Coolest Day Job

Tattoo Artist & Teacher

People usually do a double take when I say “I’m a tattoo artist”.  The feedback is always something like “Really?” (accompanied by a judge-y eye raise), “Wow, that’s so cool” or “you want to see my tattoos?”

After many years working in theatre, as a theatre manager, director of youth programs and a few years as a full-time student. I thought I wanted to go into arts administration but something inside me said…”you are an artist, not an administrator!” I was the one who always said, “I don’t want a regular 9 – 5 job”.  So being the black sheep that I am, I decided to do something CRAZY different and quit the university to go to tattoo school! (against the advice of many people around me). In 2006, it was NO picnic for me to become a tattooer (you can read about my journey here).

Once immersed in the world of tattoo art, I fell in love with the art itself, but not with the industry.  In many ways it is an “old boys club” and a somewhat harsh environment.  This part didn’t fit with my personality, but I kept my head down, learned as much as possible.

I’ve been an artist since an early age, but this was definitely a different world from other art forms I had experienced. The learning curve was much steeper! It took a lot of time and experimenting to even feel comfortable.

But once I began to see the happy faces of my trusting clients…that made all the difference in the world! And taking a variety of art classes and tattoo workshops helped me leap forward in my skills. I’ve also been adamant about my studio being welcoming, colorful, friendly and “drama-free”.

I absolutely love to tattoo my original designs, and it’s an amazing feeling to put your artwork permanently on someone’s body. I can lose myself for hours in the work and forget to take a break, or stretch or even what time it is!

A Home Away From Home

My tattoo studio is practically my second home.  I literally live 5 minutes from the shop—which is both a blessing and a curse! (great to have such a quick jaunt to work—bad cause it’s too easy to “just go to work for a bit” and lose track of time).
In 2011, after a mountain of paperwork and red tape, I opened the tattoo school and began training others in the basics of tattoo. I’m truly lucky to be a teacher, because I have learned so freakin’ much myself over the years as an instructor. The students have been a huge blessing and it’s been incredible to watch them blossom in to their own style and confidence.

Currently my partner and I are working on a tattoo textbook and developing an online tattoo course to offer additional opportunities for learning.

I’m eternally grateful for the doors that have opened for me through art and the school. I have enjoyed incredible growth, wonderful clients, freedom and financial success that I would have never thought possible 10 years ago!

“Shelly is the definition of class act. Long story short I was cheated out of a fantastic tattoo after already having four sessions started. Shelly brought me in finished a piece that was bigger and better than I could have imagined spent 5 hours without a break and did a magnificent piece on my arm all for only a tip. I wish I could have given her what she deserved. Words cannot express my gratitude and compliments I’ve received. Anybody that can have a piece done by Shelly would be truly blessed. She is an amazing artist.”

KT Powell

“Shelly is a wonderful artist, I’m very pleased with the work I’ve received. I definitely plan on returning for more. Her attention to detail is amazing. I’m constantly getting complimented on the artwork I’ve received from her. Thank you Shelly, I look forward to working with you again.”

Erin Gray

“I received a tattoo from Shelly recently. She is not only a talented artist, but a wonderful, caring, and thoughtful person. Her business and school are run in a very professional yet thoughtful way. Thanks!”

Heather Pratt

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