to match my lower arms, but I just wasn’t happy with it. I went about five or six times. It’s not completely gone, but it is at the stage now where if I wanted to cover it, I can.”
For those like Tash who think they might like to change their tattoos at some point, Venus Modern Body Arts, Tash’s East Village shop, features InfinitInk, a laser-removable ink that makes it much easier to zap away tattoos later on down the road. Tash’s other store, the more high-end Venus by Maria Tash, has become the go-to destination for celebrities not only to pick up modernized, Indian-influenced body jewelry, but also to get pierced by Tash herself. “There are some things that celebs have gotten pierced that’s private … some genital piercings,” she teases. But she’s not about to name names. “Having celebrity clients is like a walking billboard, and I’m really appreciative of it.”

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