SHOP: East Side Ink, New York City; Classic Tattoo, San Marcos, TX
Nearly 24 years ago, while in art school, Andrea Elston and her friends realized they could get free tattoos. The plan? Have Andrea learn the method. “I never realized 24 years later I'd still be tattooing. But I was in art school studying illustration, and tattooing was far more rewarding since it made people so happy.”
Basically self-taught—“For better or worse”—her friend Elio Espana (of Brooklyn's FlyRite Studio) helped her out tremendously with her work. Today, Elston's specialty is primarily black-and-gray religious tatts and traditional Japanese work, though she is flexible and capable of almost any subject and style. “Of course I was influenced by people like Jack Rudy and Filip Leu, but the real old timers who managed to tattoo for a lifetime are my heroes for loving and appreciating their job,” says Elston. “It's so important to be just as influenced by new and upcoming artists who bring fresh talent and excitement to the art form.”
She's inked everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to members of punk and hardcore bands in New York, like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Biohazard, and Type O Negative. “Tattooing has taught me patience and appreciation for the wide spectrum of clientele I've had over the years. The experience of acquiring a new tattoo, whether small or large, will stay with them forever.”
After several years of tattooing in New York City, Elston recently packed up for Texas. When she's not tattooing, she's just a country girl at heart who loves riding and training horses.