Robia Fleming


 

How long have you been tattooing and how did you start your tattooing journey?

 

I have been tattooing for 12 years in Southern California. My journey, so far has been fun and interesting, I became associated with the world of tattooing when I was only 13. My high school best friend’s father, Gill Montie was a very well-known tattooer in California. I would hang out at her dad’s shop throughout my teenage years and loved watch Mark Mahoney tattoo. I ended up going down a couple different career paths before becoming a tattooer myself. In my early 20’s I was invited to learn piercing by Kathy Montie, so I began my journey to becoming a tattoo artist as a piercer. I then learned how to apply permanent make up a few years later. It wasn’t until I opened up my own studio that I started tattooing which was around 2009.

 


 

Do you remember what was the first tattoo you did? If so, tell us what it was and for who.

 

The first tattoo I ever did was of a little kanji on my own body, my right ankle, it was about 3 years before I started tattooing on a regular basis

 


 

Please, tell us about your current tattoo style and how it has changed over the years.

 

My current style has so many variations. I guess if I had to give it an overall title, I would call it pseudo realistic. Or I would even call it color painted style. I love designs that have a realistic quality combined with an artistic point of view. I love things that have texture, like fabric and hair, I love anything nature related, like animals and plants and nature scenes. I enjoy doing both black and gray or color and I love to mix the two together. I love doing coverup work too. There is something so rewarding about taking a tattoo that someone doesn’t like and turning it into a tattoo that they love.

My style and quality of work has definitely changed over the years. When I first started tattooing I would only do simple things that I knew I could execute well, it took me a few more years to gain the skill and the confidence to take on the more elaborate tattoos that I do today.

 


 

Does anyone or anything inspire you?

 

Lol, I think everyone, and everything inspires me. From amazing artists to not so amazing artists. I pull inspiration from anywhere I can find it but most recently I would say I’m inspired by nurseries and gardens. I think I am always learning and growing, and I think we all do that by watching and learning from one another and through what we see. There are a lot of artists whose work I love for so many different reasons and then there are artists that I love because of their story. Most of the time I simply love it all. Because of this I can never seem to pick a favorite anything, I love too many things for so many reasons and to pick just one or even three favorites of anything … well it’s impossible.

 


 

Are there any tattoo artists who are extremely admirable to you? If so who?

 

The short answer is yes but once again there are so many for so many reasons, it would be an hour conversation for me to share who and why. Phil Garcia,  Reese Hilburn I love her outlook on the industry. Chris Rigonit love his mashed-up style of photo realism and geometric shapes and Sam Taylor’s lettering is amazing, but there are so many more.  

 


 

Do you have any memorable tattoo story or a customer that has stuck with you through all the time you have been tattooing?

 

Probably my husband, I have been tattooing for 12 years I have been with him for 10. Being able to see the quality of my work get better on him over the years has been really interesting. Even if we have only found time for a sleeve and a quarter over those 10 years, lol.

 


 

Is there any art form that fascinates you also except tattooing? Maybe do you have any other passion or something that you really enjoy doing? 

 

I have a lot, I love plants and gardening. I have really gotten into collecting and caring for rare houseplants. I also grow my own roses for tattoo reference. I love refurbishing furniture and repurposing items into things that they were never intend to be.  I love macrame and looming. Which, I have very little time to do but it’s a very meditative art form for me, oh and gardening, did I mention plants?

 


 

Do you like visiting or exhibiting at tattoo conventions? Would you recommend any of them?

 

I love tattoo conventions. I grew up going to them as a teenager. I have only done a few when I first started tattooing but I decided for many years to not do many so I could stay close to my young children. Now that my girls are almost grown, I am really excited to get back out there and start traveling. I definitely plan on working many conventions over the next few years once we can. 

 


 

Any artist you planning to get tattooed by? Who has tattooed you already?

 

I have been tattooed by few people over the years, Mark Mahoney, Frank ball, Ticho Veldohen, Shane Montie, Kat von D, Randy Jensen, and quite a few more.. I am planning on having Ivan Aleman do a chest piece for me in the near future.

 


 

What are your plans and dreams? If you think about yourself in 10 years, what do you see?

 

I don’t totally know but I’m excited,lol. I am currently working on an informative podcast series called ‘Who Asked You Tattoo’.  It answers frequently asked questions that tattoo artists are asked from their clients all he time. We’ll see where the wind blows me with that… I have had several careers in my life yet I will never leave tattooing.  I am also a certified yoga instructor so I could see myself semi-retired tattooer and running a yoga studio in the middle of a nursery in Southern California. A full experience! 

 


 

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