Anna Michener started the Art and Soul Tattoo shop three years ago, but she said her love of art has gone on a lot longer than that.
“I’ve always drawn my whole life,” she said. “There are a lot of artists in the family, so I was always encouraged.”
She said she started her tattoo career at the Altered Images shop in Cumberland, Rhode Island, but she said the work was less than creative.
“I apprenticed at the bottom,” she said. “You clean toilets, go on coffee runs and do all the things that aren’t the glamorous parts of the job you don’t see on TV.”
She said she practiced all the time on whatever she could find, which was usually an orange or a grapefruit.
“Every apprenticeship is different,” she said. “It depends on the person, basically however much you impress your teacher will help get you get to the next phase.”
She said she also sometimes did her early work on some extremely good friends.
“They’re still good friends, so that’s a good sign,” she said.
Michener said she first started drawing when she was a small child, usually with her mother or grandmother.
“Eyes nose and mouth,” she said. “I’d sit on my grandmother’s lap and we’d both sketch for hours. I have really fond memories of that. My mom and I would go for nature walks and I’d pick up a leaf or something and draw that when I got home.”
Michener said she loves cartoons, and drew them a lot as well. She said she started with Hanna Barbara, moved on to Beetlejuice and Rob Zombie.
Michener added she loves comic books, and she actually received notes and tips from her favorite comic book writer Sam Kieth, best known for the comics The Maxx and Zero Girl.
“I reached out to him in high school and it was really cool to hear back from him,” she said.
She added music is also a great inspiration for her work.
“From Mozart to Queens of the Stone Age to Wu Tang Clan, it’s all over the place,” she said.
Michener said her shop is a lot more focused on the entire process of the tattoo, from conception, confirmation and inking.
“We like to talk about options and not just do whatever a customer has on a piece of paper,” she said. “If people want what they want then we do the absolute best we can with the subject matter. We encourage people to get bold imagery, and keep up with where it is going.”
She added she wants to have a more relaxed atmosphere in her shop.
“I really wanted to create a positive environment that people would love to come to work everyday and not have any sort of pressures,” she said. “I want some positive to offer and give back to the community I grew up in.”