Working as a professional tattoo artist for 5 years now, Chrissy Hills has successfully established herself in the industry. Based at Inklination in Gosport, U.K., Chrissy has a strong portfolio filled with Neo-Traditional designs, depicting jeweled animals with robust colour and cartoonish outlines. We were immediately struck by Chrissy’s artistic talent, and so we decided to reach out to her for an interview.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a tattoo artist?
My ambition from the beginning was always to draw pretty pictures for a living, regardless of the medium. Creating artwork is my favourite thing about the job. I get huge satisfaction from seeing ideas come to life! And, as it turns out, tattooing is my absolute favourite medium to work in.
Q: What are challenges that you’ve encountered as a woman in the tattoo industry?
I used to work in a very male-dominated shop, and this came with a whole host of challenges. People would frequently assume that I was the shop receptionist. I have had clients refuse to be tattooed by me and opt for male coworkers, without even looking at examples of my work. As is the case in many industries, I feel like often I have had to work twice as hard to prove myself [than] a male in my position.
I think the worst, and most career-specific, problem that I’ve encountered is a strange sexualisation of a female tattooist, and females with tattoos in general. I have spoken with potential male clients who seem pleased to inform me that it is their ‘fetish’ to be tattooed by a woman, for example. I wasn’t so pleased to hear it.
Right now, I am working in a shop wholly staffed by females, which gives me a real insight into both sides of the coin, and I find that, even with a strong female presence around, there are still inappropriate comments made. One sticks out in my mind: because a customer wasn’t happy with abiding by our booking processes, he informed us that he would go to another studio, and that there were ‘much fitter birds in there anyway’. I really fail to see the relevance of his comment to be honest!
Q: What are your strengths as a tattoo artist?
I’m very hungry to get better all the time. It’s a blessing and a curse, as I’m constantly picking holes in my work, but I would so much rather be self-critical than complacent. And it gives me motivation, as there will always be a goal to work towards; every artist can always improve!
Q: What’s your funniest experience tattooing a client?
I have a lot of laughs with many of my clients, since I find that most of them are very like-minded! Everyone in the studio has a riot together as well; we laugh all the time so it’s hard to pin down a single moment!
Chrissy has made a lot of headway in her career, and even though she’s faced difficult challenges, she still forges ahead with a strong sense of optimism. While she realizes the injustices and toxic attitudes in some corners of the industry, she has found a place that suits her well, and she hasn’t let these distractions get in the way of her main passion.
See more of Chrissy’s work on Instagram at @epicterror