Tattooing wouldn't be where it is today without females, both as inspiration and as artists. INKED looks at a few of the American women who spend every day wrist-deep in ink and blood.
SHOP: New York Adorned, New York City and Brooklyn
“I'm not exaggerating when I say that every day is an unusual experience,” says Stephanie Tamez, tattooist at New York Adorned. “The cast of characters— good and bad—that walk through our doors is endless.” Then there's the roster of celebrities she's spent time tattooing, including Christina Aguilera, Pink, members of The Strokes, and, interestingly enough, novelist John Irving, who had her tattoo the names of his wife and kids.
“I was introduced to tattooing when I went to Switzerland to get my first tattoo from Filip Leu. Leu gave me my first lesson,” she says, though she did not apprentice with him, or anyone else. “I'm basically self-taught, but I did spend a year working with Bill Salmon and Juni at Diamond Club, and they taught me a lot. I continue to learn from the crew at New York Adorned everyday.”
Tamez's hobbies are not your average-day activities; they include hunting down rare books that have any unusual woodblock prints or old engravings, botanical renderings, scientific images, heraldry, and old religious images. The hobby helps explain why she is recognized for her font and text work, although she hesitates to claim a specialty. “For me, the challenge of tattooing is in producing pieces of diverse nature. Working on the same type of pieces over and over can become boring,” she says.
“Tattooing has changed my life completely. It's a challenging career; it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. That said, it gives me a lot in return. From the friends and family I have made to all the artistic challenges I face everyday, tattooing has been very rewarding.”