Artist Lauren Violet on nature's beauty, women in the tattoo industry and dynamic art

Lauren Violet transforms her love of animals and nature into unique tattoos. Having grown up in Boulder, she takes inspiration from the landscapes that surround her. She has been tattooing for eight years, and currently works at Bound by Design. She is also a painter, and is starting a pet portrait business. Westword recently caught up with Violet to talk about finding beauty in nature, being a woman in the tattoo business and creating dynamic artwork.

See also: Sandi Calistro on opening a new shop, traveling and creating art on canvas and skin

Westword: Has art always been part of your life?

Lauren Violet: Yeah, I've been drawing my whole life. I was always interested in tattooing, but it's hard to get your foot in the door. So I didn't get started until pretty late.

What made you realize you wanted to be a tattoo artist?

It looked like tattoo artists were living the good life. They get to draw all day, they get to do whatever they want and live on their own terms, and that was attractive to me. And tattoos are cool.

Has your perception changed after getting into the business?

No, it's all pretty much true.

Your style of tattooing involves a lot of nature, and showing nature's beauty. What draws you to that imagery?

I'm an animal lover. Growing up in Boulder, I always appreciated the mountains, the trees, the rivers and that sort of thing.

Would you say your style is feminine?

I think a lot of tattoo artists love nature because it's beautiful. But yeah, I guess it's kind of a feminine thing that I focus on it. Also, everything I make tends toward the beautiful or cute, so that's pretty feminine.

You mentioned there are not that many female artists in the industry.

There's more than ever before, but not as many as male tattoo artists. They still dominate the industry, for sure.

Do you feel it gives you an advantage to stand out, or do you feel you have to work harder to keep up with male artists?

I think it gives me an advantage. And there's also people who want to get tattooed by a female because I guess maybe they think we're nicer or something. Some shops want to have at least one female artist, so that gives me an advantage as well. I have many customers who ask for a female artist.

Continue reading for the rest of the Q&A with artist Lauren Violet.

Is it ever difficult to establish a connection with customers, or does it come naturally with the process of tattooing?

I think it comes naturally, and I like talking to all different kinds of people. I like people more since I've been tattooing, which I'm surprised about. You would think I would like people less after dealing with so many people, but actually I like them more now. I like almost everybody that I talk to and tattoo.

Do you create other types of art?

I do animal paintings. I draw and paint a lot outside of work. I'm trying to get a pet portrait kind of thing going as a side business.

What are some differences between working on a canvas and on a person?

The human body is three-dimensional, so you have to take into consideration how it's going to look on the front, on the side, on the back, even if the back isn't the main part of the design. You still have to make it look cool, because if someone looks at the back of the person's arm, that's what they're going to see. And also people twist and move and things shift, and it has to look good from all angles. And from far away, you have to be able to tell what it is. You can't expect people to come up and look carefully and think real hard about it. You have to be able to immediately identify it, so it has to be more dynamic. A painting can be abstract or more free-form, and some parts can be left kind of unfinished. That is not something you can do with a tattoo. It has to all be very deliberate and dynamic.

Do you have a lot of tattoos yourself?

I do. I still have plenty of blank space, too, though.

Does getting tattoos help you realize what you're inflicting on the customer?

Definitely. Actually, if someone is in a lot of pain getting a tattoo on a specific body part, it makes me want to go and get that tattooed so I can see how it feels, because I think, "Is it really that bad?" It makes me curious.

You mentioned you've lived all over the country; what are some examples?

Portland, Oregon; Upstate New York, in the woods; Houston, Texas. I tried to live in Italy, failed and came home. I was there for a few months.

What draws you back here?

I've moved away and come back, I think, five times. I guess this is just my true home.

For more information, visit Violet's profile on the Bound by Design website.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nathalia Vélez
Contact: Nathalia Vélez