The ink on Elle Audra Dabney

Elle Audra Dabney from California

Where did you grow up?
San Diego, California.

How was it growing up there, would you say that it influenced you?
I loved growing up in San Diego! It is such a diverse place to live. The people are very relaxed and open-minded. It has definitely had an influence of my lifestyle and personality.

When did you start getting tattoos?
I got my first tattoo when I was 18. I was my brother's 'guinea pig' when he was learning how to tattoo.

How would you describe your style?
My personal style varies on my mood. I can go from casual, to girly, to business all in the same day. My tattoo styles that I enjoy are more whimsical and artsy.

Do you consider tattoos as a serious art form?
Of course tattoos are a serious art form. The whole process itself is an art: from choosing the piece style, to making the sketch, to the stencil, to the application and the overall end process. Tattoo itself inspires emotion, not only in the bearer, but in the people who see it. 

How do you see the tattoo culture right now?
I think the tattoo culture is booming. Tattoos are becoming more accepted in the workplace as well as in every day society. 

What has been your inspiration for getting them?
Each tattoo has been inspired by a point in my life. My back piece represents the struggle that I had maintaining my individualism while serving in the Marine Corps. 

What’s your favorite piece?
My favorite piece is my owl holding a heart on fire. 

Do you catch people starring at you because of your ink?
Yes I do, but I don't mind as long as they aren't a grabber (people who grab at your body to see your tattoo better and think it’s acceptable).

In your opinion, do your tattoos change your mood often?
I'd like to think that they just make me analyze myself and my life. 

What’s your most significant tattoo and why?
My back piece is definitely the most significant. It has two koi fish, one pretty one swimming with the current and one tattered one swimming against the current.

The bottom Chinese characters read: Honor, Courage, Commitment; representing the Marine Corps mantra.
The top Kanji reads: Love, Tranquility and Happiness, which represent my goals in life. My five years in the Marine Corps was a continuous battle between the two, I felt like I was being pushed from my goals and individualism, but I believed in my job and the pride I felt for it.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
A couple of things:
1. Make sure your tattoo has LASTING meaning.
2. If you're scared of the pain then purchase the tattoo numbing spray so it's a less traumatic experience for you.

Will you be getting anymore?
I will definitely be getting more. I plan on finishing my left sleeve and a large hip piece.

What’s your biggest inspiration, what keeps you going?
My brother Mike is a big inspiration for me. I go into his tattoo shop (Good Neighbor Tattoo, Escondido, CA) and I see all his art and tattoo work. It's amazing watching someone do something they love for a living.

What is one thing that life has taught you?
Life has taught me that the little stuff doesn't matter. All that matters is your happiness and the love you surround yourself with. Being and loving yourself is the way to start.

Do you have a favorite quote?
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find how you yourself have altered.

Anything else you would like to add?