We first met female tattoo artist Vanessa Elaine Saddi, also known as Vanessa the Artist, at the launch of Diamond Womens on Fairfax last year. A year later, Vanessa has made a name for herself growing an ever expanding list of clients who, until most recently, she would tattoo in the comfort of her studio in San Pedro. (Vanessa is now in the process of moving into a new workspace in Downtown Los Angeles.) Fashion Editor Leslie Corpuz sat down with Vanessa whilst also spontaneously deciding to get ink of her own.
LESLIE: Hi Vanessa! Where are you originally from?
VANESSA: I’m from Carson, California.
LESLIE: You mentioned you were actually in school for Computer Animation at Los Angeles Film School. How did that feed into your passion for the arts since you also mentioned you started off at a young age with drawing and painting?
The film and entertainment industry drew me in as soon as I realized I could draw. Animation was the first thing I pursued as far as choosing a professional career. Cartoons were my favorite thing to draw!
LESLIE: It's amazing to see how far you've come just in the past four years since you've started tattooing. Was there a particular person who helped push you or influence you to initially get into tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2013 when the homie, Daniel, who is also a tattoo artist my age convinced me to buy my first kit. Then, Madball, shop owner of the first and only tattoo shop I worked at in Carson hit me up when Element Tattoo Supply were having a tattoo-kit sale.
After years of picking up supplies from Element, I’ve gotten to know the owner, Eddie Tana (who also owns OC Tattoo in Garden Grove) and his wife, Thy Tana. With their awesome hospitality and support for women tattoo artists, they’ve shown their love by becoming my tattoo supply sponsors.
LESLIE: How would you describe your tattoo style?
I would say my tattoo style would be black and grey realism with lots of bold and fine lines. A lot of people come to me for Mandalas and other geometric pieces too. I do enjoy making them, but I love doing more realistic and detailed pieces such as flowers.
I recently just bought a Cheyenne Pen. It's the best! The difference between the Cheyenne pen and a traditional tattoo machine is instead of being driven by electromagnet coils, it uses a motor. The cheyenne pen (a rotary tattoo machine) uses a motor to move the needle up and down through the skin using a cyclical pattern, rather than than using magnets and electricity to smack the needles up and down. To me, rotary feels more smooth and consistent.
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to what type of machine they use, but I love using rotary.
LESLIE: You’ve done quite a few flash tattoo events with artist Aaron Kai (most recently), Diamond Supply, RIPNDIP, HLZBLZ. (Miss Lawn was our ISSUE 06 cover star!) How did you start collaborating with these tattoo events? Do you feel any pressure tattooing on average 10-15 people per event in a specific timeframe?
I am honored to have worked with these artists and brands. I met them all them through mutual friends. Tattoo parties always get hectic. I do get a bit worked, however it's nice to be a part of someone's life forever.
‘Free’ tattoos for Diamond Supply, Thrasher, and RIPNDIP were the craziest with lines out the door! Even after I’ve finished my limit of 10-20 people, they would still stick around hoping to get tattooed!
I’ve worked with Aaron Kai a lot since I met him and Kaemi a few years back. So many of our supporters have shown their love by getting custom ‘wave’ designs inked on them forever.
I met Miss Lawn a while back when I was trying to intern for HLZBLZ for graphic design. Over the years, I really got to know her more through tattooing and having little tattoo parties at her HQ.
So happy to say I will be starting 2017 in a new location at the Hellz Bellz Headquarters. I will be relocating my office into her warehouse in DTLA. I’m so thankful for her to welcome me into her space. Lanie is amazing!
LESLIE: You’ve started a new job tell us about it.
Since I started having financial issues with LAFILM and dedicated my time towards tattooing instead, I haven't been able to get my foot back in the film industry.
However, I’m excited to say I was hired to storyboard for an upcoming film. I'm working with director/producer, Val Hill (associated with Alcon Entertainment) who has recently helped produce the new 'Blade Runner' film. I’m also working closely with producer Billy Badalato who last worked on the most recent 'Transformers' film, 'The Last Knight.'
As a storyboard artist, I basically sit with Val and Billy drawing each scene of the movie, moment by moment.
I'm even more stoked to have been given the opportunity to travel with them to film in Budapest and assist on-set in their art department this coming April! The topic of the movie is close to heart and will definitely be a part of my life forever.
I’m very happy to finally pursue a career in this industry again. It was number one to me until I started tattooing.
LESLIE: This is probably an obvious answer, but one we ask everyone: Where do you feel most SUSPEND-ed?
Definitely when I am drawing in general. Sometimes I’ll be drawing all night and realize the sun came up already... and I still won't sleep!! Tattooing also gets me in the zone. Timothy (my boyfriend) always tells me that even after I'm done tattooing late at night, I'm still in this weird, still-focused daze.
Interview by Leslie Corpuz
Photography by Diane Abapo