Artists: Whitney Havok
What year did you start tattooing?
I officially started tattooing in spring of 2010, during my last semester of college.
How did you get into tattooing?
Like most tattoo artists, I was a good artist on paper and in other media, but wanted something more challenging. The idea of tattooing was always appealing to me as an artist; it seemed the next step in making my art more permanent, more adaptable and something people would not only pay for but would wear on their bodies for the rest of their lives. When I was ready, I took my portfolio filled with drawings, paintings, sculpture photos, and graphic design work to my local tattoo studio and literally invested everything I had in exchange for them to teach me how to tattoo.
What was your first shop experience like?
My first shop experience was a little different, being in a small, religious college town. We were required to wear uniforms, clock in and out on a time card and had no control over our own schedules. We priced by a clear sizing chart that had varying sizes of circles dictating the price of the tattoo, which you held up in front of the artwork and whichever circle it fit into was the designated price. So, we would be charging the same amount for a 5 inch astrological sign as we would a 5 inch portrait, one taking 40 minutes, the other 4 hours. The shop was owned by a businessman who had never tattooed in his life and was run in a way to restrict the artists who really wanted to advance in the industry. Once I felt I couldn’t handle it anymore, I moved back to my home state, Washington, and started my official tattoo career.
What led you to open Paradox Tattoo Gallery?
I opened in May of 2013 probably for the same reason most shop owners do, however, based on my previous experiences, I had a certain vision in mind that I had hoped would set my shop apart. My goal was to create an environment that promoted artistic freedom and a strong sense of family. I wanted a place where each artist felt they could experiment and grow at their own pace, where we push each other and propose challenges otherwise untaken. I strive to make Paradox unlike any other tattoo studio. We have no flash racks of tattoo designs, we are fully custom and work to make each piece unique and well suited to each client.
Do you have any special training?
I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts from Indiana State University, where my emphasis was in graphic design. Through all my years of fine arts training I had learned a lot of important techniques and skills that have translated to the tattoo world.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
Team Paradox has attended all the local conventions within a few hundred-mile radius, including the Seattle Tattoo Expo, Portland Tattoo Expo and Tri- Cities Expo in Kennewick. We will continue to branch out our clientele and exposure, going to new shows whenever possible.
You work in a multitude of styles. What is your favorite style to work in?
I am not sure if I have a favorite style; I feel my preference changes all the time. I love to be challenged, so for me I find a style I have not done before and experiment with it. Once I have spent years dabbling in all styles, maybe then will I be able to say that I have a favorite. I have fun with abstract pieces, including elements of paint splatter, geometric or otherwise. I love to mix styles; I enjoy forcing the juxtaposition of realism with simplistic traditional. Lately, I have been focusing on a mixture of neo-traditional with illustrated secondary line work with my usual muted color palette. Although my styles will always change, I will always enjoy photo-realism.
You work in both color and black and grey. Do you prefer one to the other?
I love working in both black and grey and color. I would have to say that it depends entirely on the subject matter. Some pieces I would prefer to do in black and grey to focus on the contrast and textures within the piece. For others, the color palette and play of colors make the piece come together.
Why do you think it’s important as a tattooist to be versatile in so many different styles?
The clients we get are always varying in styles. Each project that walks in the door may be in a different style than the next. Unless you have the ability to be proficient in different styles and have the versatility that the clientele needs, you will miss out on projects that may be out of your area of expertise.