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Artist Spotlight: Abby Drielsma

What is your creative process like?

I often spend an hour or so doing initial research and gathering reference, then start with a rough sketch using mechanical pencil on tracing paper, before retracing it with a liner once I’m happy. At this stage I scan the line work into my Mac for stencil purposes, and resize/flip to provide several options for my client. Finally, I render my design completely in led (which best mimics my tattoo shading). I’ve never been interested in switching to digital drawings on an iPad as I enjoy this creative process so much, and the feeling of led/pen on paper. I like the sentiment of not being able to delete and re-do mistakes, much like an actual tattoo and I think that this traditional process is fast becoming a lost art in the industry.

My tattoos are created using mostly coil machines with fine lines, mag shading, and lots of variations of grey wash and black to achieve maximum contrast while still looking delicate.

What inspires you to create tattoo


I draw inspiration from lots of sources but my main stylistic influences come from traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e, renaissance paintings, antique engravings, mythology and religious iconography.

How do you approach creating a

new piece of art?

My tattoos are mostly a custom collaboration between my clients’ ideas and my own creative process. Once the subject matter has been given to me, I begin by trying to envisage what will or won’t work regarding the idea, placement and size. This often involves a conversation where I suggest in which way we could achieve the best results, sometimes via changing certain things in order for the artwork to translate to properly to a tattoo. Placement has always been extremely important to me and I always want to make sure my designs will flow perfectly with the body. To ensure this, I ask my clients to send photos of the area they want their tattoo, and overlay these with tracing paper so the design can be drawn to fit and flow correctly.

What are your thoughts on the

relationship between artist and


I think this relationship is really important as without the audience their would be no artist. Specifically relating to tattooing, the process of giving someone a tattoo is a very intimate and sacred thing that should never be taken for granted. Your clients are trusting you to not only mark their body permanently but are volunteering to wear your artwork forever which is the highest compliment. From the feedback I’ve received, I think my clients and audience appreciate and respond to the amount of time and care I put into every design from sketch to skin.

We're beyond excited to have Abby contributing to all things SWALLOW! You can view more of Abbys work on her Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/abbytattoo/