Celtic Tattoos by Pat Fish
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I naturally had to feature work from The Celtic Tattoo Queen herself, Pat Fish.
Collectors from around the world travel to Pat's Santa Barbara studio for her intricate knot and dot work tattoos. Last year, I posted an excerpt from my Inked mag profile on Pat, and I figure it's fitting today to post a bit more from our Q&A, where we talk about how she earned her royal title:
You're called the "Queen of Knots" in the tattoo community. How did that get started?
Lyle Tuttle gave me the name "Queen of Knots, and the title "Celtic Queen of the West Coast" came from a Skin & Ink magazine article. When I started [to tattoo], I was thirty years old. You can really do what you want till you turn thirty, but at that point, you better specialize and chose a profession, something that you are. I put myself through college doing research interviewing, and then I got hired by the local weekly newspaper to interview people. I did it for over a decade. But after a while, I got to where I didn't want to be edited anymore, where they'd brutally cut my work to make room for more advertising. I finally just decided that I wanted to do art full time. At that point, I thought that tattooing seemed to be the most legit way to do art. That's when I went on my quest to find who I should learn from and the rest is history. Now it's almost 28 years. Simultaneously, I decided something else I really needed was to find out my true identity because I was an orphan and lived all my life with a chip on my shoulder that somewhere, in some office, was the truth of about where I came from. I put a private eye on to find out who I was, and it turns out that I'm Scottish. It just made sense to me that everyone else in the world has ethnic pride--has an identity--and here I was finding it out and at the same time learning to do this new skill. So I decided to specialize in Celtic art, bringing back that tattoo tradition of the Europeans.
Like what traditions?
People think that the Europeans started getting tattooed when Captain Cook came back from Tahiti with tattooed sailors, who had gotten souvenirs when they went and explored. That isn't true. The Pictish people were known for their tattoos. It turns out that I'm a Campbell and the clan Campbell are Picts. It's an extremely small ethnic group. I thought it was something I should explore and one of the ways to do that would be to bring back alive this tradition of the heavily tattooed Pictish people--to bring these designs back to life in skin. One of the better choices of my life was to learn to tattoo and then to specialize in this.
See more of Pat's work on Luckyfish.com. Slainte!