About.Com's April 2008 Featured Artist:
Pat Fish has long been renowned across the globe as one of the most talented Celtic tattoo artists. Her personal connection with Irish culture and knowledge of its symbolism, as well as her steady hand and talented artistry, make her a top choice for anyone wanting a Celtic tattoo.
How You Became Interested in Tattoos:
I turned 30 and wanted to choose my life career, and decided I wanted to do art full time. Tattooing seemed to me like the most honest way to do that. I particularly savor the fact that it is always unique, custom, and done one by one in collaboration with the recipient. It is a skill that can never be replaced by mechanization or mass- production, and has a tradition as old as human civilization.
When You Started Tattooing Professionally:
Favorite Tattoo Style/Genre:
I've always specialized in Celtic and Pictish art, bringing the intricate knotwork interlaces of the ancient illuminated manuscripts and carved standing stones to life in skin.
Contemporary Artists Who Inspire You:
Unnamed stonemasons and monks who brought visions of interlocking spirals and bridle-woven-leather into the fine complex and mysterious art of the Celts and Picts. Tattoo Artists Who Inspire You:
My mentor Cliff Raven, because he was my first example of how to interact with the client to draw out from them their dreams and desires, and so to correctly express their inner aesthetics. And Lyle Tuttle, who did the first tattoo I ever saw being done, and made it look too easy! He somehow retains a bemused worldview despite the logic of carny cynicism.
In recent years I have taken up enthusiasm for a dream long-deferred and become an equestrienne. On the days when I am not tattooing I am often found riding my mule, on mountain trails and beaches, enjoying the landscapes of the stunningly beautiful place I live in. It is the perfect antidote for the indoor close-focus hyper-vigilant Celtic tattoos that I find challenging and exhausting. Alternating human contact with animal companionship enriches my life, and inspires my art.
It may be because I have a hard time remembering faces that I find tattoos so helpful. I see them as a profound clue to the nature of the soul of the wearer. By choosing to work with Celtic patterns, I find myself pleased to interact with the people who are attracted to get work from me. I have an aversion to demonic or death images, and a commitment to assist my clients in making life-positive choices that will strengthen them in their ethnic and personal identities. In a society that increasingly promotes the false individuality of the herd mentality, tattoos still stand apart as the individuating mark. They can be jewelry that cannot be lost or stolen, or they can be the badge of allegiance to clan or country. But they will always be what turns a jackass into a zebra . . .