Hey hi, I'm Maia. Here's a (big) little story about how I ended up at Tough n' Tender.

I did my first tattoo at 13 -- a friend and I had stolen some India Ink from the art supply shelf at school and went back to her house to poke little hearts onto our hips with sewing needles covered in sut from our misguided attempt at sterilizing. They turned out awful, and we were endlessly proud.

From there, I slowly started to draw more, I continued to poke myself and my friends with sewing needles and inks that probably shouldn't be put under skin, and at 18 I finally bought my first machine from one of the guys at my local tattoo shop. I'd gotten a tattoo from them before, and as far as they were concerned it was my second year of being 18. The only difference being that now I didn't have to "forget my ID" whenever I went there.

Soon after buying my little coil machine, I moved into an old 508 bus on a farm. I spent my days tattooing fruits, foraging and learning to recognize different plants.
I would draw them to understand them. I practiced tattooing off of those drawings, filling my legs and the legs of close friends with nettles and dandelions and chamomile. I grew to love tattooing as I started to really understand skin, bodies, designs, and my machine.
My style of drawing (and tattooing) evolved out of learning to understand bodies and plants -- when I become interested in a topic or subject my default way of connecting with it is to draw it. Once I feel like I understand it, I can play with shapes and try to stretch them away from reality without losing the elements that make the subjects what they are. At some point, they become tattoo designs.

It feels like all of the sudden, six years have passed and now I'm a part of Tough n' Tender, getting to tattoo people every day and sustain myself off of my drawings -- it's hard to fathom the luck I've had that's brought me to this point.

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