Artist Profile: Claire Reid, Tattoo Nomad
Claire Reid is a nomad. She travels across continents painting and tattooing eager collectors. Her style speaks of a quixotic existence, a jumbling of colors and shapes that betray stylistic definition. Her forms are fluid and organic. Personally, her look is bohemian, hippie, drum circle chic with the most elaborate body markings. She is her own chief.
I met her quite by accident or at least by the divine design of one who wants us to believe in accidents. Researching another article for this site, I was looking at pictures of full chest pieces. Twice, on different days, I came across Claire's work. It is unusual that I would notice a name or any text while staring at a beautiful piece of art. But I did. Then I looked further, reviewing her online portfolio, and found images of tattoos given around the world. I wanted a piece. More so, I wanted to be part of this motion around and forward. I wanted to be on that globe. I forgot the other article. I wrote to Claire.
This was the first time that I was searching for work simply for the sake of having the artist do it. If there are rites of passage in tattooing, this was one.
She wrote back. It was more than a month later. She was in New York, somewhat secretly, and would have time to work on a piece. The timing was terrible. I have no money. Nomads don't need to pay rent, but I do. Nevertheless, I found a way. I made the choice of spiritual and artistic creation over immediate, more corporal needs. So, I stepped deeply into the murk.
I meet Claire at Tribulation Tattoo in the East Village, NYC. The warlocks and gremlins that hang the upside down crucifix in its window (right across from a church, no less) mock her hippie style.
The tattoo we chose (and I say we because Claire was an active and helpful partner in the design and conception process) was of two tarot cards: The Magician and The Fool.
The Fool, always pictured walking off a cliff, is the risk-taker--his next step always across some great divide. Alone, he is nothing more than his namesake. But when paired with the powerful and potent Magician--the giver of spells, sorcery and sanctity--The Fool is transformed. His risks are rewarded, his dares desirable.
That is the point where I find myself. I am leaping and believe that there is a force to plant a field beneath my feet when I return to ground. We begin an 8-hour-plus session on my leg. She tattoos and listens. She understands The Fool.
After The Fool, she starts working on The Magician, but after these past eight hours, she must leave soon. We've gotten the face of The Magician down, transformed by her alchemy into a Rembrandt painting and The Fool card, altered so that he is walking out of the card, constantly in motion.
We start making plans for its completion and further expansion. When I see Claire next year, we will add a stained glass window on the back of the leg and then begin working below the knee. The design will go down to the feet--down to the apex of movement, down where The Fool--and this tattoo nomad--push the globe forward again.
Claire still has available appointments during her guest stay at Tribulation Tattoo until this Saturday, April 24th. You can contact the studio at 212-539-1953.