Every month Beautiful Bizarre Magazine chooses one of our favourite creatives to TAKE OVER social media for the day. This month, we have chosen tattoo artist and winner of TV Show Best Ink Season 2 Teresa Sharpe to share with us the artists who have inspired her.
Hey everyone, I am super excited to be a part of the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine Take Over! To start, well, it’s always strange to write about oneself so I’ll try my best to keep it simple but not too serious.
I’m currently residing in Richmond, Virginia where my personal life and artistic passions keep me super busy. When I’m not explaining to my 15 year old son why he can’t drive the lawn mower like a race car (an argument I inevitably lose) I’m usually immobilized by my hairless cats who see me as the sole heated cat bed in the house. Or I’m chasing my pet crow back to his cage where he has stashed his latest collection of stolen items. And if I do manage to leave the house for fun you can usually find me at the barn trying really hard to not look terrified while I learn to ride a horse. But enough about the personal life…
For the last four years I have been working hard to create a tattoo studio with Erin Chance that brings a focus of fine art to the tattoo world. I have been tattooing for 10 years now, but I come from a background of fine art. Having graduated with a BFA in 2007 I have since been working towards changing the way people collect tattoos. I am by no means the first tattoo artist to push this idea but rather one of many who sees tattooing as its own art form with a living, breathing, aging canvas that will eventually expire.
In most cultures, tattoos are a form of adornment or a list of historical events in ones life (death, tragedy, memorial, achievements, births, friendships, hardships, etc.) however in some cultures and over the years there are some artists whose work has become extremely sought after and coveted. This is when tattooing transcends its craft like roots and becomes an art form. Much like the gallery artist, my goal became to create work that resonates on an individual level without the influence of the client.
It is my current intention to create content based solely on what interests me. I then create lists of projects or ideas that I would like to tattoo. These lists are posted and potential collectors are offered the chance to procure them. I have since been taking it a step further and turning certain tattoos into paintings, as well. There are just some techniques that cannot be achieved in skin. This also allows more than one person to collect the art but only one individual will actually wear it; thus circumnavigating the eventual disappearance of the artwork when its canvas expires. Morbid though it may be, a tattoo artist’s work exists only so long as its wearer. As I have never been fulfilled by one medium alone I enjoy taking these tattoo creations and pushing them even further on canvas. I hope to continue pushing my fine art agenda into the tattoo world with a collection of oil/acrylic paintings based off of current and future tattoos.
With this takeover I would like to introduce to you some of the artists who currently inspire me. These artists are chosen for their innovative tattoos/artworks that consistently push the envelope. I believe they frequently bring new ideas to the art world via content, composition, and technique. It will be extremely difficult to narrow it down to 7 artists so some of my criteria for choosing will be based off of uniqueness, productivity, resonance, and technical skill. These artists push me daily to stay true to myself and my goals, but also to push outside the normal constructs of tattooing.
Based out of Calgary Canada, Heather McClean has been walking the line between painter and tattoo artists for some time now. In my early years of tattooing she was a huge inspiration for how I wanted to balance my art between multiple mediums. But aside from her incredible ability to maintain motivation and be productive in multiple disciplines, she also continuously evolves. Heather has found a way to seamlessly stitch together her clients desires with her over arching theme of universal connectedness through nature.
Her work always seems to feature an ethereal fantasy quality along with the looming presence of death, but it is a death without finality, an ending that suggests only the beginning of something greater. While Heather has been featured in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine before, the focus was on her paintings, so I felt it fitting to reintroduce her from a tattoo artist side. She is the perfect segue into fine art tattooing.
Tom Strom is another heavy hitting artist with a massive portfolio of productivity. His illustrative tattoos have been telling beautifully creepy tales in candy color tones for years and they only continue to delightfully horrify me more each year. His compositions are always dynamic but it’s his creepy half dead creature creations that truly captivate me. His zombie deers and animal/insect hybrids are the perfect balance of gory/gross and cute/fluffy. But don’t think he can’t pull off a bad ass grim reaper from time to time. Tom excels at large or small scale work. Currently residing in Edinburgh Scotland he often takes long strolls through graveyards and generally selfies like a wizard from a 1980’s metal magazine.
Mike has been a name in my industry since before I started tattooing. However, it wasn’t until more recent years that I truly started to appreciate what he was doing. For so long I only knew him as an American artist who did traditional Japanese tattoos and paintings. I’m so glad that social media came along to enlighten me. It wasn’t until I began to peruse his portfolio that I truly saw the genius behind the work. Yes he can and does paint and tattoo in a very traditional japanese manner and if your not paying attention your going to miss all the hilarious Easter eggs so subtly painted into each piece.
Many of them run commentary on the many vices found in our current society such as technology dependence and social media obsession, others are a Japanese take on a nostalgic horror movie or cult classic. Mikes dedication to an ancient style is impressive especially so far removed geographically from the culture. However, his ability to bring a modern spin to it without sacrificing such hard earned technique is what I admire most. Truly an innovative way to explore our current society. If you haven’t done it yet, go peruse his current overwhelming portfolio. There is never a shortage of fresh work from Mike.
I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon Becky’s work. But I remember being frustrated that someone was already out there drawing the stuff that’s floating around in my head. I instantly felt very connected to her work. I immediately sought out her stand alone book “By Chance Or Providence” written and illustrated by Becky. It remains one of my faves and stay close to my drawing space. I have since been lucky to collect several of her prints and small collections.
Always sketching, this girl keeps me motivated with her constant update of new work. She is a prolific creator in writing and illustration. Her characters always carry the weight of theirs lives or deaths so visibly in her work. Like a ghost story her images haunt me, they are all keeping secrets. If I had to choose a favorite background for her characters it would be the night of a full moon. My top pics of her characters are always illuminated in torchlight or by the soft glow of a night sky. It’s easy to lose yourself in her ink rendered worlds wether fighting a Leviathan or haunting the forest in the rags of a wedding dress. The tragedies and triumphs of her characters are so accessible. I suggest you check them out.
I recently had the pleasure to finally meet Steve in person when we were both asked to do some needle testing for a company based in Germany. And to my overwhelming delight he just so happen to bring his sketchbook with him. It was hard not to drool all over his beautiful drawings. I have never found more inspiration from another artist then when I am allowed a peek at the process behind the work. The thumbnails, the re draws, the scraped ideas (that are still amazing) and Steve’s sketchbook did not disappoint.
Steve’s work stands out because of his dynamic compositions that almost effortlessly fit the body. Followed by a simplified color palette that perfectly describes light on form. His characters and creatures are always imbued with an immense energy and life all there own. His work goes beyond body adornment and really tell a story. Truly a unique creator wether the tattoo theme is a classic character or something completely new he never disappoints.
A unique voice in a sea of regurgitated ideas. Mike’s work truly stands out in tattooing as well as illustration. As a tattoo artist we are often given the same themes from clients over and over wether it’s flowers, birds, or skulls inevitably we will have tattooed more than one idea a few times. What I love about mikes work is that every single time he has to do another skull or another bird or wolf or space theme… He totally flips the script.
While stylistically his line work and color palettes stay similar, his well of new ways to draw a common theme seems to never run dry. He consistently reinvents layouts and compositions creating dynamic pieces that cleverly fit the body or the canvas. I feel the best way to describe his designs is slightly off world. Everything is maybe filtered through a space lens and I love it. His bold work is eye catching to say the least. I consistently creep his page for inspiration and motivation.
I don’t know Natalie. We’ve never met and I don’t know that we’ve even had any interaction via social media. She is a newer artist on my radar. I can’t say with any certainty how long she has been tattooing or drawing, but I can say that her work truly intrigues me! I find myself visiting her page often as a reminder that there are so many ways to approach a new piece. Her style is so uniquely her own. There is no one I would compare her to. It’s a must see for yourself kinda style.
Her tattoo career is just beginning it seems and I truly can not wait to see where it goes. Her dark figurative work captures a feral energy and movement. Her exaggerated anatomies are so perfectly intentional and well thought out that it never feels awkward or accidental. Instead the characters seem to gain a measure or grace and strength in their elongated forms. I look forward to the evolution of her style on skin.
Huge thanks to today’s Guest Curator Teresa Sharpe for sharing her art loves and inspirations with us!
Teresa Sharpe Social Media Accounts