Name: Chelsea Rhea
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
What attracted you to tattooing?
I was fresh out of art school with a painting degree and selling cosmetics at the mall to pay for tattoos. I saw an opportunity to do something creative on a daily basis. In those days tattooing seemed like a certain kind of freedom.
How did you get into the industry?
By the good grace of Nick Stegall, an incredible artist, who became an even better friend. He took my apprenticeship seriously and taught me well. Not many tattooers can speak so highly of their start, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Was it hard to find an apprenticeship?
I think it's a matter of finding a GOOD apprenticeship. I'll admit I wasn't one of those kids with a do or die attitude toward tattooing. If it was worth doing, it was worth doing WELL. Even then I knew a proper apprenticeship was key.
How many years have you been tattooing?
What inspires you?
Mythology, the persistence of symbolism, the esoteric arts...we, as a species, have managed to tattoo our bodies for a variety of reasons, for as long as we've walked on this earth. There's something humbling about contributing to that tradition, both as an artist and as a client. Something feels sacred about that.
Who are your favorite tattoo artists?
Oh there are too many to name . I was fortunate to be in the presence of so many great artists from day one. There's so much talent out there, it's impossible to not be motivated and challenged on a daily basis.
How would you describe your tattoo style?
In the beginning I think it's important to explore the medium. I'm only just starting to develop a style and I'm curious to see how it evolves over the years. I want to make tattoos that age well, that respect the fundamentals of traditional tattooing, but I am a sucker for detail, multiple line weights, and a sophisticated color palette.
What have you learned in your years in the industry?
You have to be hungry. You're only going to get out as much as you're willing to put in.
What advice do you have to people considering careers in the industry?
No matter how much you presume to know, it is not what you think it is. Tattooing is a privilege and it sure as hell ain't easy.
What are some of the best things you have experienced as a result of your career?
Independence, the fulfillment of honing a craft. And I'm really looking forward to upcoming travel opportunities.
Where do you currently tattoo?
I own Amulet Tattoos in Saint Petersburg, Florida.