Creating from the Heart. Meet Tattoo Artist: Pamela Carol Carvalho

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(photography by Jocelyn Mesiti of Lemonjam Photography)

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

Hello! I am Pamela Carol Carvalho and I work at White Tiger Tattoo in Webster, New York. I have been tattooing for three and a half years now. I have always been drawing, really for as long as I can remember, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon!

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What are you passionate about? What makes you tick?

I am very passionate about giving people something that they can be proud of. Something that makes them feel better about themselves, more accepting of their bodies. I love to create. It’s like water to me. It’s something that gives me a sense of life, brings me alive, and without it I feel a sense of drought. If I wasn’t tattooing I would at the very least be continuing to draw, paint, or do whatever I can to have a creative outlet.

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How did you get started? What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?

People always ask me if I always knew I wanted to be a tattoo artist, and the funny thing is that It never crossed my mind. I was a week away from going to cosmetology school when an opportunity to be a tattoo apprentice presented itself. It really just fell into my lap and I consider it a directional gift from God. That isn’t to say the road was easy because it was very difficult. I was working alongside guys who had a very traditional style, and I do not think that way artistically, so they would question the design choices I would make very early on. Tattooing has a very long learning curve and it is very difficult to keep discouragement at bay.

What is your biggest regret?

I regret caring too much what my coworkers thought of me and seeking so much of their validation. It got me in some pretty awful situations and only caused me to lose site of who I was. Yes, I learned from it, but I could have done without the difficulties I created for myself.

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What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?

Finding your own voice takes time. Be patient with yourself. I think everyone struggles with comparing their own work with someone else’s. It’s so important to remember that there will always be someone better than you. The only thing that matters is that you’re doing something that you love and you are sharing it with other humans. The minute you start abandoning your own heart and start creating in order to get more likes, comments, followers, praise from other people, that is when you will burn out. Numbers don’t matter. People change and their adoration is fickle. Create for you. Create because it’s a way to turn feelings into something tangible that you can share. Create because it makes life a little more bearable. Create because you’re putting life back into the world.

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(Lettering byAndrea Burke)

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What inspires you? How do you recharge creatively?

I am definitely the type of human that needs “me time.” I have to get rid of the busy distractions and go somewhere to just be. Taking time away from busy work is equally as important to me as the work itself. Prayer, tea, family time, walks, all of the peaceful things that help me rest in order to go back to being a creative machine.

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What is the most challenging part of running your business?

Being a people pleaser makes my job quite challenging for me because I would love to make everyone happy, but the truth is that I can’t even come close. I am only one person and after having my daughter I am limited to 3 and a half days of work a week. I receive many emails and requests to book tattoos and my heart wants to say yes to everyone and to tattoo them tomorrow, but alas I cannot. Figuring out how to manage my time, when to open or close my calendar, and when to say no have been the biggest challenge. Some people are not very kind when they feel they aren’t getting something they deserve and at times that can hurt.

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What is your favorite part of what you do?

I adore being able to give someone a new reason to love their body. To give someone something they can carry with them that reminds them of a loved one, an encouragement, a push forward. It is the most humbling part of what I get to do.

Name some local creatives/business owners that you really admire.

Most assuredly my boss TeeJay DillofWhite Tiger Tattoo. She has overcome so much and I admire her greatly. I will always have something to learn from her. I also quite adore Ashley Landon of Knotty Owl. She works very hard and it’s so evident in her work.

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