A: Lisa! I am a huge fan of this book and can’t wait to pick your brain on it. My first question has to be, were you worried to expose as much as you did in it?
L: Thank you, Alex! It’s funny you ask that. From the very minute I started to pen this memoir, I knew I’d tap into dark stories from the past many wanted swept under the carpet. I can’t explain it – I felt called to write it nonetheless. As you’ve read, I shed light on what needed it, and I called out the wrongdoers, like the negative individuals who posted on social media about their distaste for my craft. You know the saying about how people who witness evil but say nothing about it are just as bad as the evil ones themselves? I wanted to call it all out, from the very start of my crazy life.
A: Speaking of crazy life, it is truly remarkable what has transpired throughout your years! Do you ever sit back and acknowledge how insane it has been?
L: I sure do! I sometimes ask God, “what is it you have in store for me?” I mean you can’t make this stuff up! From a tragedy in my house when I was a child, to the staged protests at my Tattoo School, it’s been a wild and bumpy right. Luckily, I’m looking back at it from the other side now, and am able to reflect on what made me stronger, and what was just plain terrible.
A: Which brings me to Tattoo School. How did you come up with such a revolutionary business idea?
L: I’ve been a passionate artist my entire life. In my 20s and 30s, I hand-painted clothing and branded myself near and far to Albany. One day, I put on a fake tattoo for fun, and loved it so much that I marched over to Lark Street to have it permanently penned in me. While I was sitting in the seat and watching the artist flood my skin with beautiful shades of blue and green, I thought to myself, I can do this, and I can do this well. I went home, grabbed some grapefruits, and the rest was history.
Once I had mastered the art of tattooing, some friends of mine begged me to teach them. For a while I didn’t consider it until one night it hit me that I can teach this trade. Since tattoo artists usually don’t come about without years of apprenticeships, and I had managed to teach myself in my kitchen in a few short months, I knew the barrier to entry was steep and if I could pull off teaching the trade, I’d be in business. I successfully taught my first two students over a 6-month period how to tattoo, and a new business had officially blossomed.
A: How did it feel seeing yourself on TV?
L: Honestly, throughout the whole filming process, I was absolutely terrified. I had no idea how it would be framed, what angle the producers were going for, and what I was going to look like up on the big screen. Luckily, the team working with me was incredibly helpful, amiable, and a pleasure to work with. But, that still didn’t assuage all my fears. I am after all, a horse owner from Upstate New York.
What blew my mind was when I finally saw the finished project live on TV. My fears and apprehensions immediately turned into energized excitement. They did such a great job producing the show, and I felt they made me look incredibly professional and on top of my game. I get why actors and actresses stick in the business. But, when the TV show was never picked up after the pilot, it was a huge relief. The pressure to act appropriately and look good wore away on me after only a few days.
A: My last question is – are you still tattooing today?
L: You know, as much as I try to run from it, I still end up tattooing every so often. But, I am currently pursuing my original roots and working to brand myself as a painter. I paint a lot of animal murals, and I throw in my usual, bright-colored twist. Additionally, my daughter and I are in the process of growing a social media management company: SocialMe Media. So, as my book obviously showcases, I am busy as always! Tattooing got me to where I am today, and for that I am forever grateful.
Originally published at https://www.nfreads.com/article/an-afternoon-with-the-author-of-in-living-ink/