Perhaps what makes Toya Lamy such an integral part of the tattoo community is not only her unique take on Traditional classics, but also her powerhouse perspective full of positivity and authenticity. In the video below, Toya mentions that many people didn't think she was "worthy" of becoming what she is now, but she turned those negative opinions down and came out strong. Her natural progression as a stellar tattooer is a perfect example of resilience, hard work, and freedom to embrace the truest self possible.
Part of the Tattoodo X Zalando collaboration, Toya was one of four creatives to represent the meaning of Free to Be: a philosophy that celebrates authentic living to the utmost...whatever that may mean for them, or for you.
A lot of people are completely unaware of the stigma that follows heavily tattooed women…Can you talk about your experience and how you try to handle perceptions in a positive way?
Older generations meet me with a prejudgement of who I am based on my looks. But it's okay, because i know who i am. Let them judge! It’s so common to judge a book by its cover. I would much rather like people judge me blindly by my looks, than to judge me by my personality without knowing me in the first place. Surprise people with the person behind the tattoos, with your morals and beliefs, not with your looks.
You mentioned that people thought you weren't “worthy” and that it made you work harder to get where you are now. What would your advice be to people who are experiencing the same and want to overcome their fear or outside criticism?
Try to think about who is judging you. Do those people have knowledge about a certain style? About your style?
Marcel Duchamp once said, “Not everyone is an artist but everyone is a fucking critic”
I guess that kind of stuck to me when I first read it. I guess you need to develop a thick skin and try to expand your knowledge and your artistic skills to overcome those who might criticize you. I guess what I’ve learned is: dive into books of the greatest artist of that particular style and expand your knowledge of how their stuff was put together. Where it came from and how it evolved, artistically. To understand and improve your own art you sometimes have to go back and get into it a little more, than you thought you would have needed.
What would you say your personal creative philosophy is? What do you hope people feel when they collect a piece from you or see your artwork?
Mastering your techniques and evolving my personal skills and knowledge, giving it back to people and wanting them to have a good time, while getting a piece done by me. I want my clients to feel free to be themselves, to feel welcomed, appreciated and accepted the way they are.
Artist should keep in mind: your clients will always carry a certain feeling with them, whilst looking at the tattoo you did on them: BETTER MAKE SURE YOU GAVE THEM A GREAT EXPERIENCE rather then letting them think: “damn, that artist was an asshole”. That’s gonna screw up your work because all they will remember is the feeling you gave them besides the actual tattoo.
I’ve always dealt with self doubt but learnt to it a part of myself and into one of my strengths today. I think it's what keeps me going, and keep me developing and improving my skills and creativity. I believe that you’re not in a constant move in self-development, you will not evolve at all. If someone or yourself brings you down, the best revenge is to let that grow you even more.That's the drive, which keeps me going.
Why was this collaboration with Tattoodo and Zalando interesting or important to you? What were you hoping to convey by letting an audience in behind the scenes of your life?
I guess it’s a very personal thing why I felt so humbled to be chosen by Tattoodo and Zalando for their collaboration: Finally being seen as an artist, and being accepted to talk about overcoming fears and handling people whose trying to talk you down. I really hope to help people trying to understand all you gotta do is: Give it your best try. OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
I think what I love about you, and your work, is that it’s such a beautiful example of tattooing as a way to express the self and overcome trauma or adversity. Can you talk about how tattooing, and collecting tattoos, has helped you in this way? How do you think others can experience this as well?
At first I thought of it as payback to people who doubted me, as a person or/and an artist. Nowadays it’s my passion, it’s part of me and it helps me to overcome certain things, which happened to me in the past, by being tattooed and tattooing others.
It’s the thing I’m willing to give up my most valuable thing in life: My Precious Time. It’s what I love doing. I’m not sure if it will help others but the older we get the more we realize who to express ourselves from the inside out. Feel free to be your own motivation. Feel free to be your very own inspiration. Feel free to be your own drive. Feel free to be you.