Before joining the talented crew at Brooklyn’s Magic Cobra Tattoo Society, Ol Ash had a boring old office job, just like most of us. Sitting in a cube day after day and staring at the same bleak computer screen for hours on end can very easily break a creative soul. Or it can pour gasoline on the artistic fire inside, as it did for Ash.
“Before I was tattooing I was a textile designer, I started off learning with my hands,” Ol Ash explains. “I was silk screening, and drawing all the textiles, then I ended up working on offices. I wanted to work with my hands again.”
Instead of jumping back into her old career, Ash took on something entirely new and started tattooing. Ash’s take on traditional tattooing, much like her taste in textiles, is decidedly geared towards the vintage. Muted colors, bold black lines, and timeless subject matter define Ash’s tattoos.
“I’ve always been highly influenced by vintage fabrics and I’ve been painting on fabrics since I was young,” Ash says. “So I take a lot of that imagery and push it into my designs. I grew up with my dad being an artist and I’ve always been highly inspired by old vintage advertising, old cartoons definitely. Anything retro.”
Tidbits of vintage art surround Ash’s station at Magic Cobra Tattoo Society, with more than a few versions of the iconic Betty Boop keeping watch. That old-school influence on her art is seen most distinctly throughout the women that Ash tattoos. In this episode of SESSIONS, Ash creates a vintage lady smoking on a cigarette that would be at home on the back of an issue of Life selling Virginia Slims, a design indicative of the unique style that she has developed.
“That’s what I’m trying to put out there — traditional, quirky things that make you slightly uncomfortable, but are also subtle, you know?” Ash says. “The uncomfortable feeling is subtle, so your immediate thought is, ‘I think that’s really cute, but maybe there is something a little off.’”
Embrace that quirky feeling and get to know the work of Ol Ash.