Teresa Sharpe, Best Ink Winner Season 2
In this week’s Artist Spotlight we caught up with Teresa Sharpe, Best Ink winner season 2. Teresa is a talented artist who works out of Studio 13 Tattoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Teresa went to the Millikin University in Decatur Illinois for art and graduated with a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in 2007. Shortly after this she went on to find an apprenticeship to become a tattoo artist.
We caught up with Teresa between tattoo appointments for a phone interview. This is what Teresa had to say:
AnoTat2: How long have you been tattooing for?
Teresa: I started tattooing full time in 2009. I did a short apprenticeship in 2008 at Studio 13 Tattoo.
AnoTat2: So you did your apprenticeship at Studio 13 Tattoo, this is the same studio you currently work for?
Teresa: Yes (laughing)
AnoTat2: Are you a co-owner at Studio 13?
Teresa: No, I am just an artist there. It is the first shop I have worked and I owe where I am today on these guys.
AnoTat2: Who did you work under while doing your apprenticeship?
Teresa: Well, the whole shop really. At the time, Ryan Hadley was there for about 5 months, so I learned a little from him but then the rest of the shop kind of took over from there. I would say I learned a lot of stuff from the guys I was getting tattooed. Mostly Jeff Ensminger in Austin TX, he was a huge influence on me and he helped guide me in the right process on how to put together a tattoo and execute it.
AnoTat2: Let’s talk a little about your time on the TV series, Best Ink Season 2. How did you get selected to participate on the show?
Teresa: Actually they contacted Durb at Red Tree Tattoo and had asked him for some leads on people he thought would be good for the show, in this case, females as they try to get a good balance of contestants. So he ended up recommending me and the producers contacted me for the show. I figured since they called me and Durb recommended me I might as well give it a shot. I never really wanted to do a TV show before they asked. I had mixed feelings about doing the show and my good friend Kelly Doty said to go for it, you never know. So I took it as an opportunity to represent tattooing in a positive way and not buy into all the drama.
Teresa: Yeah, it’s hard as they (producers) want the drama and they want you to fight but you just can’t buy into it. You have to keep yourself above that and remember why you are there to give the best tattoos you can do.
AnoTat2: During the season it seemed that you and DJ Tambe became good friends; did you know DJ prior to the filming of the show?
Teresa: We became friends over the course of the taping. I did not hear about him before I met him for the show which surprised me as he is a very solid tattooer. He is an amazing artist. We both just wanted to do the best tattoos that we could and stay away from the drama. You could tell from the very first tattoo DJ did he was going to go far.
AnoTat2: Since winning Best Ink you had a feature article in Tattoo Magazine which has helped get your name out more in the public, have you seen an increase with the people who want to get tattooed by you?
Teresa: Definitely. I got a lot of email after the show and I see an influx in email when the show airs on TV. It puts your name out there for sure and it’s cool. It has allowed me a chance to tattoo people who want to get a bigger tattoo in my style. I get requests for some simpler tattoos like a name or cancer ribbon and to be honest with you, the guys in the shop or down the block could do the same job on them as me. I guess there is a lot of people who just want to get tattooed by someone who was on TV. So I usually direct them in that direction. I love the clients who give me some freedom on the tattoo from creating it to placement, so it has let me do some fun projects.
Teresa: I do attend several throughout the year as well as guest spots at different studios. I also go overseas to attend the Evian Tattoo Show in France.
AnoTat2: What is your favorite convention to attend or work?
Teresa: Hell City is a fun one whether you go to Phoenix or the one in Columbus. They are both run very well. I just did TattooLaPalooza in Miami and they did a great job turning that show into a well run convention. I think that’s due to the team at Into The Woods. You know Frank La Natra and his team did a great job. My favorite overseas show has been the Evian Tattoo Show in France. It is also well-organized show with a ton of people that come through there, so if you are trying to make a name for yourself overseas it is a great place to get started.
Teresa: The Tattoo Magazine was cool, it was fun being on the cover but I have to say I enjoyed the article Skin Deep did on me recently. I can’t really say there is a favorite one. I am just very appreciated that I get to do them. I had a lot of fun doing the Ink Fashion Annual edition which is not really about tattooing at all. It is more about clothes I like to wear. (Laughing) It was just fun showing people what I am up to and the work I am doing. It was very humbling to be part of all these magazines; when you’re starting out you never think you are going to get there (in the magazines) and you put a lot of time in and you get that very first interview it is mind blowing. It is also very fun for my clients to see their tattoo in the magazine I did for them. I never tell them I submitted so it’s a nice surprise for them.
Teresa: Oh God, I don’t know. I never kept track at all. Sometimes people would just come to the shop to have me sign it for them and of course all the ones I got sent to me in the mail. In fact, I think I might still have some I need to mail back to people as they still keep coming in.
AnoTat2: I think it was great that you took the time out to sign all these magazines for your fans.
Teresa: If you are going to sign up and do a TV show and you are going to put yourself out there like that, you have to be willing to sign the magazines and take the photos. You have to take the time for them. They spent their time watching the shows, supporting you and may very well be booking an appointment to be tattooed by you. Plus I have gotten emails or social media posts from younger people saying that I have inspired them in their artwork – they even tag me on it. I always encourage them to keep going as it does not matter where the encouragement comes from as long as they get it. I had a lot of people who inspired me that gave me the time of day when I was starting out, like Jeff. He always let me go through his sketches and go over stuff with me. He trusted me to take the knowledge and move on with.
Teresa: I always just call it illustration realism. It is definitely not hyper realism or photorealism. I don’t do a lot of pieces I have to trace off a photo reference and even know I have done it in the past it is something I don’t enjoy doing.
AnoTat2: Any style of tattooing you try to stay away from?
Teresa: Tribal. (Laughing) There are people who specialize in Tribal and it is funny because no one realizes that. People just think any tattoo artist can do a tribal sleeve. They know how it flows on the body and do it every day of their lives. There is a lot of black – you don’t want to have to go back and fill in any spots.
Teresa: I was 23 and got my whole back done.
AnoTat2: So you took the saying, Go Big or Go Home to heart.
Teresa: I spent about a year looking for an artist as I knew I wanted a tattoo. I had pretty high standards based on my college degree in art. I needed to find someone who not only was a great tattoo artist but someone who also was a good artist with paint. I don’t know why this was so important to me but I ended up narrowing it down to 3 artists. I emailed all of them but Jeff was the most interested in it and was excited about the idea. He was also willing to trade for the first session as I had all these paintings I did in college. When I told him I wanted a back piece he must have thought I was crazy at first. Most people don’t start out with a complete back piece for their first tattoo. I am sure he had some reservation if I would ever finish the tattoo.
AnoTat2: What do we expect to see from you in the future?
Teresa: Hopefully bigger projects. I really enjoy doing back pieces and sleeves or half sleeves. I like a number of details I can put into a larger piece and the placement. I like working on a larger scale even with my paintings. I feel restricted when I have to do a small piece. So for me larger tattoos so I can push the envelope.
Teresa: Detroit, Hell City, Hawaii, Toronto, and Seattle – these are the shows booked so far.
AnoTat2: We had heard something about a friendly rivalry with the Into the Woods artists?
Expect big things from Teresa as she continues to put out great tattoos and pushes Team Unkindness to the win.
~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴