Some tattoo artists specialize in Japanese-style bodysuits, while others focus on more traditional Americana pieces. Golden Rule Tattoo's Stephanie Flannery thinks those are cool and all, but she's more interested in creating tattoos of a different subject matter.
"I think doing tattoos of people's pets are super fun," Flannery says. "Talking to people about their pets while doing the tattoo is super fun for me, I love talking to people about their pets."
Part of what makes doing pet tattoos a perfect match for the 22-year-old artist is that she primarily specializes in realistic and portrait tattoos. The animal lover may be one of Phoenix's youngest tattooers, but she's been interested in the tattoo lifestyle for quite some time now.
"I've done art for as long as I can remember. My dad was an artist, but he didn't do tattoos," Flannery says. "I loved tattooing ever since I started noticing it as a kid. I always thought it was cool."
Though she hasn't yet done any major tattoo expos or entered the field of "competitive tattooing" for awards and medals yet, Flannery is one of the most respected tattoo artists in Phoenix. The Roosevelt Row-based artist began her career in the Valley's tattoo industry by working at the shop's counter when she was 17. She apprenticed for a year at the age of 18 and became a tattoo artist before her 20th birthday.
"I'm thankful to do what I love as a career," she says. "I wouldn't want to do anything else."
What are some of your tattoos? I have a full sleeve done by Matt Jones. I worked with him as an apprentice, and he's a huge inspiration for me. I also have a big skull on my side done by Matt Geiogamah, which was a super-cool experience because I got to learn from it. I don't have a lot, but they're bigger pieces and I'm a pretty small person.
What's a memorable tattoo you've done? I did a pug portrait on a girl's leg, and that was so fun because I love pugs.
What's the most important thing to you about a tattoo? That it'll age well and flow with your body. It needs to complement your body but also look good forever.
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What do you look for in an artist or a tattoo shop? I like someone who is humble but also confident. First and foremost, they have to be a great artist, but I don't want to work with a jerk.
Would you change anything about your tattoos or tattooing if you could? As an artist, you're always growing, so there are always little things you would change. As long as you practice and strive to get better, that's what's important. For tattoos I have, I think everyone has that one tattoo that they would change or do differently.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone getting their first tattoo? Just to seek out a good artist and to make sure they have a solid idea of what they want. They should make sure they have a solid shop and know what they want going into it. Do the research, and it'll be fine.