TPM Interviews Los
Angeles Tattoo Artist
Mama - Emily Kay
The Dynamics of Family Life as a Mother Working in a Male Dominated Creative Industry
What city and state do you live in? Los Angeles, CA
What tattoo shop do you work in? Strangelove LA
Tell us a little bit about your family background. I'm a Chinese American born in Hong Kong, grown up in LA.
When did you start your career as a tattoo artist? I began tattooing four years ago.
Tell us why you first became interested in tattoos. What got you started along that path? My interest in creating art and experimenting with mediums led to a natural fascination with the craft. I was studying product design in college when I turned 18, and really began to spend more time in a tattoo shop. I ended up dropping out of school to pursue working in a shop.
How would you describe your tattoo style? Illustrative, influenced by old scientific and botanical illustrations. I tattoo a lot of animals and plants, natural elements.
How many tattoos do you have? I stopped counting!
Who or what inspires or influences your creativity? Anything and everything, a lot of inspiration comes from my clients' ideas that I can then expand on.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not tattooing people? Family time, horseback riding, painting.
Who is your favorite artist of all time? That’s a difficult one to answer - I don’t know if I really idolize just one artist.
What has been your favorite moment in your career, so far? Working alongside a lot of really really talented and fun artists has been the best.
What is your favorite part of being a tattoo artist? Besides it just being a great creative outlet, the flexibility and ability to create my own schedule is amazing for me as a mother.
What is your biggest struggle being a mom? The transition into becoming a mother was definitely one of the hardest things in the world, mentally and physically life changing. It’s taken a lot of patience and self forgiveness.
How old is your daughter? Almost 2
If you could describe your art in one word, what would it be? I don’t know this one!!
What's it like not only being a female in a primarily male dominated tattoo industry, but also a tattoo artist with a little one in tow? Are there instances where you are judged or not taken seriously as an artist? If so, describe your experience? Being a female in a male dominated industry has its ups and downs. I’ve found a lot of my clientele to value me being a woman of color and it’s nice to recognize that. On the other hand, usually tattoo shops are generally male dominated spaces that can be less welcoming. I’m lucky and grateful that our studio doesn’t attribute to that type of environment.
What advice would you give to other women or mother's like yourself who want to break into the tattoo industry? Work hard as fuck and it will come.
What is your life motto? If fear is the only thing stopping you, you should probably do it.
How can people get a hold of you to get some work done? Email is best! Emmbuns@gmail.com