I'm one of a handful of women who began tattooing in the mid-1970s, long before tattooing was as popular as it is today. I began tattooing out of a private studio, by appointment in Wallington, NJ, then worked for Shotsie's Tattoo? in North Haledon before opening my own street shop in Woodstock, NY in 1990. In late 2000, the studio moved to Route 28 in the Town of Kingston, NY. Mid-May of 2012, the studio moved once again to the Historic Waterfront District in the City of Kingston. That studio was acquired by my apprentice, friend and "mis-manager", Leonie Grande in December of 2014. The new studio, now under her propriety, is called Yobori Tattoo. I can be found there upon request.
My early training was self acquired. I didn't intend to become a tattoo artist like some youngsters do today. I first got the notion to tattoo in 1974 while I was employed as a computer data processor. It was the hand-poke method which started my new career. I changed jobs and began working once again as a graphic artist and then a housewares designer for a lamp and lampshade manufacturer. That’s when I obtained my electric tattoo equipment. It took nearly three years of searching to locate my tools. Other jobs I held while teaching myself to tattoo include pre-press graphic artist for Montclair State College in the printing office. I also worked as a freelance paste-up artist for several ad agencies in Northern New Jersey and as a sign painter. All the while, in my spare time, I drew tattoo designs for potential customers. As I said, it was difficult locating tattoo equipment, since no information about tattooing was available. No Yellow Pages ads; no internet; no magazines. There was no "practice skin" nor pre-mixed colors. Needles had to be built, stencils had to be cut, ink had to be mixed.
In those early days, I kept to myself. I never assumed I knew it all. I knew I didn't. My grandmother's best advice was to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. I learned respect for the craft from noted "old-timers" and picked up tidbits of advice — priceless information. As famous tattoo artist, Lyle Tuttle says, "If you take good care of tattooing, it will take good care of you." I passed down the same respect of the traditions of tattooing to my apprentices/former staff. Due to the hard work of those who came before, tattooing was transformed into the artform it is today. (If you are a tattoo artist and don't know your tattoo history then shame on you.)
My involvement in the Alliance of Professional Tattooists, Inc. includes being a founding member and original member of the Board of Directors. I later became vice president and then president. I have been a member since its inception in 1992. I have also been a member of the National Tattoo Association, on and off since 1977. I give seminars on Pigment Mixing and Magickal Marks™. I was also the Art Director for the first two issues of Tattoo Advocate and an editor of Tattoo Planet Magazine.
My background in graphic arts is helpful in achieving good, clean work. My experience as a painter enables me to be free and creative in my approach to the handling of color. My attitude was and still remains to provide custom, one-of-a-kind tattoos in my unique style. My concerns for placement and composition continue to support my longevity in this business. After 39 years, I continue to tattoo as regularly as sought after and still attend conventions. I continue to book by appointment as I have done since I began in 1976. In those early days of tattooing, you had to specialize in ALL STYLES of tattooing. I can still do it all AND WELL! In addition to decorative tattooing, I do eyebrows, eyeliner and nipple reconstruction. I am expert at repair and rework. NO JOB IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIX!
Experience is everything…