Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Grant.
Emily, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started drawing basically as soon as I could hold a pencil. I literally don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t draw. My parents noticed this pretty early and picked up every instructional drawing book they came across and I ate them up. I remember being inspired by album covers, political cartoons, oil paintings…all of it.
When I was a teenager I started being interested in comic books and started drawing in a more illustrative style. By 19 I had lied my way into a graphic artist position at a local newspaper and when my work was complete for the day I would work on spec ads, working in my designs and new logo ideas. Occasionally a client would accept one of my ads and this gave me the drive to get out on my own and be a freelance artist.
After the newspaper, I had a semi-successful stint as a freelance artist. A roommate of mine was a pro-skateboarder and this got me into parties and got me shaking hands with some of the higher-ups at companies like Rusty Apparel, and Thrasher Magazine. My designs were on skateboard decks, belt buckles, wallets, you name it. But as exciting as it was to walk into a store and find one of my designs on a wall or rack, the work was seasonal and I wasn’t the best at drumming up more work, or weeding out the people that saw a young woman and figured I would appreciate the “experience” over money.
Eventually, I made a friend who pushed me to give tattooing a shot, which led me to where I am today.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I started tattooing, it was basically right before the recession. I started my apprenticeship at a shop in Orange County where there was only like one or two other shops in town and moved to Hollywood where there were literally hundreds if not thousands of options for tattoo clients. Also, social media wasn’t really a thing yet. I think there might have been MySpace. I’m old. So promoting yourself meant going out, going to clubs, leaving a trail of business cards wherever you go.
But I wasn’t making money to go out or even make business cards. I relied on word of mouth. I gave discounts. I landed at a shop that had a great reputation in the tattoo community but the neighborhood where it was located was on the decline. The original owner had taken a chance by hiring a noob like me and everyone at the shop felt like family but eventually, I had to decide whether loyalty or being able to go grocery shopping was more important and after 11 years I moved on. It was a really tough decision.
Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about your work?
While I was still at the Hollywood shop I kept hearing about Studio City Tattoo. This friend’s friend went there and had a great experience, or so-and-so has been going there for years. So I went in one day and decided that I wasn’t going to let them forget about me until I had a job! I met Clay, the owner, and he instantly made me feel like I had clung to the right shop. I feel like as much as all of the artists are expected to work well as a team, we are also given room to shine as individuals.
I have found my niche at the shop as an illustrative tattoo artist. I love doing tattoos inspired by anything from Dore’s Bible illustrations to Mucha’s art nouveau to your favorite comic book artists. I love working with vibrant colors as much as I love creating a bold, graphic piece with no color at all. I feel that my lifelong love of art has given me the eye I need to help my clients create a tattoo that is visually exciting as well as being something that will look good on their bodies for years to come.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
So many people have supported me along the way but I would probably have to give most of the credit to the crew that apprenticed me at HB Tattoo. Miah Waska urged me to go for the job in the first place and once in the door Hek Valdez, Rob Nunez, Jasin O’blaney, and Dan McNab were probably my biggest cheerleaders. Besides teaching me how to tattoo they did their best to prepare me for working in this industry. They taught me how to deal with people who didn’t respect my time and they also taught me how to not take myself too seriously. They set the bar for the kind of artists I wanted to surround myself with and they keep me motivated to this day. Also, M Alder at Purple Panther Tattoo for giving me a job because she saw potential in me. She is a dear friend of mine to this day.
- Tattoo prices are based on time. I charge $180 per hour or $900 for 6 hours
- $200 for most enamel pins designed (per 100 sold)
- Address: 11032 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604
- Website: studiocitytattoo.com
- Phone: (818)769-4049
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: emilyannetattoo
Shot of me by Ana Herda