Claire Reid of Ajna Tattoo, Australia
Our Artist Spotlight is with Claire Reid of Ajna Tattoo. In keeping with our promise of bringing more international artists to everyone, Claire’s studio is located in New South Wales, Australia. The studio’s name may sound familiar to you and it should, we interviewed another talented artist from their last year – Jacob Gwynn. Claire’s artwork in the style of color realism is simply breathtaking. We caught up with Claire as she traveled doing guest spots here in the states.
We know you have been tattooing for a decade; how did you get into tattooing?
Yes, I started tattooing in 2005 just after I finished my studies at the University. I was piercing at the time and really wanted to learn how to tattoo but my boss didn’t think that my art was good enough. One of the other tattoo artists had seen my sketchbook where I was doodling characters in ball point pen and he thought that I had a style. So he convinced my boss into letting me be an apprentice, there was one catch; if I couldn’t learn to tattoo in six weeks I had to go back to piercing.
For the following six weeks I worked my arse off, I had a great teacher Dale Orton who taught me everything from how to make needles and build the tattoo set up from scratch to having my own style and only tattooing custom drawn designs.
When Dale emigrated to Canada soon after I was hungry to learn more so I moved around the UK for a while tattooing in different studios whilst meanwhile following the incredible tattoos coming out of the States. In 2006 I was over the moon to receive an offer to study with the incredible oil painter and tattoo artist Paolo Acuna from Phoenix, Arizona. Upon arrival I was blown away by the studio, it was like a temple, full of marble statues, oil paintings and murals. I learned most of what I know from Paolo and I’m eternally grateful for what he has given me, he opened the door to me having the opportunity to study with all of the pioneers of that time including Jeff Gogue, Joshua Carlton, Mike Devries, Carson Hill, Roman and many more.
Since the day I began tattooing I have become completely obsessed with it and am on a constant quest to expand and evolve my art.
Your art goes beyond tattooing into oil painting and photography; do you incorporate these other techniques into tattooing?
I am also an oil painter by trade, I paint a lot and have so many pieces of art around the world from the places I visit. I also love photography as my Dad and Grandad are keen photographers and have taught me a lot. When I create art I am looking to express myself through the medium, I like to paint from my dreams and visions and I like to photograph things that I see in rocks, trees and so forth. These mediums have great influence on my tattooing as I learnt about colour, composition, perspective, texture and so forth along the way. I find that if I spend a week painting and then go to do a tattoo my tattooing has also improved.
Tattooing has given you the opportunity to travel the world; what are some of your favorite places to travel?
I have travelled all over the world and what this has given me is a love for humanity and nature. Everywhere I go I meet the most amazing people and gain insight into their lives. I love to learn about new languages, different cultures and the environment people live in. My favourite places are those with a tribal aspect, I love Borneo, Peru, Arnhem Land and New Zealand as I got a real insight into tribal life in these places. I would love to travel more through Africa, India and Native American territories.
You have an impressive tattoo portfolio, ranging in multiple styles. Which style is your favorite?
I love to tattoo anything out there, I love aliens, mythology, psychedelic imagery, anything that expands the mind. I love tattooing because I get to work so closely with people and I feel like my pieces are a collaboration of our efforts put together. All of the tattoos that I have done have come from someone wanting to express their individuality on their skin, I love that tattoos are the window to the soul.
Your tattoo portfolio is very impressive; besides realism what other styles do you enjoy tattooing?
For a long time I thought I was a realism artist but lately I have been thinking a lot about my art and what I really am. I am taking a leap of faith at present and I have started to paint these beings or creatures as such that I have been doodling for a long time. I suppose since I started tattooing I have been painting from my inner self but using reference that I have found to depict the images, whereas now I am on a journey to paint what I see without exterior reference and trust in my own intuition. Technically this is quite frustrating at the moment because I am trying to find my flow in how to paint the beings but I’m sure this will come in the near future.
My objective is to be as true to myself as possible and keep delving deeper into my own style.
If you could be tattooed by any artist who would it be and what would you get?
I have been saving my left sleeve for a long time, I decided years ago that I would wait as I saw the tattoo industry go through a kind of Renaissance and I wanted to make sure I had space for a nice piece. I love Matt Jordan’s work, I tattoo with him in Auckland and he is such a beautiful guy! I would love something magical connected with the Stars but I’m not sure about the imagery yet. I find that my tattoos come at the right time and they depend on my life experience, it’s almost as though I have to go through different stages of my life before I can get the tattoos.
Do you attend any tattoo shows or conventions? If so which are you planning to attend?
In the past I attended so many tattoo conventions, once I did 13 in one year. Now I attend about 5 a year, I did Hamilton New Zealand in February, then Sydney in March, I will do the London tattoo convention in September, Barcelona in October, New Plymouth tattoo convention in November and maybe Melbourne if I am in Australia at that time. I always make a lot of good connections at the conventions and get to see how different artists are pushing the boundaries.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
The next twelve months will be very interesting for me, I am doing something I have never done before and looking to expand my ability in painting from the subconscious. It isn’t that easy to do when there is nowhere to find that but in myself.
My new clothing range has just come out under redbubble.com, I will be releasing new clothing, phone and laptop accessories, stickers, home wear and much more over the next 12 months.
I have also started to learn about film and have been working on a few projects alongside musician Kevin Mark Trail. I love to work with Kevin as he is a constant flow of ideas and inspiration, he thinks of things in a way that no one else does and he is more of a perfectionist than myself so this pushes me to remain on this level.
I’m still striving to improve my technique in tattooing and painting alongside my other projects and I’m excited about some new tattoo and painting projects I will be working on.
Best way for someone to book an appointment with you?
If anyone would like to get tattooed by me please email me at [email protected], I sometimes take a few weeks to reply so don’t worry if you don’t hear back straight away.
Make sure to follow Claire Reid at:~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴