One of the side effects of constantly testing out different tattoo ideas with inkbox, is that you might decide you actually want to get one for real. We're big fans of all things body art and self-expression, so back in March we opened up our real tattoo studio at inkbox HQ. Since then, we've had couple of artists such as Yi Stropky guest-spot in the space, but we're thrilled to be welcoming our first resident tattoo artist to them team.
Elysse Marcus is a self-taught handpoke tattoo artist who specializes in precise linework and minimal contemporary designs. Recently moving to Toronto from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she's now tattooing out of the inkbox studio - and yes, some of us on the inkbox team have taken full advantage! Scrolling through her feed on Insta, her themes range from cute cacti, sassy slogans, and maybe some wine, cheese and baguettes. She's recently started tattooing duplicates of the same design on different body parts, for example a curly squiggle on an ankle and its duplicate on the wrist. Not limiting her work to the permanent stuff, she's also recently created a couple of semi-permanent tattoos on our Artist Marketplace.
Get to know our resident artist below to hear more about her art, misconceptions about handpoke tattoos, and her tips for tattoo first-timers.
How would you describe your art?
I try to experiment with different styles and techniques, so I feel like my work is always changing. However, people often tell me that I have a recognizable style, so someone else could probably describe it better! I think the main keywords right now would be minimal, sensitive, contemporary.
When did you first consider yourself an artist?
That’s an impossible question for me to answer. My mom is a visual artist and her mom was a visual artist so I can’t remember a time before art and making art was a part of my identity. But I don’t believe in discerning “artists” from “non-artists”. I think all humans have an innate need to be creative, and it will always manifest whether you recognize it or not.
What was the first form of media that you loved expressing you art through?
I have always loved drawing! I appreciate the brevity of drawing on paper because there’s less opportunity for the ego to get involved and I’m not as likely to overthink things. Tattooing is a bit different, it requires more care and patience, so for me it has becomes less about evading the ego and more of an exercise in embracing and finding peace with it.
How has your art developed over time?
As a kid I loved representational drawing because it’s the most accessible when you’re young, then as an adult I moved into more abstract and expressive work. Tattooing initially steered me back toward a more controlled approach, but now I’m trying to strike a balance somewhere between experimental and refined.
How did you get into tattoos?
I saw my classmates giving themselves stick and pokes when I was in art school. I had an immediate gut feeling that it was something I would be good at, so I started teaching myself and the rest is history! I never planned to do tattooing, but I’m happy it found me.
Biggest misconception about handpoke tattoo?
The biggest misconception about handpoke tattooing is that they hurt more (this always depends on the artist and the piece but generally handpoking is less painful than machine tattooing) and that they aren’t permanent!
Favorite tattoo you’ve ever given?
I don’t have one! Some of my earliest work is really special to me because it’s been around the longest. It’s hard for me to look at sometimes because I can see what I would do differently now, but that’s proof of how much I’ve learned since I started tattooing. And when I can tell that the client still loves it, that means everything to me!
Favorite tattoo you’ve ever received?
My favorite tattoo is a spotted hyena done by my friend Laura Lesser (@lauralesser) at Unikat in Berlin. She’s amazing, and we were both really excited about it which made it special. If you can pick a design that your artist loves as much as you do, you’re always going to end up with an awesome tattoo!
If you could tattoo anyone in the world - who would it be?
I want to say Taylor Swift but I KNOW I’d be too nervous to tattoo her :(
If you could tattoo anywhere in the world - where would it be?
My current dream is to work in Australia and New Zealand! They have such a prominent tattoo culture with a unique dynamic of history and influences. And the artists there are so skilled!
Why do you think some people want to test out their tattoos before getting them?
It’s a totally different experience seeing a design on paper or on a screen compared to on a three-dimensional, moving, living body. Especially if you’re new to tattoos, you can’t really understand how an image will look on skin until you try it!
One tip for tattoo for first-timers?
Do research and be patient! Great tattoos are worth waiting for, saving up for, and/or travelling for. And follow your aftercare instructions!