Sep 25th, 2019, 11:34 PM

The Journey to Inked

By Amy Rouse
Stella Guan
Aspiring Tattoo Artist Stella Guan / Credit: Stella Guan
Aspiring Tattoo Artist at AUP

Finding where we fit in the world is a common difficulty, we all have. But, beginning a journey to our ultimate goal, with be one of the most exciting portions of your life. For Stella Guan, this journey is to become a tattoo artist. They are a sophomore at AUP majoring in Fine Arts, with hopes of helping others express themselves through tattoos. Many still think tattoos are repulsive and question why anyone would want art permanently on their body. A question to counter, why not?

Guan’s interest in tattoos started as a kid with everything their parents though was “unconventional.” Growing up with anti-tattoo parents hasn’t seemed to slow them down one bit, started with their first tattoo at 13 years old. “I was slowly mapping out ones I would want in the future since I was twelve,” Guan admits thinking back on when an interest truly formed.

The concept of tattoos appealed to Guan by “being so okay with the permanence of something and then showing that off as a work of art that has a special meaning to you,” noting that not all tattoos need meaning. A tattoo can be “something you think is cool and want on your body forever,” they stated which was “the coolest concept ever,” to Guan at the time and still is.

While being an aspiring artist themselves, there is the majority of the time, someone we look up to, even if you just enjoy their art style. For Guan, many different tattoo styles appeal to them. Bruno Levy is a favorite for his 1920s Coco Chanel based style. He is based in New York where Guan is from. Simone Klimmeck, who is based in Berlin, is known for her surrealist tattoos, which Guan loves despite not being tattooed by Klimmeck yet.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thank you @samy___baby Always feel honored to tattoo someone’s hands Done @bandit_studio

A post shared by Bruno Levy (@brunolevytattoo) on

Example of Brunos work / Credit: instagram

A prominent tattoo artist here in Paris is Max Newtown who works in Bisous Bisous tattoo shop. For Guan, his old school style is “very colorful but, he has some really solid line work,” which his line work is showcased on a tattoo Guan has! Having a style is very important in creating your own uniqueness and having people want to come to your shop due to your style.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DANCING DRAGON on the cool @dr_singe . J’ai du temps semaine prochaine @chez_meme_paris ————————————————— 10-11 mai BIARRITZ @electricdragontattoo -18-19 mai MONTPELLIER @montpellier_tattoo_convention -28 mai -2 Juin MANCHESTER @toothandtalontattoo -BERLIN SOON ——————————————————- ----------------------------------- #tattooparis #paristattoo #paristattooshop #berlin #biarritz #berlintattoo #manchestertattoo #parisienne #tattoo #tattoos #love #lovetattoo #tatouage #traditionaltattoo #radtattoos #radtrad #boldtattoos #boldtattoo #dragonballz #tttism #paris #radtrad #dragontattoo #snaketattoo #besttradtattoos #montpelliertattooconvention

A post shared by Max Newtown (@maxnewtowntattoo) on

Colorful Tattoo by Max / credit: instagram

If you have a tattoo on your body it is more than likely you will have a favorite or a few favorites as Guan does. Each tattoo represents a different part in your life, and they can become favorites over time and at different points in our lives. Since they have many tattoos on their body, it was “hard to choose one favorite, so here are three.” A “katana on my arm from Max Newton,” or “I have a picture frame with a woman and skeleton in it by Bruno, I also have a word tattoo by Bruno that says “‘Laisse tomber les filles.’”

 It just so happens Guan has also given themselves a tattoo. This tattoo was when they “first got the machine and equipment,” the tattoo itself says “Zoinks.” The reason you may ask? Guan “used to love Scooby Doo.”

Collage of Stella Guans favorite Tattoos / credit: Stella Guan

Being an aspiring tattoo artist means you can work towards your own shop, but you have to start at the ‘lower’ levels first. Anyone going into a career starts with an internship or apprenticeship. “I really hope I get to work with Max,” Guan commented when asked of any career-related goals. They really enjoy his shop, but at this time he “doesn’t need any help, but it [he] does in the future, he will let me know!” If helping out at Bisous Bisous Tattoo Shop doesn’t pan out, Guan will continue to tattoo at home and work on their flash book in hopes of getting hired by another shop. A flash book holds designs printed or drawn on paper and are typically displayed on tattoo parlors walls to give ideas for tattoos!

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Hey can you pass the peanut butter” Ink on paper, 2019 📸 @khayrovak

A post shared by Stella Guan (@stellaguanart) on

Challenges are a part of life, coming in all shapes and sizes. For Guan, their biggest challenge right now is being able to get “my custom work out there.” This can be true for all tattoo shops, someone comes in with a design and wants exactly what is on the paper. Many artists can put their own style on a design a customer brings in, but purely original pieces are hard to come by. One part of a growing industry is putting yourself out there. Something they believe is getting “more competitive.” Guan is trying to find ways to “stand out,” in the industry.  

After graduation, though a few years away for Guan themselves, is inevitable and plans of some sort come in handy. “I would love to have my own shop eventually,” Guan exclaimed relaying future plans. While from New York City, “I’d rather stay in Europe,” and they are hoping to work at one of their favorite shops in Paris which “would be an honor to work at.” London, Berlin, and Stockholm are also options, those of which were a part of the original plan.

Hard work comes to pay off. Do what you love and do not care about what others have to say. They won’t understand. If you’re ever wanting a tattoo, or to get one touched up, you can find their page here.