Artist Profile: Annette LaRue
In this latest Inked magazine (the Rock-n-Roll issue), I interviewed veteran tattooist (and rock star in her own right) Annette LaRue of Electric Ladyland Tattoo in New Orleans. We had a fun time chatting about everything, from inking her first tattoo at 13 years old to handling French Quarter drunks to her upcoming retirement. Here's a taste:
You must tattoo a lot of characters. Any favorites?
Well, we had this one guy we called "The Sheriff of Frenchmen Street." He sat outside on the bench all day long and drank draft beer. I had an apprentice and told him, "You got to go out there and tattoo that guy. He's out there every day, he's got tattoos and you can do better than what he's got." So he went over and got the guy, Dave (The Sheriff), to come in. He became one of our favorite customers. All our apprentices tattooed him. For every five apprentice tattoos, I'd do one good tattoo on him. He was awesome. After Katrina, he moved away and couldn't get back. We found out a couple of years later that he drank himself to death. There are a lot of characters like him who we don't see anymore.
With Katrina and the oil spill, and the people of the Gulf experiencing a lot of heartache, how does this translate in the tattoo business? Do you see a lot of people getting memorial tattoos for example?
Oh yes. People here like to wear their strong emotions. And they do it through tattoos.
That's got to be heavy.
It was horrible the first year or two after Katrina. Everyone who came in had a tragic story. Three guys who worked for me lost everything they owned. So yeah, it changed everything. But it made business great. We never had an appointment book before that; we were a walk-in shop. A couple of guys would have appointments a couple of times a week, but now over half of our tattoos are by appointment. It shocks me everyday just how many people come in. I'm not trying to brag, and I'm sorry for other people not doing well, but we've been blessed and really lucky. It's also been a lot of hard work. I'd like to give my crew the credit. These guys are really the life of the shop.
Read more in the latest issue of Inked on newsstands now and available for download online.