The way one feels a sense of longing for home, familiarity and a sense of belonging... that is how I regard my communion with nature. Breathing in the smell of the damp forest floor, hearing the leaves rustling in the wind, feeling the folds of a flowers petals, I long for the slow and peaceful pace away from the city. For me, tattooing is a balancing act. I need the quiet slowness of nature to recover, revive, and refill my inspiration. I need the beautiful people in the city to create, to make, the images that I am absorbing as I wander through the woods. The colors, the contrast, the curves, and the patterns of the plants and creatures and the way they support each other in the landscapes are a masterpiece waiting to find you. You are my muse, the uniqueness of your body is like no one else’s. I am cultivating your tattoo long before we even meet, this is what it means to be an artist.
I am compelled to create. From my earliest memories, I would spend hours drawing, coloring and painting with my grandmother. As a child, it was a way to quietly pass the time, it was entertainment and expression. As I grew and matured it became a coping mechanism to deal with an environment that was challenging and confusing. Creating images, objects, and systems are at the fundamental core of my personality.
Growing up in Alaska was harsh. Even life in the city, where there is more access to knowledge, community and entertainment, was still isolated. Alaska is not like the rest of the country. The Canadian barrier from the continental US is a massive divide, which is both expensive and time consuming to cross. When I was a child the winters were colder, and we didn’t have the internet or computers to keep our minds off of being stuck inside because the conditions outside were inhospitable. The environment itself forges a kind of quiet toughness that deteriorates connections with those outside of your home, especially in the dead of winter. In contrast, summer is an explosion of activity, construction, community, and bustle. The mania and depression that Alaskans experience annually is something that one could easily write an entire book about.
The community that I was a part of was a loving god fearing community. If it wasn’t for my parents’ church community helping us out regularly we would not have had a home, or food, for our family of eight. My parents were careful in keeping non-religious influences as far from us as they could. This retention from an early age sparked a curiosity that became a rampant ardor for finding authenticity in humanity. We didn’t discuss our pain, our heartache, our abandonment, or our trauma. “We are blessed”, was a common phrase, and the idea that embodied our deep disassociation with unbearable stress and trauma.
I left Alaska as though someone had lit my entire hometown on fire and I was escaping with my sanity and a few of my most valuable possessions. Moving to Portland in 2002 was liberation. For the first time in my life I felt the weight of depression lift and discovered that my skills and coping mechanisms were no longer necessary. As I shed the layers of repression I began to grow and expand in ways I had never imagined.
As I found my community, and my heart softened and opened to the connection that I was craving, I welcomed tattooing into my life. The craft of tattooing was filled with hardened people, who have all have resisted the tide of convenience to pursue a challenging, competitive, and often frustrating career. It required all of the skills and coping mechanisms acquired in my youth to survive the first few years. My critical nature combined with the judgement of clientele was almost enough to break me early on. I am so grateful for the grace, love, and support that was given by my peers and colleagues.
Today, tattooing is my gift. It is the product of the accumulation of skills required to perfect a craft. Designing and making tattoos brings me great joy and I appreciate everyone one of you who have shown interest and pursued getting work from me. Deepest gratitude.