Artists: Teneile Napoli
What year did you start tattooing?
I first began drawing in 1998 under the guidance of my mentor, Shane Little, and I did my first tattoo in 2001. But through life, love, and family it truly started whole-heartedly in September of 2005.
How did you get into tattooing?
My friend and mentor, Shane Little. Once upon a time, my year 10 teacher, Mr. Henry, said, “There is a girl at school that has tattoos similar to your drawings—she would love your art.” That day at lunch, Sarah [the girl] came over to see my work and said, “You just have to meet Shane.” So next lunch I skipped school and went to meet him. I fell in love with his art and vision straightaway. We would draw together and he would show me and tell me so many things, and he still does to this day. I now have his son working with me, and Shane is always popping in and telling us of all the prophets of doom and death. He is the dark wizard.
What was your first shop experience like?
Very much old-school. I was the shop slave, did all the artist stencils, draw ups, set up, clean down, shop clean, made all the needles for everyone, dealt with bookings, along with other things. It was certainly the complete opposite of the environment I have now created for my studio.
What brought you to open up Garage Ink?
When Shane retired I knew I needed to make a studio with the same dream as his, and that was to create an environment for artists to grow and learn from each other, to come and go as they please, and to create no pressure—just to teach love and show understanding for clients and each other. The clients are number one in our shop. If you don’t give respect, how can you have respect, truth, honesty, and just flat-out fun?
Do you have any special training?
Well, I could step over the line, but let’s keep it G-rated. [Laughs.] I have a diploma of visual arts and new media, also in marketing and management and photography. I also know how to nearly touch my toes. Not quite there yet, but it’s my dream and I’m going to make it happen!
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
Melbourne convention in November 2013, and Hamilton, New Zealand, in February 2014.
How do you describe your style?
Not too sure—probably a lot of freehand fantasy with a realistic twist.
What inspires you as an artist?
Happiness, love, and expression of one’s desires, to create from my heart. And, of course, all the amazing artists I follow on Instagram. Thank you guys so much! I’m being inspired every day!
What other media do you work in?
My main medium in the last two years has been pencil, but recently I’ve tried oils, and man oh man, am I in love!
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
All my team in the studio inspire me every day. I love Fabz, Carlos Torres, Carl Grace, Nikko [Hurtado], Niki Norberg, Moni [Marino], Emily Rose Murray, Jasmin Austin, Dmitry Vision, 613, Victor Portugal, Bob Tyrrell, Paul Booth, Josh Duffy, Dean Lawton, and Daniel Rocha, just to name a few. There are just too many.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Girls and dark gothic—I love the suggestive curves of a woman’s body. I try to capture the love, the pain, sadness, or lost longing in the eyes’ emotion when I do faces.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
That I’m only going to do the best tattoo I can do, and to have trust in me.
What is the tattoo scene like in Australia?
Very cool. I have made some amazing, lifelong friends in the indus- try here in Australia, as well as all over the world.