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Tat2X Interview with Artist Shelly Dax

Posted on September 17 2020

Tat2X:  How long have you been involved in the tattoo business?

Shelly Dax: Over 14 crazy, roller coaster years.

Multi-disciplinary Artist Shelly Dax

Tat2X: What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?

Shelly Dax: Been a multi-discipline artist my whole life, singing my first solo at age 5, drawing, painting and writing tons of poetry and stories. Drove my family crazy with all the “plays” I put on! I’ve always rejected the idea of a “real” job, having worked in theatre and loved directing, teaching and being my own boss. I have been immersed in all kinds of art; singing, set painting, scriptwriting, mosaic tile, etc.  I got my own first tattoo and was hooked on this unusual and personal artform because I also love connecting with people!

Tat2X: How and where did you learn the art of tattooing?

Shelly Dax: I live in Oregon where it is a state requirement to attend tattoo school before getting licensed. My experience in this particular school was baaad, so I was mostly self- taught. Once I had more experience, I decided I would open my own school and make it a professional and peak experience for my students. I’ve also attended some amazing seminars at conventions and followed some incredible artists, that taught me a lot as well.

Tat2X: Are there any artists tattoo or otherwise that you admire? We love names.

Shelly Dax: Hannah Aitchison, Jeff Gogue, Ivana Belakova, Jake Meeks and Mike Devries were the folks I admired, studied and learned the most from.  I am also very inspired by New Zealand tattooer Makkala Rose.

Bird Tattoos by Shelly Dax

Tat2X: Has any individual in particular influenced your career?

Shelly Dax: Angry, arrogant old-skoolers have pushed me so hard, even going so far as to cyberbully me (which I made a youtube video about). I’ve responded with humor and intention to bring a gentler more inclusive side to the industry. Thus, I was motivated to write The Tattoo Textbook, based on my eight years as a tattoo mentor, which took me 5 years to put together!

And currently I am delighted to be hosting an awesome interview series with 25 tattoo artists & entrepreneurs focused on inclusivity, education and growing as a tattooer mostly aimed at women tattoo hopefuls and beginners. Anyone can join into this FREE event by going to this link:

Tat2X: What would you say is your favorite part of the job?

Shelly Dax: Interacting with lovely, trusting people and being immersed in art every day.

Tat2X: How would you describe your style? Is there a style you prefer or enjoy?

Shelly Dax: I guess I’d mostly say feminine, natural lines and splashy. I love tattooing pretty designs, celestial images, animals, plants.

Tat2X: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists tattoo or otherwise?

Shelly Dax: Bottom-line my best advice, as cliché as it sounds is: follow your heart, and try and make each day FUN!  Loving what you do is a crucial part to being happy on this creative, bumpy journey. And absolutely do come join in the interview series I mentioned, because all the artists have shared nuggets of wisdom and solid advice for building a career.

Little Mermaid Tattoo by Shelly Dax

Tat2X: What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Shelly Dax: In the shop we mix it up a lot because of so many different tastes: but I could listen to showtunes, disney music and jazz standards all day! I know…not typical shop fare, but I’m a singer too, so I love to sing along while I tattoo.  Catch me in December and it’s all holiday tunes!

Tat2X: What are your favorite foods?

Shelly Dax: Fresh caught crab from the Oregon coast. And champagne. And greek dolmas. Yum.

Tat2X: What do you do to relax when you’re not at the studio?

Shelly Dax: Alternative music. Yoga, old movies, massages, hikes, cooking and gardening. And mostly spending time with my foodie family. (We all love to do food challenges!)

Tat2X: Is there anything else we should know about you or your studio?

Shelly Dax: I am passionate about helping newbies get into this career and being a tattoo coach and mentor. I strongly believe in a supportive tattoo education, and think all determined newcomers deserve respect and consideration, no matter how they choose to start on this artistic path.  I stand for equality and safety as well.  I make it my mission to inspire and encourage both my clients and my students.

More About Shelly Dax: 

Shelly is a 14-year tattooer, artist, author, painter and fierce Pollyanna. She owns Garden of Ink Tattoo Studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon and loves to celebrate the positive, creative side of life. Her motto is CREATE-ILLUMINATE-CONNECT.

Instagram Page: @ShellyDax
Facebook: @ShellyDax

Tiger Tattoo by Shelly Dax