Three and a half years ago, tattoo artist Laura Martinez left her home in France for the United States with nothing more than a gut feeling and a degree in product design under her belt, but it didn’t take her long to realize that the US isn’t always the land of opportunity. Unable to find work due to the tourist status of her visa, Martinez began drawing at the encouragement of her husband — Sam Perry.
It’s easy to ascribe our successes to the unwavering support of our significant others, but Martinez’s life probably would have taken quite a different direction if it weren’t for the encouragement of her husband. “One night he came home and there was like ten drawings on the floor, and he was like, ‘woah. What happened?’ That day was a revelation to me, that was the first night I went to bed where I kept thinking about what drawings I could do next.”
It wasn’t until after drawing a tattoo for Perry that Martinez’s art career really started to pick up, drawing countless tattoos for other people, eventually becoming frustrated that she wasn’t the one actually tattooing them, but merely selling the designs. After convincing herself that tattooing was a viable career choice, Martinez spoke with the artist she so frequently sent her tattoo designs to about an apprenticeship. “He took me under his wing, but I had been there eight months and I never touched a tattoo machine,” explains Martinez. “I don’t think he was ever going to let me touch a machine. I think he liked the fact that I was doing everything, and I was sending him my customers, too. One day all of that stopped because he got arrested, the shop closed down, and [my apprenticeship ended].”
Martinez once again found herself without a job, yet somehow more determined than ever to learn everything there was to know about the craft. And so she did what any self respecting millennial would have done — she googled it.
Practicing on her eager posse of roommates, Martinez navigated her way through the uncharted waters of a home schooled apprenticeship, pausing to question herself, her line work, and everything in between along the way. “I think if I had had a normal apprenticeship, I wouldn’t have had the balls to start [tattooing],” she confesses. “I’m super independent. I like having opinions once it’s done, but I hate showing it to anyone else when I’m not happy with it, so I liked doing the process by myself.” After eventually landing a full time residency at Sins and Needles in Greenwich Village, Martinez risked everything this past October when she opened her very own tattoo shop — Fleur Noire.
Today Martinez’s work is best described as fine lined geometric work meets natural influence. Flora and fauna make up the majority of her portfolio, while tessellating patterns accentuate their organic lines. “I’ve always loved geometry, that has always been my thing,” she explains, citing her time in Madagascar as another major influence. “All of the [geometric] designs that I do are from old tribal tattoos. They’re protections against bad energies. The triangles or the things I do in the background all have connections with my time there.”
But no matter how many countries she travels to or artists she meets, her biggest influence will always remain Perry. “I know I would have never done it without him. If he didn’t push me to draw, I would have never done it.” Sometimes our loved ones push us out of our comfort zone, they take us to places that we could have never ventured to on our own. And whether they’re nagging, insisting on just one more sketch, or chugging along beside us in terrifying business ventures, they’re often the encouragement we need to take make our dreams into realities.