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International Women’s Day Interview: Ash, Tattoo Artist

1. What inspires you to join the industry?

I’ve loved tattoos since I was a little girl. Tattooing is a medium for people to convey their stories. Every tattoo is a translation of one’s personality, interests and story. This aspect of tattooing intrigued me to join the industry. I have a profound appreciation for listening to people's narratives and forming genuine connections, and I am very fortunate that I can be in this industry where I can always connect with people. It makes my job so much more fulfilling, transforming their narratives to an art piece.



2. Can you share a brief overview of your journey as a tattoo artist and how you entered the field? 

Growing up, I was always artistic, but I didn't have the chance to explore art because of traditional Asian parents’ expectations. At 20, I realized I needed to pursue my passions, as I feel that I have conformed enough to parents’ expectations. I do not wish to have regrets for not trying the things that I have been wanting to try. The idea was to take advantage of my youth and explore what makes me happy. And to people’s surprise, I barely had any tattoos when I first started my career, but my intention was simple, I just wanted to be a tattoo artist.



3. Do you think your unique perspective as a woman influenced your approach to being a tattoo artist?

Women are more sentimental. I think this is an imperative part of being a tattoo artist, we often bring a sentimental touch to our work, which I feel is personally crucial in tattooing. Building relationships with my clients and understanding their stories helps me design and customize their pieces based on these stories.



4. How long have you been in the industry? What are some of the key milestones in your career that you're particularly proud of?

Currently, I have been tattooing for 4 years. The very first milestone of mine would be to be able to find my own style. As every tattoo artist first starts on the same note, we would do basic stuff like fonts and line work tattoos. From there we would navigate the style of work that we’ll go into. For me, I was fascinated by Micro Realism, the details, intricacy and fun incorporation of geomatical elements. From there, that’s when I started this very style of mine. Having a personal style of work would be ideal for growth as there is a focus and a way to leave an impression. Hence, to be able to find my own style is a very important milestone for me.

Another proud moment was definitely establishing my own studio. The process was challenging, from securing a space to navigating the logistics of running a business, it was not easy but I’m glad to have a support system consisting of my family, best friends, clients and my partner to support me through. My boyfriend being an artist,  @mowwwis , helped me greatly through this journey, constantly supporting me and never failed to believe in me.



5. Have you faced any specific challenges as a woman in the tattoo industry, and how did you overcome them?

Being a woman in this industry comes with its share of challenges. Initially, I was unaware of the male dominance within the field until I was in it. Still, I focused on perfecting my skills and proving my worth through my work. Throughout the years, I've also witnessed a shift in the industry, with more women breaking barriers and thriving as tattoo artists.

Throughout my career, I’ve definitely received sexist comments on my appearance and my judgments as an artist. In those situations, I was disheartened as I felt that the hard work that I've put into building my career was not recognised and appreciated. Despite encountering sexist comments, I remained steadfast in my dedication and let my art speak for itself. For them to give such remarks might be a casual thing, but it made my feel that my hardwork and sleepless nights over the years are not recognised. However, I've learnt to channel that into a motivation to always be improving on my work and proving my capabilities.



6. Are there specific themes or subjects that you are particularly drawn to in your work?

Oh yeah, I really love contrasting artwork, like blending classic and modern elements to create visually striking pieces. Mixing different eras or subjects adds depth to my designs, such as portraying Eminem's face on ancient Mediterranean statues. I have found those arts to be very interesting and I will try to incorporate them in my work as well.



7. Are there specific types of apparel or shoes that you find essential or particularly comfortable when you come to work?

I really like the idea of dressing up for work. It boosts my mood and confidence. As an artist, I believe that presenting myself in a professional and put together manner instills confidence in my clients, reassuring them that they will be in good hands.

Even on the most casual days, such as when an oversized t-shirt seems like the go-to option, I opt for subtle yet impactful accessories. Adding a necklace or non-prescription glasses can effortlessly elevate the overall appearance, adding a touch of sophistication. 

And needless to say, for a tattoo artist, footwear has to be comfortable, as we might be standing or staying in the same posture for hours! Fun fact: we will also wear black colour clothes as well! Just to prevent ink from staining our clothes.



8. Describe your journey in three words.

Blood, Sweat and Tears.


To view more about Ash's work, you may visit her profile: @pokew.pine


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