Smiley happy tattooed people: interview with Nikko Adams

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Nikko Adams has been pretty busy lately – not only is she creating beautiful designs for clients at Dragon FX Tattoo in Edmonton, Alberta, she recently set up her own tattoo advice blog, with the aim of illuminating the tattoo industry for beginners.

As a fan of her Instagram (particularly her cute aquatic designs), I found interviewing Nikko an absolute pleasure. Driven, motivated and passionate, she is a person who finds joy in the world around her. Not only that, but she’s someone who wants to create joy in others as well, and her unique style of bright, colourful, unabashedly feminine tattoos, reflects this.

Nikko raises the game, one tattoo at a time.

Words: Bethan Ackerley
Photography: Nikko Adams

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Tell the readers who you are.

My name is Nikko Adams. I am currently located in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. I am a second year tattoo artist.

Do you have a particular artistic style?

I’d say it is girly traditional but I try not to be too serious. A lot of my designs come from me trying to put as many happy and ridiculous things together that I can. I love sparkles, I love gems and beads and treasures. I want people to smile when they see my work or laugh because it makes them happy.

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Who or what influences your style?

Oh man, everything! Children’s stuffed animals, TV shows, old movies, bright colours… you name it. I love vintage cards and illustrations… anything precious really.

I am super inspired by the female artists emerging in the UK and Australia who are doing these awesome, bright, fearless designs. I love Instagram. It has let me see so much I wouldn’t otherwise know even exists.

Why did you decide to set up a blog about tattoos, and what do you hope to achieve with it?

I’ve never been a blogger or a writer before but I was having the same conversations with people at the shop over and over. I like to have those ‘typical’ conversation with clients but make sure they don’t feel like I think their idea is stupid. My blog touches on a lot of choices clients make and why or why not their tattoo artists may suggest something different. I deal with tattoos every day. That mom or grandma coming in wanting a generic design doesn’t – so I want them to know everything they can before committing – like I can draw them something individual to their interests.

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How did you get into the industry?

I sort of manhandled my way in. I went to school for graphic design and digital media. I spent a few years doing that freelance and working at a call centre. At that time someone I had been tattooed by approached me to make their shop a website. I took that as an opportunity to get my foot in the door. How could he pay me? Apprentice me.

I worked my butt off for over a year doing my apprenticeship and working a full time job at the same time. I don’t think I had a weekend off the entire time. My apprenticeship wasn’t wonderful but I am grateful for the opportunity I was given. Mostly I am proud of me for not just being given anything. No one handed me anything. Once I got in here I refused to let go and am now at a shop with a mentor who is 100% committed to making sure we succeed and I love that. I love being able to learn every day.

What’s your perspective on the Canadian tattoo industry, compared to the UK?

Something that I love about the UK tattoo industry is that some of the very best there are women. That is AWESOME. In Canada we don’t really have a huge amount of artists who are female and killing it. In Edmonton however it’s really cool to see that we have some of the best in Canada working here. I spend my free moments online drooling over shops like Jayne Doe and Trailer Trash Tattoo. Those are places I can only dream to visit someday.

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What do you love most about your job?

I love when someone finds my stuff and says, “I love what you do. I want you to do something on me. I like ____. Do whatever you want. I trust you.”

That is such an honour. Those are the tattoos that end up being my personal favourites.

What are your plans for the next year?

I want to do as many conventions as I can afford and as many as my work schedule will allow. I want to meet everyone! I love conventions. They are such fun and inspiring events to be a part of and not a bad way to travel about.

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If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

Oh gosh. Probably the pinkest fanciest bird you could find.

Any life advice you want to share with the readers of Inkluded:

I guess the most important thing I’ve learnt in the last few years is that you need to be confident in who you are and what you do. You need to love what you do and be proud. If you’re doing that then you’re on the right track.

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