Kel Tait wanted to be a tattoo artist for many years prior to starting her first internship. In 2002, she took her first apprenticeship in the UK. Despite tattooing being what she loved, she had to leave a year into her apprenticeship. In her heart, she knew it wasn’t the right time.
During her time away, she made some difficult decisions and had life-altering journeys. In 2012, Kel returned to tattooing with a new perspective. Her experience over the past decade has shaped her as a person and an artist for the better. Perhaps this is why her pieces are so easily recognized with or without a watermark.
It was the tenor of Kel’s artwork that caught our eye. It seems as if she takes the subject (frequently animals) and it almost looks neotraditional in style, but she fuses it with watercolors that bleed in the background… And sometimes it’s not so much a neotraditional image as it is a dots and lines style. She truly breaks the mold with her work.
While her tattoos have characteristics of watercolor, she finds that description limiting and so do we. She says, “my works have a semblance of realism to them I guess also. I think what I’m doing is constantly evolving depending on my experiences in life. The only constant in my work is a strong nature-based influence. Yep, I’m a ‘nature artist’ ha ha— let’s make it a new term!”
Kel paints everything before she tattoos it. She admits, “I’m a bit of a nervous person so this extra time I take makes me more comfortable with the process.” And when she’s not painting and tattooing, she loves to be outside. She collects things like feathers, skeleton leaves, bones, acorns, and pine cones. Now that she’s moved back to the beach she says, “I’m coming home with all kinds of things!”
What advice do you have for someone planning his or her first tattoo?
“I see so many people having these small ‘test’ tattoos to make sure they can cope with the pain. Ultimately these aren’t things they really want, and we see them again a year down the line when they want them covered up. Make sure it’s something you really want! Not something you found on Pinterest.
Also: DO YOUR RESEARCH! There are literally thousands of mind blowing artists out there now so you have zero excuse for that bad tattoo you just had done. I can’t even begin to tell you how many horrific things I’ve seen! People don’t realize anyone can set up a studio – there are no regulations governing who can and can’t tattoo you in most countries. The authorities only care that the studios are following the health and safety regulations…. and not that the artists skill level is on par with that of your five year old cousin.”
What advice do you have for a tattoo artist who is just getting started?
“Work your ass off – and by this I mean, draw every day! I still draw EVERY day. [Even though] I don’t remember when I last had more than a few hours off work, nevermind a whole day. Be a sponge – soak up everything around you – there’s always something new to learn. Always. But something that people don’t talk about much is the toll tattooing takes on your body. Most of us are pretty messed up! Go to yoga, build up your core strength. I’ve had two slipped discs from work last year and I’m only 33. So it’s important to look after your body – it’s your main tool.”
Contact Kel Tait
Her preferred method of contact for scheduling appointments is email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Travel Dates
✈ Barecelona, Spain: April 7 – May 5
✈ Marseille, France: May 10 – 14
✈ Lyon, France: May 16 – 21
✈ Berlin, Germany: June 2 – 7
✈ USA: June – December (follow on Facebook/Instagram for dates and locations TBA)
More tattoos by Kel Tait
Images © Kel Tait