For a long time, tattoos and business were considered a part of two very different universes that couldn’t be merged. The industry of tattooing has however proven in the past 10 years that it has a reason to exist and do business.

 

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If being a female tattoo artist used to be rare, we can admit that it’s now a thing of the past. In the past 10 years, the industry of tattooing has soared and is still growing ever so fast. To be a woman in the field of tattooing surely has a few down sides but for Huka Lewis, the good always comes up first.

Raised in Arizona, from knew at an early age that she wanted to express her art and attended private college in order to do so. Despite her strong will to learn, she never gave much time to her books because she was eager to start and get her hands dirty. When she finally decided to drop out of school, she aimed to find an apprenticeship in order to pursue a career that she knew was worth the work.

 

She met with LT Wood, who first refused to take her as an apprentice. « From that point on, I simply couldn’t give up. I called every day to know if I could come in and start; he would always say « No », so I would show up at the shop anyway, pick up a broom and see how long it would take for him to kick me out of the shop », she remembers, smiling. « I was not going to give up on this. I showed him that I really wanted to be there and was dedicated to it. At some point he saw he wouldn’t get rid of me. » she says proudly. Not all apprenticeships are created equal though; today, their forms vary and not every mentor has the same mind set when it comes what they entail.

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Some even charge apprentices to able to learn with them. « I was lucky enough to have a very old school apprenticeship; it took me 9 months before I was allowed to start using a machine and it lasted 2 years and a half. » Ten years later, she admits being thankful for the guidance of her mentor and admits to be forever grateful for the opportunity she had. « He would call me because he needed help and I would already be on my way».

 

Huka admits that what was once a booming field of work is now getting saturated: « It’s hard, there are so many of them now. ». When asked what she’d say to an aspiring tattoo artist, she confirmed that respect, patience and dedication were the key.

« If you really want it, you will find the time for it. You have to prove that you belong there and want it badly. »

« I also tell them to go to school. You need a backup plan and even if I dropped out, I went back to school and I am certified as an Art teacher. I tell them to go study marketing or graphic design. On one side, marketing is important because you have to market and promote yourself, that’s how it works. On the other side, graphic design teaches you the base of composition, form, etc. » Even if it seems contradictory at first, she says to have learned all of these notions from her younger sister Nikki, her rock. «I always tend to gravitate around her; she’s everything I’m not.» The two originally launched a Kickstarter campaign in September 2015 in order to start their own tattoo shop.

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« We want to create an all women tattoo shop focused on scar cover-ups, mostly helping trauma patients or cancer survivors. » Although they had a very good business idea, they unfortunately did not reach their crowd funding goal. She admits, however, that the project is still in the works.

If business, pleasure and tattoos were once considered three incompatible entities, Huka Lewis is living proof that one can be smart and business oriented without compromising on talent. With more people like her in this world, the industry could evolve and get the respect that it deserves. After all, it is a career like any other.

You should definetly go check her stuff out!

Instagram : @iamhuka

By Cynthia Presseault

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