Artists: Tanane Whitfield
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2008. I’ll hit my three-year mark next June at the Richmond Tattoo and Art Festival. I can’t wait! I’m going to bake myself a cake…err…I’ll probably just buy one and slap a candle on top.
How did you get into tattooing?
I actually came across tattooing by accident. I walked into a local shop trying to sell my old drawings as flash to make a quick buck. I was doing construction at the time and wasn’t making enough to support my daughter so I needed money, fast! Luckily, someone took interest and offered me a chance to learn how to tattoo. Changed my life forever.
Where did you apprentice?
I apprenticed at a popular shop in Virginia Beach that will remain nameless. Sorry for being vague but it’s just better that way.
Do you have any special training?
Special training? Nothing out of the ordinary. No conjuring up 9th level demons with mystical dark arts. Just a normal, yet rough, apprenticeship. I was still doing construction during my apprenticeship. It wasn’t easy but I made it out of the woods just fine.
What conventions have you worked at?
I do the Richmond, VA shows twice a year—by far, one of my favorites. I did the Vegas Tattoo Festival, I’ve done a Tampa show, a nudist colony—never again…too damn weird—and I just recently did Tattoo Jam in the UK. Had a blast over there. Planning to go back twice in 2011.
Have you won any awards?
My first award was Best Medium Color in Las Vegas. My second was Best of Show at the Richmond Summer Show. Third was second place Best Small Color at this past Richmond Summer Show. Fourth was at Tattoo Jam in the UK for Tattoo of the Day. I’ve had a few publications as well, I’m just having fun in the industry and trying to get my work out there.
How do you describe your style?
Realistic creatures, things that fall out of my hand when I’ve clearly had a severe lack of sleep and way too much time on my hands. I think that kind of sums it up. I like to add a hint of humor in my work. Who doesn’t like to laugh?
What inspires you as an artist?
I draw inspiration from a lot of things that have to do with art and some that don’t at all. Greg “Craola” Simkins is hands-down my favorite artist on this planet. Gabriel Cece taught me well and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Jesse Smith was a huge influence and took me under his wing for a bit and guided me to where I was trying to get. Now, I get inspiration from weirder sources…well, some not as weird but here’s the run down: J. Scott Campbell, Marvel Comics, Jabbawockeez, Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, Nick JR, nature, conversations with friends, my very imaginative daughters Amara, Leannah and Aubrey, things that I think I saw that aren’t really there and vulgar jokes.
What other mediums do you work with?
I love sketching! I keep a sketchpad on me at all times. I have at least five or six in my room as we speak. Hopefully, I’ll release a book some day. As for paint, I used to be big on watercolors but then moved to oil. Oil takes forever and I would start pieces but never finish them so now I’m running with acrylics, thanks to Scott Olive!
What tattoo artist do you most admire?
Gabriel “Paranoid White Guy” Cece, Sean “Barbarian” Karn, Kyle “All My Clothes Match to a T” Cotterman, Jesse “I’m as bad ass with my left hand” Smith, Bryan “I hate toll booths” Reynolds, Timmy “Cup Cake” Barnes, Cecil “Sock Lion” Porter, Brian “Stylarosa” Hampton…way too many to (nick)name but they’ve all influenced what I do and are awesome friends.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Anything outlandish where I get to resort to improvising or just bending the rules to make it work. I love calf tattoos.
Have you tattooed any celebrities?
I was actually supposed to tattoo Lil Wayne and some Young Money members but those plans fell through due to bad communication.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
Eminem. I feel like I owe him some free work. Nine times out of 10 he’s what I’m listening to when I’m drawing or tattooing. He’s a major influence.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give to them?
Don’t get what your friends say you should get. Listen to your artist—we kind of know what we’re talking about. Get tattooed by someone who is legit. And this out of the house stuff needs to end.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Whatever my next appointment is. I just really enjoy tattooing and getting my work out. I’m going to draw up a “Love Machine” and see what happens.