TTT: Where did you grow up?
Melody: I grew up in Long Island, NY.
TTT: Where do you currently work? Prior, where have you worked?
Melody: I currently work out of my private studio in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Before this, I tattooed at a walk in shop in Bushwick called Blasphemy Tattoo. I originally started tattooing out of my home. Prior to tattooing, I was a dancer and dominatrix.
TTT: How long have you been tattooing?
Melody: Altogether, maybe 6 years professionally.
TTT: What inspired you to start?
Melody: I always liked tattoos. I always thought they were cool, admired people with tattoos. What made me want to start was wanting to be tattooed, but not having the money to get work done. So I started tattooing myself.
TTT: Did you grow up around people with tattoos?
Melody: Not in my immediate family, but there were some tattooed people who came around. I always thought it was so cool to have such unapologetic control over your appearance like that. I remember being pretty young and telling someone I wanted to be covered in tattoos. I’m Thai, and tattoos are such a huge part of the culture and religion. My parents definitely weren’t into the idea back then, but they’re super supportive of me now.
TTT: How did you learn to tattoo?
Melody: I’m self taught. I originally started handpoking, mainly learning everything from the internet. In college, an ex of mine had a coil machine that they helped me set up and I never went back to handpoke. I practiced a lot on myself and my friends at the time. Eventually, more people wanted tattoos and it just grew from there. I learned a lot from trading with other artists and talking to others in the community. I’m still learning everyday.
TTT: How did you develop your style and how would you describe it? What are your influences?
Melody: I feel like my style is always changing. It kind of just grew into what it is. I’m inspired by everything and everyone around me. I’ll see a photo of some old biker dude or some washed up rockstar with a blown out tattoo and think “yeah, that definitely needs to be on my flash.” I look at a lot of old school tattoo flash and vintage pulp horror art. I don’t know how I’d describe my style. Sex, death and the occult interests me.
TTT: How is it working in a private studio?
Melody: I love it. There’s a lot of freedom, but with that freedom requires a lot of discipline. Especially with scheduling and being your own boss in general. It’s great though, to have a space I can share with other like-minded artists where we don’t have to worry about the pressures of a typical walk-in shop. There are aspects to walk-in shops that I love too. It’s just different.
TTT: Do you practice other artistic mediums? How do these intersect with your tattoo work?
Melody: I like any creative type of thing I can get my hands on. Drawing, painting, leatherwork, clothing, jewelry, music. Everything all kind of ties into each other. I find it’s good to practice other forms of artistic mediums outside of the one that primarily makes you money. Otherwise you get stuck in that creative rut where the only thing you can see is what makes you a quick dollar. That really isn’t a place I want to stay creatively.
TTT: How would you like to see tattooing evolve? What would you like to change about the industry?
Melody: Tattooing should be more accessible to everybody. I see a lot of young artists wanting to start out, but not knowing where to begin or where to get tattooed. I want everyone who’s thinking about tattooing, but too scared to start, to just go for it. Be smart about it and do it safely. New exciting artists on the scene is what keeps the culture alive.
Tattooing is such a sacred practice. It’s a powerful energy transfer between two people. Artists need to be more aware of this and the effects they have on their clients. You hear stories everyday of situations with tattooers abusing their power. I think the veil of “celebrity tattooer” needs to be dropped and realize that we’re all just people out here providing/purchasing a service.
If I could change anything else about the industry, it would be more companies selling eco-friendly and biodegradable supplies. The amount of single-use plastic that’s wasted is actually insane.
Here’s a link to some eco-friendly tattoo supplies:
Eco Tattoo Supplies
Green House Tattoo Supplies