Name? — Aarika, AKA “Beetlejuice,” AKA “Beju”
Shop name? — Tattoo Obscura/Traveler
Location?– Anywhere, but mostly Janesville, Wisconsin.
Years tattooing? — 11
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Describe your tattoo style in five words or less.
Animated, Nerdy, Illustrative, cartoony, colorful.
At what age did you begin pursuing art?
About the time I could hold a pencil.
What/who were your earliest influences?
A LOT of video games, anime, animals, and Sunday comics.
When and how did human skin become your canvas of choice?
I always found myself drawing on people in school—and getting in trouble for it (LOL). Then, one day tattooing took a chance on me and I haven’t stopped.
You began your career in a biker shop. What was it like as a young, female tattoo apprentice to work in that environment?
Oof, was it a doozy! I wouldn’t say it broke me but I definitely had to rebuild myself. It was an experience and I wouldn’t have changed for the world, though! You gotta have thick skin, for sure.
The style you’ve developed runs doesn’t seem like it would fit in a biker studio. Did you get any backlash?
Not backlash for my style because I could only tattoo flash, but I for sure got it for trying new techniques too early in my apprenticeship. One time, my machines got thrown away. I eventually had to move on to find the right clients for the style and subject matter I like to do now.
You’ve credited tattooing with pulling you out of drug addiction. How did tattooing do that for you?
I was rippin’ and runnin’ for almost 10 years. Eventually, it caught up with me, but I didn’t notice it until I saw it on skin. I’ve always believed in the saying, “You’re only as good as your last tattoo,” so I knew I had a to make a change.
As a young tattoo artist, where do you think we should draw the line between respect for the traditions of the trade and helping to push its evolution?
There is no line of division. Only a starting point. The starting point that made tattooing what it is now is traditional tattooing. Other than that, the only line that needs to be drawn is on paper. Art is a living, breathing thing and each artist puts their own little quirks, life experiences and interpretation on the gold standard (traditional tattooing), which then becomes the new normal. Besides if we didn’t put our own spin on things would we be artists or just copy machines?
Favorite part of your job?
Making those smiles flow, baby! 🙂
Least favorite part of your job?
My own nitpicking
I’m the ghost with the most!
Any parting words?
BEJU: coming to a town near you. It’s showtime!