We had the good fortune of connecting with Adriana Hallow and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adriana, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve always been an artist. Some of my earliest memories are drawing and crafts. Eventually when I grew up, I realized there was nothing I was more passionate about than art and i couldn’t see myself doing anything else for a living. My father was really conservative so when it came time for college he wasn’t too supportive of Art School, so Design was a good compromise instead of going to Business School like he would have hoped. I quickly discovered I couldn’t see myself working as a designer. Going to school for it was fun, but working in that field didn’t feel like a good fit, since all the classes in enjoyed most were the ones that crossed over with art school like Illustration and Shop Class. I was also very lucky to have a partner who believed in me and who saw me as a tattoo artist. They got me a machine online and I was immediately hooked. It had a 2d element but a 3d application. It hasn’t stopped being challenging which has kept me going because I can’t get bored of it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love how tattoos can help people feel more like themselves, reclaim their bodies after physical and/or emotional trauma or simply make statements. I’ve gained notoriety for my vibrant color work on all skin tones, with whimsical compositions incorporating florals, animals, portraits and fantasy elements.
As a queer tattoo artist it became really important to me to push for inclusivity and body positivity in an industry that is still very cis-straight-male dominated, that can also be pretty racist. There is a huge stigma surrounding tattoos on dark skin. I think it’s time we start viewing all skin with the same value. Any style of tattooing can be adjusted to any body. Our job as tattoo artists is not to judge skin. I think that it will start with reframing the way we as artists value our work and value our canvases. The emphasis should be on the tattoo itself, not the canvas.
I never set out to be known in the industry for dark skin, it all just happened because I said YES, without hesitation. I kept hearing the same story over and over again of clients getting denied the tattoo they wanted because of the color of their skin. It never made sense to me to turn them away. 7 years later, these tattoos are still vibrant so I just kept on doing it. It did take some trial and error for sure, understanding what colors looked the best when healed, because that really what matters.
I actually have an online seminar going in depth about how to apply color on all skin tones coming out in the fall because to this day I haven’t seen anything like it. There is no comprehensive information about it out there that I could find, so I decided to make my own to help other artists out there and raise awareness.
I can say however that because I started my tattoo career in NYC I did not experience many set backs because of my gender or sexual orientation, but I did experience an emotionally abusive environment at the first tattoo shop where I worked. Luckily I was able to leave in 2016 and found Majestic Tattoo where I tattooed along side veteran tattoo artist Adal Ray for 2 years, I was then offered a position at 10 Thousand Foxes. Working along side so many artists that inspired me really forced me to push myself. My work immediately got better, but in August 2020 I was offered a position as Resident Artist at Inkology Art Gallery, where I am at today. The guest artists here are world renowned, ones I have been following for years. It lit a fire under my a**. That’s when I really became confident in my own work, I feel like I’m finally at the level of people that I looked up to. I think it’s important as an artist to never be complacent so you can continue to grow.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in NYC so there are an infinite number of restaurants, but some of my favorites are Little Purity Diner in Park Slope for their burgers, Colonie for their pasta and drinks. For a fancy dinner my favorite place is Don Angie, its some of the best meals i’ve ever had.
Places to visit I’d say Greenwood Cemetery is number one. It is older than central park and it was conceived as both a park and a cemetery. It has some of the best views of the city as the highest elevation in Brooklyn. I’d definitely visit the west village and the Museum of Natural history.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My friends Victor who got me my first tattoo machine, Mariam who was my first ever canvas, Erica and Steph who trusted me since the beginning and believe in me before I believed in myself. Also my fiancée Anna who gave me the confidence and support to push myself to the next level in my career.
Youtube: Adriana Hallow
Other: Tik Tok @adrianahallow