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A couple of months ago, my coworker and good friend told me she was getting a tattoo after work. She came back the next day with what could only be described as an absolute work of art. And yes, I know all tattoos are technically art. But, this one was different.
It was so intricate, well-done, and detailed. It was quite literally the dream image she had described the day before, come to life. She couldn’t stop gushing about how nice, accommodating, and willing to listen her tattoo artist was.
I also noticed she had a new T-shirt.
“Art Heals,” it said on the front.
“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, my tattoo artist founded a non-profit to raise money for mastectomy tattoos.”
Okay, put the brakes on. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s almost Women Wednesday…
Who was this tattoo artist and how can I talk to her?!
I’m so excited to be able to introduce:
I went out on a limb and asked her if she’d be willing to be our featured WW this week. It was so clear from the first email conversation that Amy was all the things my coworker described and more.
She’s in her busiest season. She’s been recognized by countless media outlets; including news, magazines, and even a few TEDtalks. (Check out her impressive list here.)
But, despite all this, she still took the time out of her crazy, hectic, booked schedule to answer my email.
I am so thankful, and so excited to share this WW with you all.
After graduating high school (at 16, nonetheless), Amy attended the Columbus College of Art and Design, a private art school in Columbus, Ohio.
It was during this time she received her first tattoo, and I guess you could say the rest is history!
She moved to Richmond, Virginia shortly after college (shoutout to my city) and completed her tattoo apprenticeship.
After a while, she took ownership of the shop she worked for, deeming it “Amy Black Tattoos.” The shop has been going strong ever since.
She enjoys all sorts of tattoo styles that change often based on client demand. Everything from nature to classical art tattoos have been created within the walls of her shop. It was clear from my coworker’s review and her reviews online from others, that Amy’s attention to her client’s vision was unique. She’s extremely devoted to her work and art, working closely with her clients to take their tattoo from imagination to reality.
“Never stop learning. Don’t focus on the destination, focus on the present journey. Don’t be afraid to slow down and take care of yourself…”
She loves this quote from David Bowie’s wife, Iman:
When I asked Amy what her definition of success was, she said,
“There are many versions of it. I believe none should be seen as an endpoint.”
She then went on to say that success should be something that launches you towards continual learning, self-improvement, and to be of help to others as much as possible.
In fact, helping others is where she finds her confidence and passion.
In 2010, Amy started a new kind of tattoo art, mastectomy tattooing.
Mastectomies are performed on both men and women. Typically, the natural nipple and areola are removed to prevent the expansion of cancer tissue. The patient can sometimes elect to have these areas rebuilt via donor skin, but the coloring and texture are dissimilar to before.
Amy is talented enough to be able to tattoo the color AND texture back to these areas, making them look and feel more realistic. She also does work for transgender clients and clients with alopecia.
She’s so talented, in fact, that plastic surgeons refer post-op patients to her and clients visit her from all over the world.
Her breast cancer patients, along with their families and friends, constantly inspire her. Needless to say, she’s found a living doing what she loves: Healing with art.
Amy even started the Pink Ink Fund, a non-profit organization that seeks to financially aid people with their post-mastectomy tattoos, nipple, and/or areola repigmentation, as well as the travel and service fees associated with getting them. The Fund also works to provide education and outreach for patients and the medical community.
~You can donate or buy merch here!~
Buddhism, Gose-style beer, tattoos, happiness, learning new things, the mountains, emotional intelligence, & her Frenchie puppy.
It would be a crime to not include a picture of her…
And, if you weren’t already convinced about how amazing she is, here’s a video about her and her work:
My favorite thing she had to say?
“I’m a product of strangers showing compassion to another stranger. Don’t ever give up on being as positive and compassionate as you can be throughout your life, it can lead to wonderful things.”
or her website.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know about Amy and her amazing work as much as I did! Perhaps a new tattoo is in order for me…
Until next time,