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Artist highlight: @elises_pokedpieces

Words by Taylor Anderson
Artist highlight: @elises_pokedpieces

Sweet Rabbit Studio’s @elises_pokedpieces deep dives into life as a tattoo artist. The challenges, the thrills and everything in between. Known for her intricate and delicate dot work, you’d never guess Elise is only two years into her tattooist journey.

What’s it like being a tattoo artist & how did you get into it?

It is amazing. It's a dream job, and it's a privilege.

During lockdown, I started a business selling ceramics and pieces of my art started doing really well, but it wasn't really something I felt like I could have done full time. I wanted to find a job that would allow me to do all the creative stuff on the side as well. Which is kind of when I started thinking about tattooing because I knew that I'd be able to manage my own time and also be able to do something creative alongside it.

What’s the best part about being a tattoo artist?

Getting to collaborate with really cool artists, meeting really cool people and getting to travel, also getting to draw on people every day for a living.

What’s the worst part about being a tattoo artist?

I would say the worst thing about being a tattoo artist is the admin and balancing on skin time and off skin time properly… and the backache.

What is handpoke?

It's basically just a slowed down version of machine, but completely by hand. It’s a lot less invasive than a machine, so there’s less trauma to the skin. Handpoke tattoos tend to heal a lot easier as well. There's less scabbing and typically maybe less itchiness.

elsies pokedpieces back tattoo

Why did you choose this technique?

I just thought I'll just start with handpoke because it was cheaper than buying a machine. I had full intention to do machine in the end. Poking just felt like the starting point. Then I kind of did one tattoo in this technique and I think it took me like four hours or something, but I was really just obsessed with how it looked in the end. So then I just continued to do more of that. I learned machine as well. But the dot work is kind of what I do the most and what's the most popular.

What is your approach to designing flash tattoos?

I like to find images of things that have an interesting pattern or maybe a high contrast or an interesting aspect of detail, which I think the dots would translate well into.

Do you have a favourite design?

I did a butterfly on one of my clients, Oscar's Chest. I think that's one of the favourites.

elises poked pieces chest tattoo

What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a tattoo artist?

Keep drawing and trying different techniques until you find something that just sits right with you. I went into tattooing thinking I was going to have a very different style to what I actually do now. I thought I was going to have a way more ignorant approach and it kind of came out the opposite because I tried something different and became obsessed with it.

How many tattoos do you have?

Last time I counted it was over 40. I can't remember exactly the precise amount, but I know that it's over 40.

elises pokedpieces

Which is your favourite?

It’s so hard to pick a favourite because I have so many from friends, really amazing artists. I have a Red Dragon on my back and that was my first back tattoo. I think that's one of my favourites, but it is really hard to pick.

Do you have any tattoo regrets?

I think it's hard to have tattoo regrets because over time they just become part of your body and you can recognise that that was something that you got at that period of time in your life, and it kind of symbolises that.

What advice would you give to someone getting their first tattoo?

Make sure you've eaten, make sure you’ve drank lots of water and make sure you wear some comfortable clothing. The biggest piece of advice would be to communicate if you're not happy about anything, if you want to change a placement and if you're not happy about the size. You should be able to move the stencil as many times as you want. It's on you for life. So you should feel comfortable enough to communicate exactly how you're feeling.