I’m Workin’


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I’ve had way more opportunities to practice the noble art of drawing on people with needles than I’d thought possible. I’ve had friends offer to let me play on them, I’ve had strangers take a chance. And some of them have even paid me AND asked to pay me for a second one. I mean, hell yes. So following those first few that I posted the other day, here are some more I’ve gotten to do:

beebutterflyconstellation watercolorno day but todayorigami cranesemicolon

teddy bear touch upcross heart ekg

Here’s what I’m learning: There are a lot of different needles. There are a lot of different skin types. There are a lot of different inks. There are a lot of different tattoo machines. There are a lot of different power sources and cords. And now you know what you need to know to tattoo. You’re welcome.


Sunflower Painting Video


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I just realized that I uploaded another instructional painting video about a month ago and never posted it here. So guess what I’m doing? Posting it here. I know. You didn’t see that coming, did you? I’m just full of surprises. Anyway, sit back, eat some nom nom, and watch a painting happen. Or grab a paintbrush and paint along. Either way, enjoy!

Calf Skin Is the Best


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Holy crap, I LOVE calf skin. The skin on the back of your leg, I mean, not the skin of a baby cow. And when I say I love it, I don’t mean, like, for dinner. I love to tattoo it. It is the perfect skin. It’s pre-stretched and firm as though it wants to be tattooed. It’s all, “Hey there, ladycakes, come shove some ink into me.”

So, yesterday I was supposed to do 5 tattoos, but then the weather decided to be an asshole and snow and I only got to do 2. But they were both on people’s calves and OH MY GOD I LOVE CALF SKIN!!!

bonnies-watercolor-poppy.jpgJon's Dopey and Empire State Building

Today, one of Julio’s regulars was in and I showed her pics of what I’d done yesterday and she asked me to give her a tattoo while she was in! So I got to do this little cutiepatootie.

Taylor's elephant and dandelion

And what I learned from her is that back of the neck skin is lovely. Side of the neck skin is a total asshat and is not my friend. But I’m doing my best to win it over.

I’m learning, folks, I’m learning.

How I DIY’ed a Tattoo Studio


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I realized that, after months worth of renovation work, I never posted pictures of the inside of the studio. I managed to do a lot of the work myself, but did have to hire contractors for some stuff like the floors and some electrical work. Anyway, here are some transformation pics for your viewing pleasure.

Here are a few before pics of the lobby:


Note the strange carpet and tile combo.


The space was weirdly divided down the center because the previous owner had taken 2 spaces and combined them into one.


After tearing out the non-rated wall splitting up the room, we put down vinyl flooring, and used a product called marmarino that’s kind of like an interior stucco treatment. It makes the walls feel like concrete and can be done in just about any color. Applying it for the texture I wanted took a little getting used to, and I learned that you have to mix huge batches if you want the colors to be consistent throughout the room. Were I to do it again, I might just go with white plaster and then do a lime wash over it. I didn’t want the walls to be uniform, so I’m okay with the color transitions, but I do wish the first layer had been consistently one color instead of some ending up dark and some ending up light. Luckily, I figured that out for the 2nd coat, so it looks pretty matched. Still, the overall effect is great and I’m a little in love with them.


lobby 3lobby 2lobby 1

The countertop for the check-in desk is really just plywood that I painted using a countertop faux finish. It’s the second time I’ve used their products, and overall, I like them. Just be aware that essential oils can strip the paint. Found that out the hard way in our half bath at home. Luckily, I had leftover paint (it really goes a long way) and was able to repair it.

We got the barnwood for the check-in desk and the coffee table from a guy we know who deals antiques. I love the barnwood because it’s real, not uniform faux finished wood like you find at Lowe’s or Home Depot. The coffee table is an old tool chest that we attached some legs to.

We changed out the solid white doors and installed glass doors that we stained to match the floors and the shelving we put in each studio room. The shelves are just 1″x6″ boards that I stained with a walnut color and attached with brackets.

There are 4 studio rooms that we’re letting the artists decorate themselves. Here’s what I did with mine:


Yes, those are hundreds of handmade butterflies on my ceiling.


And yes, that is a tree in the corner of the room.

my room 5.jpg

I made the tree out of leftover styrofoam from the haunt.

my room 3


And that’s that!

Our Weird


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The last few months have been crazy, and inspiring, and terrifying, and complicated, and hard, and wonderful as I transition from one business to another. And along the way, my friends (I count you among my friends, dear reader) have put up with my bitching, cheered me on, consoled me, and rejoiced with me. And you’ve embraced my weird and brought your own to meet it and it’s so comforting to have people whose weirds match my weird. It’s what has gotten me through such a time of turmoil.

In your honor, I’ve made a couple sketches and put them on some shirts and mugs and cards and other stuff. If you want to thank someone (spouse, friend, child, barista, whatever) for their quirk, these might be a good way to do it.


weird men's shirt

T-shirts like the one above, and prints and tote bags and just about anything else can be found here and here.


weird greeting card

Greeting cards like the one above, along with clothes, and bags, and mugs and stuff of this drawing available here and here.

That Tattoo is Shady


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Today I got to practice tattoo shading for the first time! Once again, Julio graciously let me play on his practice thigh. He had an old tattoo outline of a skull from someone else on his upper thigh, so I got to start to fill it in. We had to quit halfway through because an actual paying customer called and wanted to come in right away, and we certainly weren’t going to say no to that. But here’s today’s effort:

Julio's Leg.jpg

I’m looking forward to seeing it healed. It’s SO much easier than lining and I already feel pretty good about picking it up quickly. Now I just need people who are willing to let me practice on them! Any takers?

My Brain On Meditation


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I’ve struggled with insomnia off and on since middle school. My dad and I used to get up in the middle of the night to watch televangelists and laugh at their hair and spray tans. I read the dictionary at night in high school. Twice. I read Don Quixote in Spanish, which I don’t speak a word of other than “Yo tango una gato que se llama es Ella,” which I’m not really sure I spelling or conjugating correctly since I only know it because someone taught it to me while I was very drunk one night in college after I had complained that I felt like I hadn’t learned anything all day. All in an attempt to get to sleep. The reading, that is. I have taken several different types of sleeping pill, as well as natural remedies like Valerian Root over the years. But I’ve figured out that sometimes if I do a guided meditation on an app I have on my iPad, I can get to sleep without the aid of chemicals or planticals.

So there I was, meditating my way into sleep a bit ago using a new guided meditation app, and I was pretty relaxed and starting to let go of my day, when the meditation guide-lady said “acrosst.” Yes, with a “t” at the end. And then it was all over for me.

ME: Why did she say “acrosst?” There’s no “t” in across. Maybe I misheard it. Should I try to rewind and see? No, the light from my iPad will just wake me up again. Is “rewind” the right word? There’s no tape involved. “Backtrack,” maybe? “Reverse?” No, that’s not right. What do the Millenials call it? I don’t know. But where did that “t” in “across” thing even come from? How did it work its way into people’s pronunciation? Why do I care? Shut up, Emily. You’re supposed to be breathing.

MEDITATION LADY: Your body is heavy.

ME: Did she just call me “fat?” WTF?

MEDITATION LADY: Your mind is still.

ME: Yeah, still trying to figure out why you, who have no discernible accent, would say “acrosst.”

MEDITATION LADY: Imagine your body melting with each exhalation of breath.

ME: Like that guy in the first X-men movie (was it the first one, or a later one? I get them all confused.) that Magnito turns into a jellyfish. I love that guy – the actor who plays Magnito. Is he the one who’s friends with Patrick Stewart, or is he the one who plays Dumbledore? Or are they the same guy? I always get them confused. Hey, just like the X-men movies! Well, whoever he is, I love him. I don’t like the actor who turns into a jellyfish. I can’t remember his name either. If Dumbledore and Magnito got in a fight, who do you think would win? I have an itch on my ear. I’ve already relaxed my arm. Will I be undoing all that meditation if I reach up and scratch my ear? Wait, am I technically meditating right now? I mean, really, let’s be honest. I’m failing at this. Just like I fail at everything.

MEDITATION LADY: Relax the tension in your jaw.

ME: There is tension in my jaw!! How did she do that?! She knows I was clenching my jaw just now but she doesn’t know how to pronounce “across?” The world just doesn’t make sense sometimes. I should really give up on meditating tonight and take a sleeping pill. And maybe write this down before the pill kicks in.

And now, dear reader, here we are. Sweet dreams.

Superhero Underpants Work


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Superhero underpants work, y’all. Seriously. You can’t have a bad day if you’re wearing superhero underpants. If I wear superhero underpants when I have to take a flight somewhere, my flight never gets cancelled. It works every single time. So with that knowledge, I wore them yesterday. And as an added guarantee, I wore superhero socks, too.

Why yesterday? Because yesterday I knew I was going to be giving my VERY FIRST TATTOO. (I mean, unless you count the permanent makeup I’ve already done. But that’s different equipment so I’m not counting it.) My mentor, Julio, has a thigh he reserves as his “practice thigh” for those of us wishing to learn the noble art of shoving needles and ink into skin. So I got into work bright and early (if “bright and early” means “noonish,” which, let’s face it, it does for an artist) and Julio let me dive in. Squeeeeeeee! And eeeeeeeeeeep! For my first time, he just wanted me to  learn a little a line work. So he asked me to design a frame to put around an existing tattoo he has, and this is what I did:

first tattoo ever.jpg

The longer lines are pretty shaky, because, well, I was shaking like a mofo, because, well, I was terrified. But by the end I was feeling more comfortable, and I’m kinda sorta almost proud of it…for my first time.

While I was finishing up, Julio’s next customer, who I’m going to call Moose*, came in and liked it enough to ask me to do a tattoo for him. So on my very first day, I had my very first paying customer. Whaaaaaaaaat?!!! Double squeeeeeeee! And double eeeeeeeeeeep! That just doesn’t happen.


So anyway, this kid was all of 22 years old, which explains his lack of fear of having a total novice ink something for all eternity into his skin. It will also explain his choice of subject matter, which you’ll see below.


I’m not sure how one voids a beer, unless maybe he means that he’s voiding his bladder of beer? Whatever, it’s not MY arm.

Since I’ve only learned lining so far (and just barely that), he’ll have to come back once I’ve had a chance to practice a little shading on Julio’s thigh. Then we can add shading and color.tattooing Moose.jpg

I learned a few things in my adventures yesterday: First, skin is bumpy. Like, really bumpy. So getting clean, straightish lines is tough.  Second, the skin on your upper arm is nothing like the skin on your thigh, and the skin on Julio is nothing like the skin on Moose. So even if I get lining down well on one piece of skin, it’s a whole new ballgame on the next piece of skin. Practice will be everything. Third, adreneline makes me shake like crazy. Fourth, I’m glad I’m not 22 anymore.

So, yeah, yesterday was a big day. And I owe it all to superhero underpants.

*If you’re wondering why I’m calling him Moose, it’s because he reminded me very much of this construction worker, Moose, who worked on our house when I was a teenager. Moose was in his early 20’s, and liked to get drunk and do stupid shit. Like, hop onto my horse without permission and get bucked off. One morning, I climbed out of the shower and was dancing around my room while I got dressed for school, and mid-half-naked dance, looked out the window and saw Moose sitting in his car in the driveway watching me. Yup. He was a swell fellow. That weekend, he got drunk and fell out of the back of his friend’s pickup truck and broke his arm.  Luckily, that meant he couldn’t come back and work on our house anymore. What a fuckbucket, guys. Seriously. Maybe someone should have gotten him a pair of superhero underpants.

Name That Painting Results


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Alrightyroo! Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas for names for several of my abstract paintings. Suggestions mostly came in on Facebook. Without further ado, here are the ones I’ve chosen from your offerings:

Abstract I

Dreamweaver 48″ x 84″ oil on canvas

Thank you to Amanda Weber for the title, “Dreamweaver.” Prints and things available here and here.

Abstract II

Lava’n You 18″ x 24″ oil on canvas

Thank you to Alfreda Melvin for the title, “Lava’n You.” Prints and such available here and here.

Abstract Cityscape I

Forgotten 30″ x 26″ oil on canvas

Thank you to Cassie Haggert for the title, “Forgotten.” Prints and swag available here and here.

Abstract Cityscape in Blue

Metropolis in Blue 18″ x 24″ oil on canvas

Thank you to Shannon Chappell for the title, “Metropolis in Blue.” Prints and schtuffs available here and here.

The Artist


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As I’ve been studying tattoo styles in preparation for starting my training  in the art of tattooing, I’m definitely drawn to how well art nouveau lends itself to tattoos. It’s very stylized, elegant, feminine, has defined outlines, and I love a lot of the more popular color schemes. And I love the ornate decorative elements. I had one blank wall in my tattoo room, and I wanted to create something new for it, so I decided to create an art nouveau painting of an artist. Voila!


The Artist 48″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas

Prints and clothes and books and such available here and here.