We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristina Bennett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristina, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
My Healing and the world of Tattooing.
I was raised in a suburb outside Minneapolis, in a outwardly ‘normal” looking family, but inwardly messy chaotic home.
Both of my parents were creatives, but came from generational curses of depression, drug and alcohol addiction, c0-dependency, and abuse .
Growing up in this dysfunction I needed an escape and found my only refuge: art and music ( which oddly enough were the creative interests I took from my folks).
After finding my moms old paintbox, I taught myself to oil paint at the age of 12. Also around that time I started to find an outlet as an angsty teen in hardcore punk and gothic music. Once these two art forms joined forces in my brain, it was pretty natural I would become obsessed with being a tattoo artist.
Being a tattooer is something I always wanted – but back then there was no internet, no Inkmasters or Instagram.
At 14 I hand poked my first tattoo on myself, (that I still have today) . My first real tattoo was from a shop in Dunstable, England , where I had ran off to at 19 years old for 4 months. ( Oh I havent even mentioned my addition to traveling yet … hahah ) When I asked the burly, crabby, tattoo artist dude “how do you become a tattoo artist? ” his only response was “well there’s no fucking school for it”. My 19 year old self was SHOOK! So I asked no further questions. ha.
My work experience has always in a creative field, even after becoming a single mom at 25. A traveling flower girl at Renaissance festivals around the US, also sewing costume hats and making flower crowns. Off season i worked doing flowers for weddings, graduations and funerals. There was a time I worked as an after school arts teacher. Then some how ended up working with Michelin star chefs as pastry chef/cook/manager after attending culinary school. I even worked as Chef instructor for a while, Some of these jobs continued, while I was in the beginning of my tattoo career. PSA: I dont recommend getting yelled at by a chef all day to leave and go try to tattoo when you are just learning,
I have had great experiences tattooing and hellish ones. Each taught me a lesson. In the last 2 decades I have tattooed from Hawaii to Boston and everywhere in between. I have had the privilege of working exclusive national AND international tattoo conventions. Today it has enabled me to co – own a private studio, with my Fiancée Sorin Gabor, in the East Bay of SF, as well as reoccurring guest tattooer with my friends at WHITE LOTUS BODY ARTS in Ventura, Ca. My work has also allowed me to support many charities I am passionate about.
Through all of my experiences what has impacted me the most, was my apprenticeship. My mentor Clancy Warner showed me that tattoos were more than making pictures on bodies to make money. She instilled in me the sacredness of putting ink into skin, the impact it has, and the ritual behind it, While I spent a lot of years, just trying to hustle to make ends meet, now, after 2 decades of tattooing, I am called to create tattoos that are tool for transformational healing.
I believe every tattoo can change you and bring release and healing, if you approach it with right intention, right thoughts and right actions. The pain you endure during a tattoo session can be a powerful, and transformational. I have learned energy work to infuse the tools I use, the inks I work with, and to help the client reach the intention set for the tattoo. This isnt new – this is the historical foundation that all tattooing came from.
Tattooing is right of passage, a marker of an event, or a release of a buried wound. This is where I want the rest of my career as a tattoo artist to be focused in- and it has all stemmed from when I found my moms paintbox, and my first Black Flag record , and my need for something in me to be healed,
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is always about leveling up to be a better human. Be it a painting, a tattoo, cooking, sculpting in clay, its a practice in the painful work of growth,
Learning to create art in any form isn’t an easy task. It wasn’t made any easier being a single mom. I failed many more times that Id like to admit, but …..I……pushed……forward. I made every opportunity happen by working, reaching out, taking risks. Following that voice in my gut that said, “yes this is the next lesson, the next road, the next challenge”.
What motivates me is knowing you have made a impact in this world , through generosity, authenticity, and intention in my art.
My goal in the future is to have a healing, inclusive, transformational tattoo practice. An intentional collaboration with the client, combining the healing modalities I have learned and the ritual craft of tattoo.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I still havent done any Hollywood or any celebrity chasing stuff, as it isn’t my thing, While hanging in LA with friends, its all about exploring the diversity, the independent restaurants/shopping. I love Olvera Street district. Its a great way to spend the afternoon in “old LA” . Korea town is a must , as well as The Grand Central market.
Grab some tacos at Guisados in Echo Park and chill at the lake.
I shy away from the crowded beaches, so a perfect beach day for me would be a drive up to Malibu, I love the soft white sandy beaches then splurging on a sunset dinner at Carbon beach club restaurant.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Devin Bennett AKA Driftwoodtattoo – My son. As child he made me a better human, as an adult he showed me the path to Buddhist studies, insight meditation, and the dhamma.
Sorin Gabor , Not only is he my partner in life, but he is my business partner as well. A insanely talented painter, tattooer, and perfectionist and my foodie exploring companion 🙂
Clancy Warner, my tattoo mentor, now Ethical artist / sculptor located in Adelaide, South Australia
The women that have come before me to pave a path for us in the tattoo craft,