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Meet Erin Carson of Steele Ink Studios in Lawrenceville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Carson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Erin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always been an artist, ever since I was a little kid. In high school, I took four years of art classes and began preparing for art school. I considered a lot of different career paths, SFX makeup, theatre makeup, graphic design, illustration, the list goes on and on. Upon graduating, I had been accepted into my dream art school. But even after all of my scholarships, it was way too expensive. I considered other majors besides art, but I knew that art would be the only job that I would ever feel truly happy in. I received my first tattoo a few days after my 18th birthday and got one of my own art pieces on my thigh. I asked my tattoo artist about how she got into her art and her career as a tattoo artist, and she gave me her story about how she had spent so much time in art school only to realize that she didn’t have to go to school to do what she loved.

Tattooing had always been something that I had loved and thought about, it just never seemed realistic until that moment. So, when I graduated high school in May of 2019, I began putting together a portfolio of my artwork and took it to a tattoo shop that a girl I know was apprenticing at that had tattooed me before. I was extremely nervous and I had a lot of doubt, what if I wasn’t good enough? What if I don’t succeed? What if people don’t like my work? But despite all of these doubts, it was what I wanted most, so I knew I would do anything it takes to make this career a reality. I was accepted to apprentice at Steele Ink Studios, and I’ve been apprenticing there ever since. I am so lucky to work with an amazing group of women that support me and my work, and we all help each other grow each and every day. It is truly my dream job and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I get to give people art that they love to wear for life.

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road, definitely a lot of bumps. During my freshman year of high school, I got really sick with mono and I had to be out of school for an entire semester because I was too weak to do anything. Following that, I have been diagnosed with various other things and I am chronically ill. There are days where its really hard to get out of bed, in constant pain, and it is hard for people to understand because my illness isn’t something that you can see.

Other than that, there are definitely times where I beat myself up because I feel like I’m not doing good enough or progressing fast enough, that my artwork isn’t good enough. And a big struggle to is with social media, constantly seeing these amazing pieces and comparing myself to them. But when I feel this way I’ve got to take a step back and remind myself that I am not any of these other people, my artwork is my work, not theirs. Everyone progresses at different rates. I am me and all I can do is strive to be a better me each and every day.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Steele Ink Studios story. Tell us more about your work.
I am a tattoo apprentice at Steele Ink Studios. I am currently tattooing there, being mentored by other artists at the shop. I’m not particularly known for anything yet, I am still finding my own personal style but I am growing and getting better with each and every tattoo. I think what sets me apart is that no matter how rough things get, I have the constant drive to prove myself, and I’m not afraid to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone.

As for the shop as a whole, we are an all-female shop, which I think is really awesome as the tattoo industry can be a hard place for female artists. We value all of our clients so much and strive to give them a piece of art that they are going to absolutely love for the rest of their life. We are constantly creating and striving to be the best that we can be. I love all of the women that I work with and I think that we are just a wonderful, strong group of extremely talented women.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Tattooing is becoming more and more popular, especially in this age of social media. We are always seeing new styles come into popularity and the boundaries of tattooing being pushed farther. I think its amazing seeing so many artists getting to do what they love as a living. It’s impossible to say where tattooing will go as its constantly evolving in many ways, but it can only keep getting better. I also see tattoos becoming more normalized, especially in the workplace, and less taboo which I think is really awesome. Everyone should have the right to do what they want with their body and not be judged or given less opportunities for that.

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Image Credit:
Erin Carson

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