Disembodied hands spinning webs of supernatural spells, spritely fawns playing flutes, the rings of ancient trees and their stoic mushroom friends...Tina Poe's work is a delicate balance of dark arts and a childlike adoration for nature. She conjures the spirits of wise cats enthroned on lotus petals by depicting their likeness on the skin of many collectors who wish their bodies to be infused by her illustrative magic.
What is your artistic background? Did you always want to be a tattooer and how did you get into tattooing?
“Tattoo Artist” was never a career I had pictured for myself as I went through school. I always communicated best through visual arts but the majority of tattoos I had seen throughout my life had been tribal or cartoon characters which said little about the client or the artist. I did eventually find, in magazines, work and styles that spoke to me and helped me realise that the tattoo industry was more than the yellowed flash sheets that I’d grown used to seeing. I remember seeing Anil Gupta’s work as a teenager and understanding that even painterly styles of fine art that I grew up admiring could be translated into skin.
I went to an art magnet high school, then art college. I wanted to illustrate young adult book covers. I got into freelance illustration and then ended up in the tech and design industry. While getting our first large tattoos, I encouraged my partner who was a storyboard artist for TV and film at that time, to talk to our tattoo artist about an apprenticeship. This started his tattoo career and many years later, after encouraging me to get into it as well, I did too.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattooists or not? Are there any films, books, visuals, that inspire you?
There are so many artists that I admire. I love figurative painters like Alice Neel, Lucian Freud, Kent Williams, Natalia Fabia, Brad Kunkle, Sean Cheetham, I could go on! So many talented tattoo artists as well, and some that I’ve had the pleasure of befriending, Meagan Blackwood, Anka Lavriv, Nomi Chi, William Pacheco, Tine DeFiore, Ryan and Matt Murray.
I have always been a reader, fantasy, psychology, and where both of these intersect with spirituality. The idea of storytelling is the main inspiration for my own work. Stories arrive in my mind and since visuals are my language of choice, they come out in my sketchbooks, paintings, and as tattoo designs.
I believe tattoos are a form of healing, personal growth, and embedding lessons learned throughout life.
Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?
I believe tattoos are a form of healing, personal growth, and embedding lessons learned throughout life. Even a silly tattoo can bring about a healing smile. Stories can encompass many lessons learned and a simple visual can remind us of so much.
Personally, I strive to enjoy the entire process of creating artwork and making that artwork part of someone’s life. I am trying not to define success by any end result, and instead find peace in the act of creating and connecting with others.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What is the best advice you feel you can give?
As an artist, constantly creating is far more important than perfectionism. Each new piece can teach lessons that you would otherwise miss if you were stuck on one small detail for too long.
For many artists it’s important to learn to disengage from your work, not take critique personally, and learn to listen while also being able to clearly communicate your intentions.
Beyond tattooing/creating art, what is most important to you? What do you wish you had more time for?
Being out in nature, gardening, hiking, and my little family fulfill me. I wish I had more time to see friends. The tattooist and business owner schedule can be a bit unpredictable. Balancing my time is something I’ve always struggled with and continue to work on. I often fall into a pattern of working too much, taking on too many projects, and not leaving enough time and energy for myself. I am trying to improve this.
Do you have any plans for 2019 that you’d like to share? Travel plans, collabs, projects, merch releases, etc?
This year I am mostly staying put in Austin and concentrating on my shop, Moon Tattoo. I have a new artist this year and several exciting guests coming up, while also working to grow Moon by hiring one more additional resident artist and always making new friends through more guest artists.