I describe myself as an anarchist, feminist and nature and animal activist. Solidarity and being collectively together and the idea that another world is possible always gives me strength. I strongly believe that the personal achievements I have made so far are based on this approach.
Of course, the genetic talent I have for painting is also another factor that has had a strong effect on my success. Because I would not have begun making tattoos if I did not have any talent and familiarity about it.
My story began in 2000 by renting a little shop in Avsa Island to sell books and accessories. Back then, there were no more than 10 tattoo artists in Turkey. I was aware that there were only 3 or 4 tattoo artists in Istanbul in those days. I took my first steps with temporary tattoos and permanent make up. But shortly after that I realised that what I wanted to do was only permanent tattoos. By being engaged with permanent tattoos, the tattoo artists would constantly test their limits, take risks, and compete with themselves to do their best. Without a doubt there is also a secret rivalry among colleagues, but it was rather a positive rivalry that really got me excited. My jealousy has always been in a positive direction, in the sphere of solidarity and cooperation.
I have had studios in Avsa Island, Fethiye Oludeniz, Nisantasi and Besiktas in chronological order.
Afterwards, I followed international tattoo conventions and carried my experience with me abroad by being a participant in these international tattoo conventions. I was a participant in important conventions in various countries, such as Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, I was the first woman tattoo artists from Turkey that participated in certain conventions; ‘Dutch Ladies Tattoo Convention 2014’ in Harlem, Holland and also ‘Lady Ink Days 2017’ in Berlin, Germany.
I moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. In South Africa, particularly The Soweto Tattoo Convention greatly contributed to my experience on working black skin.
In 2017 my book ‘Rebellion on Skin’ which researched tattoos on imprisoned women was published. The main styles I enjoy to work in are black shadowed realistic and watercolour but, in addition to these, I have experience with many other styles.
Tattoo art is sometimes directly related to harmony between the tattoo artist; one who makes the tattoo and the people who are getting the tattoo on their bodies. Therefore, it’s beneficial to have information about the style, methods, and character of the tattoo artist before you get a tattoo. The right harmony between the customer and the tattoo artist has a direct affect on the quality of the tattoo you will have. Lastly, I want to add that we carry on our works as Amazon Dövme in a studio run by myself and my husband Jonathan Payn in Besiktas, Istanbul.
Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was born and spent most of my life – when I wasn’t traveling abroad – I moved to Istanbul in early 2020.
Although I only started learning to tattoo after I moved to Turkey, where I am being trained by and am learning from Nimet Arıkan, I have been fascinated by tattoo art for as long as I can remember and have been collecting tattoos since the day I turned 18 (and was legally allowed to do so). I have been directly involved in the tattoo industry since 2017, when I started working as an assistant for Nimet Arıkan at international tattoo conventions, in South Africa, Germany and Thailand, and at various tattoo studios in Istanbul.
I have an artistic background and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in South Africa, where I worked in the television industry for over 10 years – first as a video editor and then as a graphic designer, illustrator and 2D animator. This experience definitely helped me develop my talent as a creative person, but working in a corporate environment and for a capitalist boss that didn’t care about the well-being of his workers became unbearable because of my anarchist political orientation and desire to be free and independent.
I have carried my anarchist ethics with me into my work as a tattooer and choose not to do a tattoo if I think it is beyond my skill level, if I have an ethical problem with the subject matter (anything racist/fascist or sexist, for example) or if I feel the customer is arrogant and disrespectful of our studio, the artists and our profession. This has meant that I may have progressed a bit more slowly as a tattooer than I could have, and meant less income for myself and the studio in the short term, but I strongly feel that my work as a tattooer must be consistent with my ethics and world view. There are far too many tattoo artists that will do any job, regardless of the subject matter or whether they have the appropriate skill level, just to make money and a name for themselves.
Contrary to this, I hope to build my clientele based on an honest and ethical approach, and to attract people who want to get a tattoo by me based on this and because they like the work I do and want to help me develop my talent.
The main style I am interested in practicing and developing at the moment is American traditional and old school, although I do dot work and small/minimal tattoos as well. In the future I would like to progress to neo-traditional.