Permanent Ink: Amanda Wachob Merges Fine Art and Tattoos

Widely known for her fluid, painterly tattoo work, Amanda Wachob‘s practice goes beyond just skin deep. In the past few years, Wachob’s fine art projects have appeared in numerous galleries and museum shows such as the Planthouse Gallery in New York, The Museum of Arts and Design, The Gewerbemuseum in Switzerland, amongst many others. We caught up with the artist to learn more about her foray into fine art and tattooing, recent projects, and how she likes to spend her free time.

Could you briefly explain the kind of media you work with?

I tattoo all different kinds of surfaces; canvas, fruit, leather and skin.

What projects are you currently working on?

So many this year! A video project, a series of lambskin hides, a series of tattooed lemons, some pages of experimental tattoo flash, some collabs in the works and Maxwell Bertolero and I are still evolving and refining the Skin Data project I launched at the New Museum.

Creampie, tattooed lemon, 9"x13" pigment print
Creampie, tattooed lemon, 9″x13″ pigment print

Where do you go to find inspiration?

The internet, the library, galleries/museums, and I really love talking to and learning from people.

I see a lot of cross media influence with your tattoos and paintings. For example, a lot of your tattoos have an abstract painterly quality, while your tattooed canvas series obviously pull from your experience as a tattoo artist. How does your practice in fine arts and tattooing inform each other?

Everything overlaps, I’m using the same tools but it’s fun to use different techniques depending on the surface. The leather allows for large gestural strokes that would otherwise damage someone’s skin, and with skin I can blend color the way I can’t on canvas + leather.

Who are some artists or creatives that have inspired you or influenced your style?

Initially the idea of an abstract tattoo was inspired by Hans Hofmann and Helen Frankenthaler.

Ghost in the Machine, tattooed linen, 36″ x 48″

Your bloodline tattoos are really unique. Could you explain the inspiration behind them, and why you choose a more graphic approach to designing these particular tattoos?

A bloodline is a tattoo that is made with water instead of ink, and the tattoo usually fades in about 2 weeks. I love the irony of a permanent mark being temporary. I’ve always been fascinated with symbols and ideograms and how such simple shapes can be so effective at communicating larger meanings.

LoveClub, bloodline tattoo, 9″ x 12″, pigment print

What has been your favorite design to tattoo or subject to paint?

I like tattooing things that are strange or surreal or experimental. And sometimes when I do too much of that, I really look forward to a good ol’ piece of traditional Americana flash. When I’m tattooing leather or canvas my focus is really on the types of marks I can get from my tattoo needles.

Live Wire, tattooed lambskin, 16″ x 22″

When you aren’t tattooing or creating art, how do you like to spend your free time?

I travel, I hang with friends, I go to openings, I take photos…(oops, art).

Before tattooing on skin, tattoo apprentices practice on fruit first. What made you want to turn this form of practice into an art form in its own right?

I wanted to revisit that early practice surface and approach it as an art object rather than as a practice material. It also goes back to the idea of permanence again too. It’s a permanent mark applied to an ephemeral surface.

oneone, tattooed lemon, 9″x13″ pigment print

In the past few years, you’ve participated in projects such as Skin Data at the New Museum and NYC Makers at The Museum of Arts and Design. What has the experience been like participating in museum shows? Is this something you hope to continue pursuing in the future?

I’ve had really wonderful experiences with the museums I’ve worked with so yes I definitely hope to continue and expand these types of relationships. Everyone has been very excited to open up a dialog about tattooing and people have been very eager to embrace it.

Benzohs, tattooed lambskin, 16″ x 22″

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I want to blur the line between tattoo and art until there is no longer a distinction!

Typewriter, bloodline tattoo, c-print 10″ x 12″

What Is your WILD Wish?

I want Wild fucking True Love.

text by: Emory Lopiccolo

Don't yet have an account? now!

Order The Radiant Issue Today

Order The Radiant Issue Today

Order The Radiant Issue Today

Order The Radiant Issue Today