It seems like nowadays everyone and their mother has a tattoo. And it isn’t just growing in popularity on the East and West coasts, the Midwestern tattoo scene is growing pretty rapidly, too. One artist that should be on your radar is Carrie Metz-Caporusso (@carrie_metz_caporusso). She’s an Ann Arbor, Michigan tattoo artist who has gained notice for her whimsical, black and gray designs. Not only that, but she has also done lots of flash tattoo events that have generated thousands of dollars in donations for charities like the Trans Law Center and the Joyful Heart Foundation. Ahead is Caporusso’s conversation with Bustle about her practice, art, and charity fundraising.
How did you start tattooing?
My best friend was just like, “Hey, you should be a tattoo artist.” I was in a really bad job and wasn’t making a lot of money and I was like, yeah, this could be a good way to get me out of poverty. I went to a lot of shops in the Tampa area, and no one would really even talk to me or look at my portfolio. Then I met my now-partner at a party and was immediately smitten. He said, “Oh, I’ll teach you how to tattoo.” So, we dated, and I got an apprenticeship, all rolled into one. It worked out really well for me, I’m not gonna lie. Tattooing is hard to get into.
What were your tattoos like back then, and how did you develop the unique style you have now?
I started drawing in black and white, but my partner is an American traditional tattooer. I started tattooing that way because it is a good way to start: You learn the line work, you learn shading, you learn saturation. You cover all your bases being a traditional tattooer. But, it wasn’t making me happy and it wasn’t how I naturally was drawing. So, I decided to go back to being me and how I like to draw and my art form. Plus, the traditional tattooing space is just saturated, especially where I live. There are three traditional tattooers in my shop, and no one was doing, like, whimsical illustrations. That also helped me decide to just go back to my roots and do what I love.
If someone was to come to you today and say “Do whatever you want,” what would you draw?
Lately, I’ve just been into very whimsical children’s illustrations and spacey, sweet things. I drew a dog in space, and he was going after his bone and he had a little space outfit on. I just like cute, sweet, whimsical things. And florals. Anything with flowers makes me happy.
Are there any specific things that you do during the tattoo appointment to make sure that the client is relaxed and feels comfortable?
Sometimes, I think I hound people too much. Like, I ask them all the time, “How are you doing? Are you OK?” I just always make sure they’re comfortable, because when you’re comfortable, the tattoo turns out so much better. Checking in is a really big part in making sure that they don’t feel pressured to get anything they don’t want.
Do you have a favorite tattoo that you’ve ever done?
That is a tough question. I tell people my tattoos are like children, it’s hard to say. I did just do a whole family of bunnies snuggling in a pile that was definitely a bright spot in the past few weeks. But, I really love it all. You just put so much heart into it.