Hi Emma! Introduce yourself to the Tattooed Women community!
My name is Emma Thompson, and I have been tattooing for 2 1/2 years. I have wanted to be a tattoo artist since I was about 14 years old, so the fact that I am actually tattooing now is a total dream come true. I work at Neat Tattoo in Vancouver, Washington which is a women-owned and -operated tattoo shop.
My dream is to travel and tattoo all over the world, but the Pacific Northwest will always be my home. I have lived here all of my life and I absolutely love it.
Honestly, I really believe that my friends and family could see me as a tattoo artist very easily. I have always loved drawing, painting, and pretty much any medium I’ve ever been able to get my hands on. Art was part of my identity and I wore it somewhat loudly, always carrying a journal for drawing, and always having drawings on my arms.
Ever since I was young, tattooing always caught my eye as a medium I wanted to learn. I think I designed my first tattoo for someone at age 15. It just seemed to be a good fit from the get-go.
The first time I ever got tattooed, I talked to my artist (Ly Horisoda) about my dream to become a full-fledged tattoo artist. Seven years later, I went to get tattooed by his apprentice, and Ly told me to bring in my portfolio and apply to be his next apprentice! I was so thrilled and immediately did just that. He took me under his wing and I began my tattoo adventure.
I grew up in a super conservative, Christian home. My dad always discouraged any type of art career (“Become a doctor! Become a nurse!”) but tattooing? Oh, man. That was a straight-up sin. I would constantly draw on my arms as a kid. I got a lot of hate for that.
So the fact that I pushed through all of that, and followed my heart, I’m really proud of myself. I’m truly living my dream.
I think what really kept me true to my goals was the support in which I received from some family members and close friends that have always supported my art.
Have members of that community come around to you and your ink at all?
It is so hard to say which piece has been my favorite thus far because I have so many! But I think that my favorite was actually a flower I had my boyfriend come in and get so that I could practice stippling. I had a total breakthrough and learned how to stipple that day. It just felt like I unlocked something, and I haven’t stopped stippling since.
On your Instagram, you show a lot of beautiful black and grey and blackwork tattoos. How did you land on those styles as your trademark?
Yes! So on my left arm, it’s really just a patchwork collection of things I love: bunnies, ladies, flowers, talons…just a real assortment of things.
The organic-black work on my right arm was a piece my dear friend Dani Liberal did on me. It was a concept piece he had been wanting to do for a while and asked if I’d be interested in getting it. Needless to say, I absolutely love it. He took hours hand-drawing it onto my arm to flow with my arm and it took more than 12 hours to do. I call it my armor.
I’m currently working on a large back piece with a rad artist, Chloe Devora. It’s a goose with a snake wrapped around it. Definitely one of my favorite pieces so far.
Is there a story behind that? It sounds really cool!
It was actually a piece that Chloe had come up with and posted as “up for grabs.” I snagged it as soon as I saw it and she was able to adjust it to fit perfectly to my back.
What’s your process for deciding on your own ink? Are you a planner, spur-of-the-moment, deeply meaningful, or get-it-because-you-like-it type of person?
I think I have three that are my favorites.
My chest tattoo, which is a butterfly (done by @niaink on Instagram). This one has given me a new sense of confidence! I’m thrilled with it.
The back piece that I’m working on, a goose with a snake wrapped around it (done by @chloedevora on Instagram). I love it so much – it’s definitely the biggest piece I’ve gotten so far! Wish I could see it better!
I absolutely love food and going out with friends. I enjoy spending time with my pets too (three dogs and a rabbit). My boyfriend and I also watch A LOT of Family Feud. One day we are going to be on that game show. Drawing, however, seems to be the thing I do most with my spare time.
I love Family Feud! Is there a category that comes up and you just know you’ve got the answers?
Lately, I have been so busy with custom pieces that I haven’t had a lot of time to play with watercolors and other mediums. But during the first quarantine, I was able to paint so much! It was honestly such a nice break and I was able to make a lot of art.
Definitely a positive outcome of the pandemic! And if people want to follow you and your art, where can they find you on social media?
Instagram is the only one I’ve got so far! I’m @obsidian_rabbit.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because you can.
Thank you, Emma!