As a tattooed geek, I like to express my insides on the outside. After all, if I’m going to be flaunting my geek flag, I want to do it everywhere. However, not every artist focuses on the color work and styles that align to geek personalities.
When Tommy’s Tattoo Convention in Hartford, CT started posting artists, I knew that I needed to do some solid research to find the right artist to match my personality. Scrolling through the links to Instagram accounts, I lucked out by finding Bejutattoo. Her brightly colored Pokemon tattoos spoke to my nerd soul, and her profile sealed the deal. Of course, as part of my GeekMom coverage, I have to do research. Painful though tattoos are, I was ready to take one for the team.
Working with Bejutattoo
I’m not new to the tattoo rodeo. Over the years, I’ve been inked by several artists from a variety of places, including a Lucasfilm Certified artist when I went to Boston Comic Con in 2017. However, I’ll be upfront with you. I’m the whitest suburban white girl in the world. Despite sporting green hair and almost two full sleeves worth of ink, I never feel comfortable walking into a tattoo shop.
Bejutattoo, whose real name is Aarika, made me incredibly comfortable. We emailed a bit before the convention to discuss what I wanted, and her general kindness and openness made the whole process about as painless as possible—figuratively and literally. When my miscommunications led to a rework of the design, she not only accommodated me but made me feel comfortable asking for changes, something not every artist does. As an attorney with anxiety that presents as anger, She-Hulk speaks to my soul. Sending Bejutattoo my post, she reconfigured the entire design and found a reference piece that matched my personality, making the whole process fun and leading to the perfect ink.
As someone who has more tattoos than I can count now, I also need to give a major shout-out to her for her gentleness. Her ability to control the tattoo gun without going too deep or not deep enough has made the healing process, as well as the inking process, more comfortable than usual.
Where does Bejutattoo get her inspiration?
As part of any artist interview, I always like to ask where they get their inspiration. For Beju, it comes from the clients. She explained, “I like tattooing because it lets me get in the heads of others—what they do and like—which inspires my art.” In fact, when we discussed my tattoo, I shared with her an article I’d written upon which I based my design decisions. Her ability to translate my thoughts and reference pieces into a personalized work truly amazed me.
How Bejutattoo got into the field
When I asked Beju how she got into tattooing, she responded, “Luck. When I first graduated from high school, I wanted to be a comic book writer or movie monster creator.” As a recent high school graduate, she went to a local tattoo shop with her work. Five days later, she started tattooing. Even though she originally wanted to create her own comic books, rather than work for one of the Big Two, she explained, “looking back now, knowing what I do? This is what I’m meant to do.”
What’s the hardest part of being a tattoo artist?
Bejutattoo is open and honest that the most difficult part of the job is knowing that whatever she does is permanent. She explained, “Seeing weakness and accepting it is the hardest part. It’s definitely scary when you first start, but not nearly as scary as realizing you did a permanent procedure and f—ed up.”
Perhaps for some artists, this doesn’t feel daunting. As she noted, “it’s only as hard as you make it.” However, Aarika openly admits that she’s a bit of a perfectionist. Additionally, she’s always looking to learn more to enhance her art.
She’s currently learning about Renaissance art so she can apply it to tattooing. She likes “that they use blue and purple for skin tones. They use colors to trick your eye.” How does she plan to apply this to her work? “Animated realism gives you a lot more freedom of expression.”
Animated realism, a newer artform based on incorporating digital animation technology to make art more realistic, is a perfect segue for Bejutatto. An excellent geeky example of animated realism can be found on the Deviant Art website for Arvalis, who designed the “Realistic Pokemon” series that’s made the rounds on social media.
Moreover, Bejutattoo loves to push herself and explore subjects and techniques about which she knows little. Most of the Pokemon tattoos on her Instagram are pocket monsters she doesn’t like because it means she has to research them more and learn more.
Is there a difference between digital art tools and paper?
When asked this question, she gave a resounding yes. While Bejutattoo prefers to use digital tools for tattoo creation, she does so mainly because it saves time. She explained, “I’m providing a service. Using an iPad means that service is done faster. Using it as a tool makes me better at what I do.”
However, she also notes emphatically, “everyone needs to get started using pen and paper. They feel different. That feeling is important to creating art. To me, it feels like home.”
While Aarika prefers to do personal art with traditional supplies rather than digital tools, she also has very little time to work independently. In fact, she explained that when she’s posting on social media, people often come in wanting the same type of designs from her for a while. For example, after posting some black and gray art, she found clients coming in regularly for that type of design. This stream of similarity can lead to losing skills or getting in an artistic funk. She explained, “after three months of doing black and gray work, someone comes in asking for full color. I have to stop a minute and remind myself how to do it.”
Of course, full-color work is pretty much her major jam. As my new ink suggests, it’s also definitely her strength. The color blending and shadowing of the various greens to create muscle tone create depth and nuance. Rather than a single flat green, the colors blend and do trick the eye into seeing depth.
What is Bejutattoo currently geeking out about?
As a kid, her dad loved Thor, so she read most of those growing up. Currently, she digs Punisher for being an antihero with depth.
She prefers comic books and anime while describing herself as a gamer. Looking around her station at the convention, I noticed a plethora of Nintendo and Pokemon paraphernalia. She explained that she “nerds out most about Mario and Pokemon, but probably Mario more because it was her first video game.”
She also described herself as an “OG Pokemaster.” No, she doesn’t play Pokemon Go, but her favorite handheld game is Pokemon Red or Blue. While she did play the card game while younger, she’s given that up. And, when asked her most valuable card from her former collection (long sold), she remembered having a first edition holographic Dark Charizard.
Although she doesn’t play first-person shooters, she loves the Ark MMO for Xbox, Mario or Kirby for Nintendo, and Crash Bandicoot for Playstation.
So, what is the tattooing community like?
It’s a ‘’very open and caring community.” As she noted, she likes to put out into the world kindness, and clearly, she does it well. Throughout my three hour session, a variety of other artists came to the station to speak with her.
No matter who approached her station, Bejutattoo welcomed them like family. Arrika puts out into the world the positive vibe and “then the good things start coming back.” As we discussed the rest of her weekend plans, she told me she planned a “family dinner” for Sunday night.