Up & Coming is a new series where we feature those new artists that catch our eye, and introduce you to their rising stardom.
UK-based tattoo artist Elle Donlon is taking American traditional and tossing some witchiness onto it. Only a little over a year into her tattooing career, Donlon’s lines are bold and her content is playful. When you dig into her portfolio, her influences are clear, but also run deep — you can see her love for Dan Higgs and Robert Ryan, as well as Valerie Vargas. Donlon’s imagery, like her heroes’ work, is imaginatively warped and weird, but highly recognizable.
There’s no direct path into tattooing, as we’ve all seen time and time again, but a great support system and perseverance pays off. Donlon received a Fine Art degree at Camberwell School of Arts in London, abandoning drawing during her time there to make space for more conceptual work. “I think I spent the whole three years secretly wishing that I'd taken an Illustration degree,” Donlon says. “Organically I was drawn to tattooing, [and] as I was drawing again, I was getting tattooed on a regular basis, and realized if I was to tattoo myself I would have the dream job.”
A lot of the young artist’s inspiration comes from Southwestern folk art, Asian spiritual and religious imagery, and her various books on myth, nature, folklore, witchcraft, alchemy, and female anatomy. Creativity doesn’t always come easy, but Donlon’s imagination twists and winds when it needs to.
“If in doubt and nothing comes, I’ll just start drawing a girl. If I were to tattoo babes on people all day, I'd be pretty ok with that!”