We are glad to introduce you an amazing vegan tattoo artist from Los Angeles - Marlaina Mortati! Marlaina shared with us her career path, what's inspiring her and some advices.
"For me, one of my main focus is wanting to highlight animal issues whether it’s a portrait of a happy rescued cow or animal liberation inspired designs. I want to be a go to artist for understanding and conveying these issues through art and tattoos."
How did you come up with the idea of becoming a tattoo artist?
I had always wanted to make art as a career I just hadn’t figured out how to do it yet. Until I got my first tattoo, I was in my early 20s and fell in love. I never thought I’d be a good enough artist to tattoo before then so I worked really hard on my artwork and found an apprenticeship soon after deciding this would be my career path.
Do you remember the first tattoo you've made?
Of course! I see them all the time haha. My first black and grey pieces are on my partner Sarah, she has a pair of ravens on her wrists and my first color piece is on my sister, Marissa, she has a little pig design on her hip. I've tattooed both of them several times since then. The first time I tattooed human skin was on a man who had star outlines tattooed all over his body volunteered to let me practice tattooing by filling in his stars with color. My mentor had me tattoo on rubber practice pads before then. It’s somewhat common for apprentices to tattoo on pig skin which was obviously a no go for me and my mentor totally supported my decision to not go that route. He said it was stupid anyways. I had a really non-traditional apprenticeship based on mutual respect and it was truly a student teacher relationship and I worked in the shop to earn my education.
Animals and nature, other artists and tattoo artists. I’m constantly glued to my instagram to see all the fresh new tattoos they’ve done that day. I’m always awe inspired. For me, one of my main focus is wanting to highlight animal issues whether it’s a portrait of a happy rescued cow or animal liberation inspired designs. I want to be a go to artist for understanding and conveying these issues through art and tattoos. I want to do vegan and activist themed tattoos as much as possible not just vegan applied tattoos. Though I’ll never turn down a cool tattoo idea no matter the subject.
What styles and techniques are you working with?
I do a bit of everything, though I feel like I’m mostly an illustrative artist who works with lots of saturated color. I enjoy doing black and grey pieces and have a lot of fun doing whip shaded black work sometimes. It’s nice not spending that extra time rinsing ink out of my needles every time I need to change colors. I’m still learning new techniques every day and finding different ways to utilize those techniques. I’m very lucky to work in a shop with a lot of other diverse and experienced artists who aren’t afraid to teach and share their knowledge.
Could you give an advice for those artists who want to make a switch to vegan-friendly tattooing?
It’s about more than vegan ink. That’s just the beginning and the easy part, ointments, aftercare, razors are some things that are often overlooked. Especially razors, these are usually hard to find for vegan tattoo artists because they can be expensive but worth it to know that product wasn’t tested on animals or that the moisturizer strips often contain animal by-products. I also try to think about how much waste I create with each tattoo. Some things there are no way around as your can’t re use things like plastic ink caps and rinse cups but my grips come in packaging that doubles as rinse cups and I like that I can use it for more that one thing before I have to throw it out.