Artists: Kelly Doty
Off the Map Tattoo
112 Cottage Street
Easthampton, MA 01027
What year did you start tattooing?
I started my apprenticeship in 2007 and finished in 2009.
How did you get into tattooing?
I’ve always been really interested in body modification. And I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. My grandpa still has a framed picture I drew of Scrooge McDuck when I was 5. The perspective is horrible, and the anatomy is just atrocious, but despite my inability to effectively render cartoon ducks, my family still supported me. I went to Hartford Art School but dropped out when I remembered that I’m a horrible student, and started looking for an apprenticeship shortly after. I loved art so much, and body modification like tattooing really seemed like the perfect career. It took a few years because I’m shy, and incredibly awkward when it comes to interacting with human beings, but eventually I was somehow able to convince someone to
take me on as an apprentice.
Where did you apprentice?
I apprenticed at Turnpike Tattoo in Meriden, CT, under Coniah Timm. I was originally the shop apprentice, but
between all the different artists I wasn’t really progressing, and Coniah took it upon himself to teach me how to tattoo. It was great because he wasn’t afraid to push me even if it meant being a jerk, and making me cry in the bathroom like a preteen. But he was also very supportive, and still is.
Do you have any special training?
I went to art school for a year. Other than that, unless you count an almost dangerous obsession with soup as a special training, I have no other exciting attributes.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I’ve worked two conventions, Hell City Phoenix 2010 and Hell City Phoenix 2011. In a wacky twist I won Tattoo
of the Day on Friday at this year’s Hell City. It’s still a huge shock to me. It’s the only award I’ve ever won. I definitely don’t tattoo with the thought of awards in my mind; I do it because it’s practically criminal how much fun I have doing it. But it was incredible to win an award at a convention as amazing as Hell City. There’s so many artists I admire there. Also I thought I was going to throw up on stage. I’m very glad that didn’t happen.
How do you describe your style?
If I had to give my style a name I suppose I’d call it creepy cute. Because creepy-cute has a slightly better
ring to it than “big-headed animals that look like their mothers drank while they were in the womb.” It’s hard to describe my own style, because I’m not sure what others take away from it. All I know is I like making things look a little bit creepy but still huggable.
What inspires you as an artist?
I draw inspiration from just about anything. I find darker imagery more inspiring for whatever reason. I suppose there’s still a moody 15-year-old living deep within my brain telling me that graveyards are very, very cool. But it’s hard to pin down what I find most inspiring as an artist. You can find visual information that can be applied to your work in literally anything, if you’re really looking.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I don’t know what sets me apart from other artists. Since it was never my intention to stand out for standing out’s sake, I can’t pinpoint what might be special or interesting about me. I’ve had people say they like my color choices, which is very exciting since I’m positively obsessed with color.
What other mediums do you work in?
I’ve worked in watercolor, pen and ink, and oil. I really like painting in oil, but I’m definitely looking to try more acrylic. I recently went to a seminar held by Greg “Craola” Simkins, who is one of my all-time favorite artists, and I found his acrylic method really inspiring.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Probably Nick Baxter, Jeff Gogue, Scotty Munster, Jesse Smith. They all have such exciting, different styles. I feel like they’re all bringing something interesting to the table, aside from just being tremendous artists. And each of them uses a very harmonious color palette that makes my eyes smile.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I like goofy-looking animals. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But honestly anything that I can kind of warp around and make kind of exciting, or creepy, or weird in some way. Messing with color, or perspective, or the nature of something is what I look forward to. Anything is a little more exciting when it’s kind of twisted.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
That’s a tricky question! I guess if I could tattoo anyone in the world I would have to choose Matt Damon. I have a weird fascination with Matt Damon, so tattooing him would be a way of meeting him, I suppose. Hopefully he would ask for something commemorating Good Will Hunting, or his role in Mystic Pizza. Before someone gets a tattoo, what advice do you give them? Make sure you eat a good meal, get a lot of rest, and chill out. It’s always so much worse if you psych yourself out. As far as the art is concerned … give up some control. I’m a control freak and even I can loosen the reins a little. You get the best results when your artist is allowed some creative freedoms.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Honestly, I’ll always be chasing that “ultimate tattoo.” There are so many combinations of things that I love that I would have so much fun tattooing on someone. An opossum dressed as Princess Leia. A jackalope dressed as Beetlejuice. A hamster in the role of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. Matt Damon dressed as a panda. So I guess any combination of animal with pop culture references would be my ultimate.