#followfriday- 4 Indigenous Tattoo Artists
Tattoos are an ancient form of artistry practiced by Indigenous people across the world. Often traditionally signifying achievements, ancestral and family ties, or coming of age, tattoos have long held deep meaning. As tattoos become more widely seen and accepted, we have seen a rise in amazing Indigenous tattoo artists who are changing the industry while holding true to cultural teachings and restoring Indigenous symbolism. Each of the following artists are beautifying bodies and sharing their versatility and creative skills in the online space.
Kira Murillo is a standout tattoo artist in Ndn Country and her amazing work is of the most sought after in the industry. Her signature colourful designs feature intricate geometrics and linework alongside gorgeous florals. Her unique and beautiful creations have carved her place as an important designer and Native creative across mediums. Kira’s artistry is diverse as she has not only designed her own clothing but has teamed up with Teton Trade Cloth to create beautiful cotton bandanas.
Kira’s career bagan with the support of her family and community, a kindness she actively pays back. In recent years she has welcomed Indigenous artists in her community to enter an art competition which she has organized and raised money for. Raffling highly coveted tattoo sessions with her so that she could secure money for prizes, Kira shares her gift widely, with the goal of uplifting others.
Her beautiful creations and beautiful soul shine through her work. When asked for a word of advice for other creatives, Kira says: “Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. You make your own happiness.”
Quill Violet Christie-Peters
Anishinaabe artist, Quill Christie-Peters has made her mark on the Indigeous art world with her strikingly gorgeous and thought-provoking pieces. Whether it is her tattoo work, paintings or beadwork, her art tells stories of ancestral connection, and the interconnectedness between us, the land, and the unseen.
Quill’s interests are diverse and she uses her social media and website to share her wisdom and writings on the experiences that impact her as an Anishinaabe woman, mother, and artist. She has shared about the intergenerational impacts of the residential school system in her family, decolonial self-love and bodily autonomy, challenges faced when sharing her art publicly and much more. Her voice is impactful and empowering. She urges us to embrace the ways we “spill-over” as Indigenous people, not meant to be contained within colonial structures and forms. Her creations reflect her inspiring worldview and offer a glimpse of her connection to spirit.
Quill's tattoos are an evocative must-see.
Bobbi Jo Matheson
Bobbi Jo Matheson is a Cree tattoo artist and entrepreneur. Following years of tattooing from her home, Bobby Jo decided to make a change and with the help of her family she opened CREE8IV Ink Body Studio in 2015. Her creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to helping community blossomed from there as she shared her artform and found new ways to create change.
Seeing a gap in solid mentorship for artists looking to get into the tattoo industry, Bobbi Jo opened the Alberta College of Body Art Training Facility. The school is provincially licensed, ensuring that students have the opportunity to access government student assistance while attending. Bobbi Jo and her colleagues have built a program that aims to support tattoo artists in achieving long-term career success. Offering courses in history, composition and style, infection control, synthetic and live skin practice, and industry insights including portfolio building and marketing, the program provides students with a uniquely well-rounded grasp of what they will encounter in the industry.
Bobbi Jo’s impressive resume is accompanied by her immense talent and skill as an artist. Her beautiful florals, impressive line-work, and crisp lettering can be seen throughout her extensive online portfolio of the amazing tattoos she has blessed her customers with.
Ayla Roda is a Filipino-American tatak practitioner of Ilongg, Ilokano,Celtic, and Slavic roots. "Tatak" means to mark in Tagalog also known as Traditional Filipino Tattooing. Inspired by myth and well-versed in Indigenous symbolism, her work holds great detail and features sacred geometry.
When tattooing people of similar decent, Ayla takes care to create designs based on their family and ancestral lineage. She honours traditional teachings that reserve specific markings as carrying deeper cultural meaning, limiting her use of these tattoos to only those of particular status or acheivement. Her skills and foundational knowledge are diverse and indicative of her goal to honour the Old Ways of her ancestors, revive and promote Indigenous and traditional tattooing, and preserve traditional ways of life. She specializes in machine tattooing, hand poking, and hand tapping.
When not tattooing, Ayla is a painter, jewelry-maker, and crafter. Her remarkable creativity translates across mediums as she seems to have the Midas touch of artistic ability.