Inkerviews > Tattoo Artists > Katelyn Crane Interview


Inkerviews features the work of tattoo artists and collectors, as well as fine artists, in a series of interviews. With an exciting lineup already in place and endless more to come, I hope you will check back often to read about these incredible people and enjoy their visually stunning talents.

Katelyn Crane. Remember the name, because it's my opinion that you will be hearing a lot more about her as she progresses and shares her work with the world.
There are two distinctive things about Katelyn that I noticed many years ago when we first met. The first, was a beautiful little book crammed full of colorful artwork that she always carried with her and added to constantly. It contained designs, characters, words and a swirling, whirling creative mind bursting to life through the pages that bound it together. Her carefully sharpened colored art pencils were like treasures to her and those tools were her connection to the stories that she had to tell.
The second memory that will always resonate with me are words that she spoke. When having a discussion about the future, success, wealth, and how those things inevitably change a person, she was told, "Well, when you are rich and famous in the art world, you will see things differently.“ She shook her head and replied, "I don't want to be rich; I just want a place to make my art and share it with the people that I love."

Well, you know me ... that hooked me right there and though I had already taken notice, solidified the notion of just how special she was. Loving what you do and having the desire to share it in a positive way, defines success in my book; and Katelyn already had that lesson figured out.

Having apprenticed with realism maestro, Mike DeVries, Katelyn is certainly beginning her journey within the tattoo industry as a student of one of the best-of-the-best. By learning the craft of transforming the artwork that she loves so much onto the skin canvas, she has set out to make her mark. And she always arrives ready to tackle each project with an optimistic attitude and a smile.

I had a chance to talk to Katelyn, who tattoos in Northridge at DeVries' shop MD Tattoo Studio, and sneak a glimpse into her past and her dreams for the future.

You are an amazing artist, with such a unique flair and style. Did your dedication to drawing and painting lead you to the tattoo world?
My dedication to beautiful things drew me to the tattoo world. The idea of putting art on my body, being able to keep mementos of what was special with me everywhere, and have it directly represent who I am, got me hooked at age thirteen.

Art in general got me excited. I liked knowing that I was looking at a piece of the artist’s heart in everything they did. They had this magic ability to show you what they were feeling and even if for just a minute, give you the ability to feel the same way. I wanted to make people feel like that. Art class turned into my sanctuary and I started thinking in terms of colors, tones and shades; and I knew I had to do something with it.

You apprenticed under Mike DeVries.  Can you tell us a little about that journey? How it all came about and what it was like learning from him?
I met mike through a friend of a friend. He did my first two tattoos and introduced me to my new drug - ink. I knew I wanted to do something with art and my teacher had every art school in the country send me a pamphlet so I could choose my future. I hate computers and they hate me, and graphic design is the main focus at those schools nowadays. There weren't too many options with fine arts, career-wise, so I became a waitress.

I think fate brought me to Mike. My boyfriend at the time had apprenticed under Mike right before, and he had the confidence in me that I could do it. I saved my pennies and came to him with a humble heart and the yearn to learn.

So many tattooists I’ve met tell me horror stories of their apprenticeships; the things they've had to do to earn the right to this life. I consider myself blessed. Mike took me in as a student, not a shop bitch (as they are commonly referred to, I have discovered). He showed me everything he knew and let me in on the world as he saw it. He pushed me and always wanted me to do better, no matter how good I thought I did.

It’s what drives me today. I still have that little voice in the back of my head that my goal for each tattoo is to have it be the best tattoo I’ve ever done.

I have always loved the way you see the world and the take you have on quirky aspects that most people don't even notice. How would you describe your outlook on life and do you think that influences the artwork that you create?

Man, oh man, my outlook on life is what makes me love everyday. I think there are a lot of people that go through the day and just survive it. They spend their entire lives hoping tomorrow will be better and then once a year it hits them how old they are getting. How they feel time is passing them by. They wish for yesterday and go through the “shoulda woulda couldas.” Then they wake up the next morning and go back to surviving. I never want to do that.

Every day was given to me as a gift and I am expected to do something with it. Things are supposed to happen tragically sometimes. That way, when something amazing happens, we have the ability to appreciate it. Everybody has something to say and I look for the best thing about every person I meet, appreciate them for it and try to apply it to myself.

Every day is a learning process, and I think everything I do is driven from that. My art is a reflection of what I would like people to feel when they see it. To appreciate the little things that I notice and love.

Can you tell me about your insects with hats project?

Have you ever seen insect macro photography? Bugs are amazing. They are a direct example of the little things that we see everyday and forget to appreciate. My dad loves bugs and we aren't allowed to kill them at my house, so my tolerance for them mandatorily had to grow. As it did, my dad’s love for them, and my love for him, made me look at them as little friends, not just pesky little buggers. Their complexity is so perplexing to me. I’m not sure where the hat idea came from, other than the fact that if you see a bug with headgear on it’s impossible to be somber about it. You have to smile. And I love making people smile about something that usually makes them shudder. I’m  trying to build a portion of my portfolio that consists of them; as many bug with hat tattoos that I can muster. A little reward for me to be excited about in between every other tattoo that I do.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?
Every time I set goals for myself they end up being unrealistic or change when I accomplish something. My goal this year is to make my voice heard. I want to make Mike, Jeff and Josh (all artists at her shop) proud of me. I’m so new to this world and I look up to the three of them so much. To have them stoked on my growth as an artist gives me the initiative to do it. I have a bucket list that I keep with me at all times too. I know it’s early, but it gives me more time to accomplish what is on it.

What is your favorite sweet treat (because I owe you a vegan version of one for doing this interview for me)? =)

Jinxi, you are my favorite sweet treat and I know there’s a vegan version of that you can bring. =) Now all we need is for you to come to the shop more often. Oh, and rice crispy treats are a very distant second.

*You can check out more of Katelyn's beautiful work on her myspace page.

Last updated on November 20, 2009 by Jinxi Boo