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Meet Trailblazer Kandace Layne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kandace Layne.

Kandace, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, I used to go to the library every day after school. I loved to read and would read pretty much anything. I stumbled across a book on Japanese tattooing and I became obsessed from that point on. I practiced drawing tattoo related things as much as I could and did as much digging on the subject as possible. I read that the correct way to get into the industry was through an apprenticeship, so I was determined to get one.

For high school, I went to an independent school where they encouraged us to work under someone before we graduated, which was perfect for me because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My counselors took me to a tattoo shop, City of Ink, to ask for an apprenticeship. They allowed me to apprentice there and I ended up working there for seven years. Because I was so young when I started (I did my first tattoo on my 18th birthday), I really grew up there. Throughout those years, I was able to develop my own style and understand the importance of being authentic and doing what comes naturally to you. I was forced to toughen up and learned how to deal with so many different kinds of people. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I am so grateful for the experience. I decided to focus on henna inspired tattooing because I come from a Muslim home. My mom converted to Islam when I was around 13 years old, so I grew up getting henna done all the time. My goal when doing anything is to make sure it would look good in any skin tone and the henna-inspired style was perfect for that. After being at City of Ink for seven years and wanting to push myself further, I decided to leave. A longtime family friend and world-renowned piercer and body arts educator, Bethrah Szumski and her partner Brandon Simmons, who is an awesome tattoo artist offered me a spot at a new studio in Marietta called The Queen Bee Tattoo Parlour. I immediately accepted as I have always wanted to work for Bethrah. She was the first person I ever talked to about becoming a tattoo artist when I was 15 years old.

Since Marietta is a little far for some of my clients, I realized I needed a place to transition. I live across the street from Joe Vegas’ Thunderbolt Tattoo, my fiancé is the piercer there, and one of my closest friends Proph Buddy also worked there so it felt only right to work there too. So now, I’m at Thunderbolt on Monday and Tuesday for my clients who may not be able to make it to Marietta, and Queen Bee Friday-Sunday. I have always wanted to work at two shops so I couldn’t be happier. At this time I am focusing mostly on henna inspired medium/large scale projects and am excited to see what this year brings and where my new path will lead.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
At this time, I am mostly focusing on henna inspired and geometric tattooing. It’s important to me to cater to all skin tones and create a safe space for all people but especially female/femme folks and POC to get tattooed. It may sound like something you’d think is common, but tattooing is still kind of segregated in a way. There isn’t much visibility for POC, there aren’t many tattooers prioritizing their needs when creating designs or during the application of the tattoo. Honestly, there aren’t many people who are knowledgeable about tattooing deeper skin tones and a lot of tattoo artists seem to have no interest. Also, there’s been a bit of sexual assault in happening tattooing where artists are assaulting their coworkers and/or clients. I have made it my mission to make sure POC, especially women, have an artist they are safe with.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
I have quite a collection of tattoo reference books and I try to buy a new book every month. I have an ipad so I make most of my designs on an app called Procreate where I can upload a picture of the clients body part they want tattooed and draw the design directly on the picture, it makes it easier to do cover-ups and I’m able to show clients what their tattoo will look like for the most part before we start. I also use it to do digital paintings which is really convenient when it comes to making prints and merch.

Contact Info:

  • Address: THUNDERBOLT TATTOO
    2088 Briarcliff RD NE
    Atlanta, GAQUEEN BEE TATTOO PARLOUR
    700 Sandy Plains RD A2
    Marietta, GA
  • Website: www.kandacelayne.com
  • Email: kandacelayneart@gmail.com
  • Instagram: Kandacelayne

Image Credit:
@glasovisuals (black and white tattooing photo), @snaxink (purple photo nape Tattoo)

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