by Hogan Short
With Nina Chwelos of Sticks and Stones
Beatroute: HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN TATTOOING?
Nina Chewlos: I was 16 when I did my first stick ‘n poke, so if we’re counting that, six years. But professionally, I’ve been tattooing for two years.
BR: WHY DID YOU START TATTOOING?
NC: I always wanted to be heavily tattooed and I always drew. I couldn’t afford to get tattooed, and when I could, I didn’t have very positive experiences as a young woman getting tattooed, so I bought my first kit when I was 18. I tattooed my legs and my arms and my friends out of my house.
BR: HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN YOUR TATTOOING STYLE, AND WHY DOES THAT STYLE ATTRACT YOU?
NC: My tattooing style is primarily fine line black and grey, however, I find my style is always changing. I think I’ll always stick to single needle and fine-line work as it is what comes naturally to me. I tattoo the way I illustrate and my practices inform each other, so my process is largely just tattooing and drawing the same way.
BR: HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CULTURE OF TATTOOING IN VANCOUVER?
NC: I think we have a wonderfully diverse and amazing tattoo community in Vancouver. Although it may not be very connected, clients in Vancouver have a wide range of very talented artists to choose from.
BR: CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT OTHER PROJECTS OF YOURS?
NC: I’m in full time design and illustration school at Capilano University, so starting to learn inDesign in September spawned my desire to start a magazine. SCRATCH on issuu.com is an annual print publication that acts as a platform for self-taught (and otherwise) artists to showcase their work, with a focus on queer and marginalized artists.
BR: IF YOU COULD GET TATTOOED BY ANYBODY IN THE WORLD, WHO WOULD IT BE?
NC: Tamara Santibanez is an idol in the queer tattoo community living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She’s ridiculously talented, steadfast, and deserves all the acclaim and respect she has received. I think what makes her so fascinating to me is her wonderful fine art practices that break down cultural barriers and explore her identity.