Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Martell.
Melissa, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Art has been a part of my life since childhood. Drawing instead of doing homework, skipping class to hang out in the art room, doodling in the margins of my notebooks. I was on a mission to make art, even though I didn’t really have an end goal in mind, I felt compelled to create. It’s fun to look back at my old notebooks and doodles and see where my mind was wandering at the time.
I majored in art in college because seemed like the most logical step for me. I spent four years over in the Midwest at the University of Iowa. I worked alongside some kind and creative people, exploring different mediums and styles. Still, I wasn’t quite sure what my life path would look like. Moving into adulthood, creating art became more laborious as it carried the added pressure of supporting myself financially. It was hard for me to get back to that childlike state where I was creating purely for the process and without pressures of daily life.
When I finally started getting tattooed I was in a difficult place – by that point, I was living in Los Angeles. I had tried lots of different career paths from graphic design to nonprofit work and was beginning to think a career in art was impossible. I felt lost, isolated, and was dealing with severe depression. My first tattoo was simply an image that made me happy. It didn’t have some deep significance to me at the time, but it grew to mean something deeper.
One by one I began collecting more tattoos purely for the joy they brought me. Getting tattooed myself and realizing the power in a simple, lighthearted image was transformative for me both emotionally and artistically. Not only did tattooing help me to become the person I wanted to be, but it also changed my viewpoint on what art should be and brought me back to a place where I was creating from a more lighthearted, childlike state of mind.
That transformative power made me fall in love with tattooing and pursue it as a career. I had tried so many roles, creative and otherwise, but nothing felt right until I found tattooing – it made me happier than anything else had.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a tattoo artist. I tattoo cute, bold, quirky pieces. I love having a light, playful nature in my style, while still infusing each piece with a reminder or a feeling. I’m inspired by American Traditional tattoos for their fun, irreverent nature. I create pieces that hold meaning, but still, give people a little smile to brighten their days.
My artwork is permanent, so once I’m done creating it, it’s going to walk this earth on someone else’s body. Drawing and tattooing for me is a joyful process. There is an energy exchange happening between me and my client, and I hope people can feel the positive energy I’m putting into each piece. Because of the personal nature of my work, I feel it’s my job to create from a joyful state of mind while also creating the cleanest, best-executed tattoo I can make and I hope my work reflects that.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
My advice is simply to make art that makes you happy. Tattoos and art can be politically charged and meaningful, or just fun pieces that make you feel good. Both are equally valuable. There is so much weight and negativity in today’s current events. It can be daunting and draining, and my focus as an artist is to help people escape from the intensity of it all. We’re combated with so much imagery, so many ideas, and so much chaos. I love how tattoos can be a simple, ever-present reminder of your true self. You’re adorning the outside your body with beautiful images that reflect what you think and feel inside.
It’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world and make time to help create change, but it’s equally as important to take care of yourself and feel happy. That is when you can be the best version of yourself. I think my job as a tattoo artist is to help you express yourself, so you can feel good in every moment of every day. You are important just as you are, so let’s create some cute tattoos together to remind you of that.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I tattoo over at El Clasico Tattoo in Echo Park. It’s the first professionally owned tattoo shop in Echo Park and has been here for ten years. We’re an old-school, walk-in studio so come on by and browse our books! I personally love to set-up appointments, so we have plenty of time to collaborate, but, if you’re feeling spontaneous, stop in! We can create an awesome piece the same day. Say hi on Instagram too! I’m @melissamartellart. If you have any fun ideas, DM me! I’m excited to create some fun new designs in the coming months.
- Address: El Clasico Tattoo
1610 Sunset Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90026
- Website: melissamartell.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/melissamartellart