How One Local Artist is Transforming the Tattoo Industry
Eryn Rowe stands out from the tattooing crowd by being an independent artist working out of her own, private studio located in Tampa. Rowe’s studio is on the second floor of a tiny house. The calming scent of incense, the overflowing, lush plants and the intricate drawings hung on the walls characterize her sanctuary. The room is small but cozy with music playing faintly in the background. The vibes are healing.
Honing her craft from childhood, Rowe has been drawing since she could pick up crayons. She realized she wanted to pursue tattooing at 10-years-old after watching Miami Ink.
“I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that you could put your art on people’s bodies and it would just stay there forever,” said Rowe.
Rowe continued to draw and refine her skills until she began tattooing at age 18 for a small, local tattoo shop. That was five years ago.
“Having those experiences at… not the best shops, you know, you learn pretty quickly how many things can go wrong in a studio working with other people,” said Rowe. “A big part of it was the environment. [I wanted] my clients to be comfortable and have a space that makes people feel welcome. I like one-on-one sessions a lot, it makes people feel special when I’m not rushing and am taking my time.”
Rowe explained this as she tattooed a black staircase onto a customer’s arm. The customer, who found the artist through Instagram, raved about her experience at Rowe’s studio.
“Other places where I got tattoos, the environment was not welcoming,” said the customer. “It was male-dominated and uncomfortable. I felt awkward. Here, I feel like I’m in my room, like I could fall asleep, I feel so calm and just really happy with this experience.”
Rowe said Instagram and consistently tattooing has helped her grow her clientele and maintain her business.
“I grew up here and have more of a network of people that know me,” said Rowe. “When I was doing tattoos that weren’t the best, people were still following me. That network blossomed and got bigger, and that’s what helped me open this studio.”
It’s also no secret that the tattooing industry is dominated by men.
“It (being a woman) is a factor, for sure,” said Rowe. “Especially in the beginning when you’re first starting to tattoo, you don’t have experience, so people don’t take you seriously. And then on top of that, if you’re a female, they really don’t take you seriously. But now that the industry is changing, people are seeking out female artists because we’re rad.”
After working in various shops, Rowe knew what she wanted to change about the customer’s tattoo experience.
“On my paperwork, I have a section that asks for pronouns. I’ve never seen that at any shop anywhere. It’s a small thing but it’s important. It’s 50 percent art and 50 percent the client being comfortable. You know, it doesn’t matter if you get a really good tattoo. I know people who have really nice work but a bad story attached to it and a bad feeling around this permanent piece on their body.”
It’s clear Rowe is not only passionate about art, but genuinely cares about improving the lives of others and making her customers feel good. Rowe also shared the most fulfilling and motivating part of her job.
“As long as my clients are really happy and super stoked about their tattoo, that is one of the best feelings,” said Rowe. “When I do a tattoo on someone that was self-conscious and you see a little more confidence [in them], not that anyone needs a tattoo to feel amazing, but if I can contribute to someone feeling amazing, that’s pretty cool.”
Rowe shined light on several issues in the tattooing industry that are often swept under the rug. The issue of customers having to lay, often with some clothing removed, in an open room full of strangers; the lack of care and consideration between artists and clients; and the overall disregard for detail and thought put into the design and environment of the studio.
Tattoos are generally thought of as a sacrifice of suffering followed by a lifetime of having something on your body, but why suffer at all? Why not relax and enjoy the entire process? Eryn Rowe’s studio and others like it might just pave the way to revolutionizing the concept of getting a tattoo. Contact Eryn or view her work on Instagram, @eryn_rowe_art.