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Expressions of Joy: Interview with Tattoo Artist Who

Expressions of Joy: Interview with Tattoo Artist Who

Tattoo Artists3 min Read

In this interview with tattoo artist Who, they talk about being inspired by happiness, the joy of cooking, and their love of Troll dolls.

A creator of playful psychedelic pieces, Who is a tattoo artist based in the Bay Area that merges Traditional techniques and iconography with a vivid surrealism. Brightly colored, and meant to make you smile, Who was kind enough to give us some insight into their awesome tattoos and artistic philosophy.  

What were you like as a kid? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

I was really extroverted and high energy. I was really curious about odd things and was really attentive. I did not have access to many art classes, but every time I did an art project I had so much joy and satisfaction.

How did you get into tattooing and why was it something you were drawn to?

Since I was a kid I was really interested in needles and medical procedures. My parents studied medicine and that was a big influence in my life. I loved to think about the human body as a study object full of mysteries and surprises. Tattooing is the perfect middle point for surgery and art, so I became an art doctor or tattoo artist.

Your style is so psychedelic! Who are your inspirations or influences?

My artwork inspiration and influences are my friends, artists and people I have met that somehow sparkle magic and creativity. As a non-binary gender non-conforming artist I love a good balance between masculinity and femininity. I love bright colors and cute things that have a strong presence. My designs are inspired by traditional icons and contemporary experimental psychedelic art. I am inspired by clowns and fashion, toys and nature. I am inspired by happiness and good times, I want people to look at my pieces and smile or get freaked out! :) art should liberate you and make you more comfortable in your own skin.

You’re like a beautiful Harajuku clown queen and standing next to Pina and Billie you all look like the Surrealist Spice Girls! Can you talk about the queer community around you and how you hope to empower people through your style, tattoos, and attitude? Do you have a life philosophy?

Tattoo art is a lifestyle, tattoo art should liberate you and make you more comfortable in your own skin. Working in other art forms besides tattooing enriches my practice in many ways. I love doing paintings and sculptures together with fashion shows, makeup, technology and performances. I want my art to express who I am and how I see the world. All art forms talk to each other and allows me to manifest different aspects of my life. I think that a good life philosophy to follow is being happy, do no harm, and be you! I want to offer a platform for people to feel that they are safe no matter their race and sexual identities.

If you could only read one book, listen to one record, and watch one movie forever which ones would you choose?

Probably a poem book by Gabriela Mistral. A record: 2 en 1 from Zombies (Spanish 80s group). Movie: The Red Balloon.

Beyond tattoos, what are you really passionate about? What can you not live without? How do you spend your days off?

Beyond tattoos I am really passionate about food. I love cooking vegan delicious meals and having a little laboratory in my kitchen. I love fermenting foods and gardening. I am obsessed with plants and nature. Friends have described me in the past as food-sexual.

Do you have any travel plans, projects, collabs, merch, etc. coming up that you’d like to share? Any hopes for this year or the next?

I would love to do a tattoo tour on the west coast, maybe Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles. I would also love to tattoo in NYC again and visit my family in Puerto Rico. I will be working on a couple fashion shows and at the end of the year I want to have a solo show presenting a cute collection of different mediums I've been working on, like flash sheets, clothes and accessories, paintings, stickers and harvesting food from our garden!!!

Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

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