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Painted Ladies

October 19, 2012

While  some may be content to wear their heart on their sleeve, Tarita Aurora and fellow tattoo artist Nathalia Shelly, take this notion to the extreme, by imparting their passion on skin.

The work of Tarita Aurora

Upon meeting Nathalia Shelly and Tarita Aurora, their passion for ink is immediately apparent.  Both of the 20-something entrepreneurs are enveloped in lovely tattoos.  Tattoos tend to disclose what you value most, want to forever remember, or character traits you most admire.  It’s an art form with tribal associations that has been embraced by nonconformists the world over.  While it seems male tattoo artists have always been in business, female tattoo artists are surprisingly hard to come by.

Nathalia Shelly

Friends with benefits: Shelly giving Tarita a tattoo.

As such, Shelly (as she’s known) and Tarita are part of a group that includes only a handful of members.  Tarita explains, “Women in this business aren’t taken seriously yet.  It’s a male dominated industry.  Especially with personalities like Kat Von D in the spotlight, women are seen as a novelty,  and not as legitimate contributing members of the trade.”

Women like Shelly and Tarita are working hard to change this perception, and by all accounts they are making steady progress.  Shelly’s tattoo studio, Woody, just celebrated it’s one year anniversary.  This is no small feat considering there are 48 tattoo shops in Kemang alone.  The success of her studio lends credence to the notion that women are not a trend in the market, but an enduring asset to the field.

Tarita Aurora at work.

Tarita too has found continuous work as a freelance tattoo artist. Having worked in the industry for six and a half years, she still finds the work both exciting and rewarding.  Notes Tarita, “I had a sense that I wanted to be an artist when I was ten years old.  Over the years I would research tatoo art and when I turned 18 I got my first tattoo, an eight point star, on my back.”  Shelly adds, “I decided when I was 18 that this would be my path.  I loved tattoos since I was a kid and when I was 14 I got my first one.  Nowadays people are surprised and amazed when they see all my tattoos.  They are the best advertisement for my shop, and they start conversations with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met.”

Tattoo By Tarita Aurora

While each nurtures a unique style, (“Shelly’s work is bright and colorful, like she is, while mine is more grayscale with a restrained use of color,” observes Tarita) both find painting on skin to be a borderline sacred practice. Tarita explains, “Tattooing is a deep-seeded thing.  The energy behind it is ancient and spiritual.  It’s an artwork that you carry with you, theoretically, until you die.”

Tattoo Jakarta

Painting with needles may be a skill few have the talent or nerve to pursue, but for women like Shelly and Tarita, the urge to leave their indelible mark runs more than skin deep.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    April 19, 2014 5:23 am

    Hang in there girls! My eldest (daughter) is a Tattoo Artist, currently in Houston Texas. And the same issue y’all ran into with this craft being male dominated seems to be an ugly problem everywere. What I see, is the women really do this for the Art. The males tend to do this for the “social” angle, no matter how good or poor their work is. l see good work here, keep it up!

    • April 19, 2014 6:11 am

      Thank you for your advice & encouragement! It’s always great to hear from supporters : )

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