Erika Stanley; Art & Soul Gallery and Tattoos:

Erika, working her magic.

Erika Stanley (48) is the proud owner and founder of Art & Soul Tattoo in Los Angeles California. The studio has been open since 1996 and still runs in the best of order today. After having tattooed for many years (24 to be precise), she has been all over the world. But there is one place she fell in love with more than anywhere else, Copenhagen, DK.

We will get  into Erika and Copenhagen more later on. For now let us introduce you to this awesome artist.
Erika is originally from Hawaii, where she grew up and spent her childhood, together with her supportive parents.

Originally Erika never thought about becoming a tattoo artist. She knew however, that art was her thing. She worked very hard throughout high school and got an art scholarship to a college in LA. That’s where her journey really kicks off.

From Art and Photography To Needles and Ink:

To begin with, Erika focused on her beloved passions of art and photography. Once in LA she started getting into photographing very heavily tattooed individuals. In the late 80’s early 90’s, most really heavily tattooed people were  tattoo artists. So she began to get to know the world of tattooing and its colourful people.

The tattoo artists always got a good look, at her many pieces of art , which were hanging on her walls . A fair few of these tattoo artists were quite impressed with her skill, so they started asking her if she had thought about becoming a tattoo artist.

So in a way,  the opportunity to become a tattoo artist fell into her lap. Some of her neighbors  pigued her interest further, by talking her into going to a tattoo convention. She fell in love with the culture and art at the first ever, Ink Slingers Ball, in Hollywood.

Mike, Scott and Dean; Harleys and Tattoos:

The final push towards starting her tattoo artist journey came from her best friend Mike. Mike owned a custom Harley shop in LA, together with his partner Scott. It was through those two, that Erika met Scott’s little brother Dean, who just so happened to be a tattoo artist.

When they were introduced, Dean told Erika that he would teach her to tattoo on the condition, that she taught him how to draw like her. That was how impressed Dean was with her artwork. Not long after, Erika started to learn from him.

Dean sadly had to close down his shop, which is when Erika got a job on Melrose in Hollywood. This is where she worked as a tattoo artist for a while

Bernie the Aussie:

While working on Melrose, Erika met someone that would change her life. One day Bernie Olzewski came into the studio she worked in. He was an Australian biker from Brisbane, who was visiting the US. After talking with Erika for a bit, he invited her to come to Australia and work in his shop as a guest artist.

When she told Bernie she never had a real apprenticeship, but had merely learned to tattoo and that she wasn’t sure about her skills. Bernie offered her to apprentice under him, so Bernie taught her all the basics and more. So Erika took him up on his offer, and went to Brisbane to work at “Wild At Heart Tattoo”, which Bernie and his wife Cathy, still run today.

With what that Aussie told her, Erika could , buy a second hand watch, and use it to make needles.

Still an Artist; Now Also a Tattoo Artist:

Today, at the age of 48, Erika is opening a new studio in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. However, she is still very much so an artist and she does not want to open up just another tattoo shop. Especially since she still manages her staff in her LA studio. She wants something easier to manage in Copenhagen.

She is creating her dream mix: a tattoo studio and art gallery. She doesn’t have any staff in Copenhagen; it’s just herself running things. Her tattoo studio will be by appointment only and on the side she will display artists paintings and  occasionally her own art in her gallery. She also hopes to feature guest tattooers from around the world.

Art is and will always be a part of Erika’s life, just like tattoos . She has lived in Denmark for a while and even had a private studio in Copenhagen at one time. However, because she needs to spend even more time in Denmark, with her son growing up there and starting school in a few years, she felt it was time to set up a more permanent space, in Copenhagen.

From Rites of Passage to Art and Soul:

Erika took the opportunity, when her friend and fellow tattoo artist Alex from Rites of Passage in Copenhagen, offered her his studio. Alex decided he wanted to go and travel the world once again, being a tattoo nomad. The Brit had already spent 14 years in Copenhagen and needed to explore more.

So Erika gladly took over his studio, which is now becoming her tattoo studio and art gallery “Art & Soul Gallery and Tattoo”. A name she has trademarked from her studio in LA.

How an Island Girl Fell in Love With Denmark:

Back in the late 80’s Erika dated the pro skater Nicky Guerrero from Copenhagen.
They traveled all over Europe together and saw many great cities, but she fell completely in love with Copenhagen. She felt at home there, almost as if she had lived a past life in the Danish Capital.

Nicky and her split up after only a few months back in 1987.  Nicky’s mother, even made her promise something which she took to heart, after they split up:
“Promise you will come back to Denmark without a boyfriend and see how nice it is”.
So that is what Erika did, and boy was Nicky’s mother right.
So she still kept coming back to Denmark every summer, almost every single year after, until she moved there. She had made so many cool and awesome friends in Denmark, she couldn’t help but want to come back.

She even still knows many of the skaters she became friends with back then, even though 30 odd years have passed.

“The Smiles Make Me Rich, The Rest Just Pays The Bills”:

The above quote, is Erika’s mantra about her work as a tattoo artist. She is passionate about what she does and loves being an artist who tattoos. She is grateful for every tattoo she gets to do, thanks to her many awesome clients.

She is thankful for all her clients. Every inch of skin they give her. She can create her art through tattooing. She is able to live through her artwork and her passion.
She sees herself as fortunate and her client’s skin as a gift.

She loves that she can be friends with her clients. Together they, create dream tattoos. To Erika, it is the clients that make you the artist you are.

Colors and Details:

Erika describes her style of tattooing, as colorful and very versatile. She is heavily inspired by Asian and Oriental culture, and art.  Erika truly likes seeing the contrast between the open (non tattooed skin) within the tattoos, and the vivid, colorful tattooed skin.  She is fascinated with, the tattooed next to the non-tattooed,.

She doesn’t have a favorite style. She was trained the old-school way and can definitely tattoo any style. She loves variety. To create something new every day, in all sorts of different styles.  That is the true fun of tattooing.

She wants her studio to be about art, letting tattoo artists be artists and create quality work for the clients, pieces of art on the skin, which makes people happy.

“Not Bad For a Chick”:

The above quote was a joke Erika used to fire off as a joke, to other female tattoo artists at conventions. She loved the irony and fun in it so much; she even put it on her business cards.
In truth, she feels  being a woman in a man’s world when she started tattooing, made things easier in some way for her. She feels blessed that her path has brought her to where she is today. She is at a point where she can live from making her art.

Erika together with her good friend Sy Lee, her little son, as well as Danish Tattoo legend Tato-Svend and Svend’s wife.

We hope you enjoyed this article about the lovely Erika Stanley. If you are ever in Copenhagen, go checkout Art & Soul Tattoo and Gallery, in Federiksberg. Else, if you want more awesome articles, keep your eye on Mediazink.
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