Getting an apprenticeship can be a long and laborious process. It’s not always as easy as walking into your neighborhood shop, plopping your drawing portfolio on the counter and saying, “One apprenticeship, please.” Bright Bones spent three years knocking on every door in town and now, she’s one of the most sought after tattooers in Los Angeles. We caught up with Bright Bones to learn how she developed her love for art, how she’s perfected micro realism and what she could tattoo every single day.
How did you come up with the name Bright Bones? It was given to me by my Reptilian mother. That’s a joke and I feel like I have to explain this in print so I don’t potentially end up in the hospital. I used to draw copies of the diagrams in my father’s medical books as a kid and most of them were of bones. I don’t want to get deep meta here, but I feel like bones are physical memories that all living things leave behind. I don’t know what else to add to that other than I can't stop drawing bones.
How did you fall in love with art? I’ve been drawing ever since I was a tot, especially after getting my eyes checked out and wearing glasses for the first time. The world suddenly had this whole new definition to it and it was overwhelmingly cool with all of its shapes, colors and variety. I’ve always been a curious person and art was just another way for me to explore the world around me.
What made you decide to become a tattoo artist and how did you go about it? I had left college and gone into concept work for a few years when I started taking the idea of tattooing more seriously. I had a few friends involved in the industry earlier on in life and somehow it always came back to me in one way or another. Eventually, I decided I wanted to go into it and started building a mixed media portfolio. And after three years of asking around different shops all over the country and getting rejected, I finally landed an apprenticeship. It helped to get me started, but I still feel like I learned more from being around a variety of different artists and their unique styles.
What were the first few years of your tattoo career like? It wasn’t a smooth transition, as I had a lot going on in my life at the time. I spent a lot of time between different projects and freelance gigs, ultimately wishing I had more ability to focus solely on tattooing.
For those trying to get into this craft, I would say to find a place where you’re financially stable and comfortable before taking this on. It’s a lot to learn and refining it will take a lot of time. Years later I’m still constantly finding new and better ways of doing things. It becomes an obsession, but it’s a good one.
Do you have a signature style or do you prefer doing a bunch of things? I have signatures in my actual style, but I feel like the subjects have a good amount of range. I lean more into fine-line, realism and spooky stuff. I’m a big nerd for graphic novels, especially horror and surrealism, and those definitely influence my personal style. I like to hide little eyes in a lot of different things too. I’ve always imagined them as representing vices looking back at the viewer, but the fun thing about art is that it’s all interpretive. They don’t have to mean anything because they can mean everything.
If you could tattoo the same thing every day, what would it be? Bones, birds, florals and medieval stuff are always at the top of my list. My noir wolf work is fun too, so if I could do some combination of all of that on a day-to-day basis, I’d be one super happy lady! Reclaimed nature is another cool subject but I can go on and on for this question. It changes all the time.
Do you prefer color or black-and-grey? I usually appreciate black-and-grey work more than color because I feel like it has more presence on skin, although there are a number of color-savvy tattoo artists that completely change my mind whenever I see their work. It’s incredible what people can do and I love aspiring to that level of skill.