We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Catchings and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I think I pursued a career in the arts because ever since I was a toddler, I was thrust into the rigorous and demanding world of classical music. My entire life was about structure and discipline. On top of this I was homeschooled for a majority of my life, and being so kept me pretty isolated. Art was always an escape for me and I carried that with me throughout my life. The door that led me to tattooing was when I was going to school for animal science, surprisingly. I didn’t have much time for a social life so when I wasn’t putting in hours at school I was drawing in all my free time. That caught the eye of my then-boyfriend who was a tattoo artist and encouraged me to pursue a career in art and tattooing, which I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do! Best decision I’ve ever made. My creative outlet became my career and I feel pretty damn lucky to say so!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It’s funny, I really have a hard time putting a label on what to call my art. I love asking my clients and hearing their descriptions it really makes me happy to hear so many different creative descriptions, as well as perspectives on my art. Art is subjective right? My art to me, is one thing, but to someone else, it might be another. One thing I can say is where I draw my inspiration from. I absolutely love the work of Patrick Nagel, Aubrey Beardsley, the Gibson girls, playboy femlins, 80s and 90s vogue, post punk music, Art Deco and pretty much anything surreal. Salvador Dalí, Elsa Schiaparelli and René Magritte are some of my favorites. The list is long I know! But for me, it never gets boring, pulling from so many different pools of inspiration. It keeps me busy for sure! I think the art for me comes naturally, but my path to success wasn’t so easy. I’ve faced a lot of discrimination being a woman and doing feminine art in a world of traditional and male dominated tattooing. Luckily for me now I have carved my little path and have a magical little studio space and a wonderful apprentice (you rock Camille!). It wasn’t always that way though. Everything I have now I worked very hard for on my own and have taught myself everything that I know. I never had anyone to really guide me or boost my career, which I think gives me such a deep level of appreciation for what I’ve built. I never take it for granted! I love being able to create delicate feminine art, something I was told time and time again I’d never be successful with, and share it with so many wonderful supportive and creative kindred spirits!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with this one! I’m a California native and I’ve spent so much time in LA, what I find fun changes all the time for me. First of all, I’m a big nature guy so going and exploring areas outside the city are always fun. For example on my 29th birthday I spent the night in Joshua tree on a whim with my best friend and went rock climbing the next day. I think spontaneous adventure like that is the absolute best. Also Hicksville Trailer palace is a hidden gem out there too. I’m pretty much sober for the most part so I’m not too much of a bar goer, but Rainbow Bar and Grill is kind of a must for someone visiting from out of town! For food, my two main go to’s lately have been Yuko Kitchen and The Bun Shop. Both of these places absolutely kick ass and have really yummy veggie options. Just going to throw this in here as well- at Hollywood forever Cemetery there’s a whole giant cage of peacocks.. dozens of them! And I’m thee biggest bird nerd so I freaked out when I first saw them. Lastly it’s way too hard to name all of the amazing friends and creatives that I know in Los Angeles.. the list goes onnn. However my dear friend and colleague Annie Motel has a powerhouse all female studio in DTLA alongside some pretty rad girls. It’s cool I always feel so recharged and happy when I’m there and get to work alongside them all! Also in that same building my friend Alligator Jesus makes some beautiful custom jewelry. So I would say to visit them for sure! Love you guys!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family and my husband Jonathan. He has kept me sane and pushes me every day to reach my full potential. He was the one that encouraged me to overcome my fear and get my very first real job at a tattoo shop and I really owe every to his love and support. Also my late dear friend Drew Cambra. He was an incredible human being and an amazing tattoo artist and he really inspired me and encouraged me to pursue this path before I ever even thought it was possible. He passed 5 years ago but not a day goes by I don’t think about him and the impact he had on me. Also a cheeky lil shoutout to my bird son Wasabi.. he keeps me going! Love you Sabs!
Coralie Hammerlee Lewis @visionjester