The ink on Kelly Eden

Kelly Eden from Denver, Colorado

Where did you grow up?
Evergreen, Colorado. 

How was it growing up there, would you say that it influenced you?
Evergreen is a small little town hidden in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It's a beautiful, lavish terrain full of lakes, lush forests, and valleys. It's an ideal place to grow up (or use as the setting for an epic adventure). It's safe, secluded, beautiful, and small. It really lives up to its name, "Evergreen".
We had a great school system, the community was really active with our education. Though at a very young age I started to recognize that I was somehow different then everyone else. I never seemed to "fit in" with everyone else. I was a black sheep that stuck out like a sore thumb. With each year I struggled more and more with school, peers, and psychological difficulties. I was teased and alienated from kindergarten all the way to high school. It wasn't until I was accepted into the Denver School of the Arts during high school that I finally fled Evergreen and joined a flock of black sheep- I was happier then ever. 
Oddly enough it's the people in Evergreen that doubted me who influence me to do everything that I do. There’s something about proving someone wrong that makes success so much sweeter.

When did you start getting tattoos?
I started when I was 18 years old.... 
Honestly I never even wanted any tattoos to begin with. I always thought, "that's not for me". I had even been working in a tattoo shop for a few months and had dozens of free tattoos offered to me. But I never thought twice about getting one (though many of my co-workers and friends nagged me to do it). Maybe I still had the Evergreen mentality "Look different = get excluded". 
Anyway, I remember the day I knew I had to have a tattoo- It was a slow day at the shop and one of the artists showed me a stack of tattoo magazines he had stashed away. I flipped through for a while, when suddenly- BOOM! I saw the new wave of hyper realistic portraiture tattoos and I was hooked. A few months later I flew out to California to the very first MUSINK convention to get my first tattoo. 

How would you describe your style?
A Hyper realistic renduring of reflective light and color (and magic). 

Do you consider tattoos as a serious art form?
Tattoos are as serious as the user takes them. Art is here to enrich our daily lives. Just because it's part of a different genre that doesn't fit the "norm" of society doesn't make it any less important. 
Andy Warhol once said, "An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have." That’s all art is, it's an object made to enrich our daily lives. This kind of art just happens to be on a living, breathing Canvas. No one NEEDS to have a tattoo, it's not a necessity of life and it is quite useless. We get tattooed because we can, because we want to. That’s part of the beauty of having tattoos. It's all a choice and a commitment that we make in the name of art. It's a form of self expression for the artist and the person receiving the tattoo. In this way, body modifications are a collaboration between the artist and the person being modified. I could go on and on about the meaning behind body modifications, but what I think doesn't matter, I have my own meaning and so does everyone else. Body art only means something to the person that has them. No one else matters. 
"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known." - Oscar Wilde 

How do you see the tattoo culture right now?
It's based around pop culture, It's the trendy, "fashionable" thing to do nowadays. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. A Body Modification is one of the only truly selfish things we can do to ourselves. We willingly and purposely put ourselves through pain to express our personal identity. Modifying our body makes us outlaws, it captures attention wherever we go. It's a brave move that enables us to make a statement. 
I'm not saying it’s a bad thing to be selfish, I think it’s really beautiful action. It's important to be selfish sometimes. To me it’s about a desire for one to express themselves, to record the actions in their life, or define their personality and unique selves to the world they live in. Somehow it affirms their individuality. In this case, I think the most beautiful part of each picture is the frame. 
That’s all tattoos are... They’re art. 

What has been your inspiration for getting them?
My life, my adventures, my inspirations, my loved ones.... and unicorns.

What’s your favorite piece?
That’s a hard question. That's like asking which of my children is my favorite (Not that I have any kids- but you get the idea). 
When it comes down to it my Barbie portrait is my favorite tattoo. I love looking at her, she's beautiful! It’s one of my favorite memories growing up and she still remains an important figure in my life. It's almost like having my security blanket tattooed on my arm, but at the same time she's a simple reminder of what a strong woman I know I am.

Do you catch people starring at you because of your ink?
People stare at me for a lot of reasons: Pink hair, piercings, tattoos, weird clothes, dark makeup, boobs, ass.... you know.
I'm so used to people staring, I hardly notice it anymore. I don't mind them staring, what’s the point of having tattoos if no one gets to look at them?
Usually people will ask (if they take the time to stare at it long enough). It's interesting to see how people react to them and hearing the meaning behind them. I've shared the most personal and treasured stories of my life with hundreds of strangers I've met for 10 seconds because of my tattoos. 

In your opinion, do your tattoos change your mood often?
Well, it sure changes the way people look at me and treat me. Oddly enough I've found that to be empowering and motivating. So maybe it doesn't change me as a person, it just changes the space around me.

What’s your most significant tattoo and why?
On my shoulder I have the first edition Easy Bake Oven Box from 1964. My mom is actually the little girl on the box; she was in the commercials when she was 5 years old.
My mom lived a hard life growing up and she still fights like hell to support her family. She's the most amazing woman in the world to me and I love her more then anything else on this planet. This is my tribute to her. 

What’s your next tattoo?
I Think I'll be getting my Unicorn tattooed on my inner arm to complete my sleeve (and to finally gain all of my magical powers). 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
First of all, you have to KNOW what you want. Don't let that needle touch your skin until you have a flawless design that you're in love with. Don't bother getting something tattooed unless you can't live without it. A tattoo is a permanent mark that represents YOU and your journey. It's an illustration that's attached to you for the remainder of your life. 
Second; this is YOUR body- no one else’s. Don't brand yourself with someone else’s name. It doesn't matter if it's your child, a fallen friend, or someone you love. I'm not saying that you shouldn't get tattoos in tribute of your loved ones. There's a big difference between getting a name and getting an image of something that represents them. It shows you took the time to think of something that details your connection with them. Remember, a tattoo is art, not a labeling tool.
See life not only as your creation, but as your mirror.

What is one thing that life has taught you?
You are entirely the creator of your reality. Not just partly—all of it. You create it with your thoughts, feelings and beliefs. 
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you are probably right.”
What you think becomes you, what you feel follows you, what you believe builds around you.

Will you be getting anymore?
Oh, yes. I have a long wish list of tattoos I want and it's getting longer every day. 
I love getting tattooed, almost as much as I love my unicorn. 

Do you have a favorite quote?
Vincent Van Gogh. Everyone said to him, "You can't be a great painter, you only have one ear." And you know what he said? "I can't hear you."

Anything else you would like to add?
It's not about the light at the end of the tunnel. Forget about it, and stop trying to get there as fast as you can. 
The tunnel is where it's at. Experience it.