‘Stick and Poke’ Tattoo Artist Tati Compton on Discovering Her Wild Soul

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“I was free and awake for the first time,” says the LA-based artist of eating psilocybin mushrooms aged 17

“I was about 17 when I first ate psilocybin mushrooms. I ended up in my boyfriend’s mother’s bathroom. I thought I might have to puke and was staring into the toilet when everything started to breathe and I realised that everything is living. I retreated into myself and was running and playing, naked and wild in the woods, away from electricity, concrete and the oppressive vibrations of these societies man has built. I realised that everything is connected, the all and the nothing; that the entire universe is within myself and every being. I was free and awake for the first time. I had gotten in touch with my wild soul, which so many of us have forgotten exists and even shun and stifle it. After that day I decided I wanted to be a traveller and am lucky enough to have a skill within a craft that can be taken anywhere.”

I have been following the work of Tati Compton for some time. Every time I went to Los Angeles, where she lives and works, I would try to get an appointment with her, but she gets booked up so quickly. I only got in through a cancellation. I have several tattoos, but there is something to be said about her self-taught technique, traditional ‘stick and poke’. It’s lo-fi, historically used in rural communities or by prison inmates. There’s something quite pure, intimate and personal about it. You can’t plan the exact outcome – every motif, even if it’s in the same world, will be unique. I like the idea of somebody applying a piece of art onto your body and you going away, taking their work on a journey. I’m waiting for the next one...

Hair: Kiyoko Odo at Bryant Artists. Make-up: Jenny Coombs at Streeters London using MAC. Photographic assistant: Phil Hewitt. Styling assistants: Rebecca Perlmutar, Camila Paiva and Georgina Craig. Hair assistant: Tomoaki Usui. Make-up assistant: Kimie Yasiro

This story originally featured in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale internationally now.