Deanna James (Smith) is an incredible realism tattooer working out of Dallas, Texas. Her style is extremely recognizable and distinct which is one of the main reasons she has become such an in-demand tattooer for collectors across America/elsewhere. She paid her dues as an apprentice for five plus years, and is now seeing the fruits of her labor. I got the chance to ask her about things like advice she has for other female tattooers in this at times cold-blooded industry, her struggles with mental health which I resonate with as well, and more. I hope you guys enjoy the read.
So now you’re absolutely killing it and have a name that’s highly respected in the realism genre, but I remember you’ve mentioned starting out as an apprentice and what not before. Can you describe a little bit about that?
You seem to have really solidified the style of tattoo that you’re going for which is absolutely beautiful by the way. How important do you think it is for up-and-coming artists to kind of pick a niche in order to get a steady stream of clients?
You wouldn’t commission Picasso to do a Renaissance styled oil painting.
This industry can be kind of cold blooded… What are your top three pieces of advice for the bad ass female tattooers trying to make a name for themselves in this industry?
Anybody you were hoping to collect a tattoo from yourself? Anyone you were hoping to collab with in the near future?
Can you tell me about your most bizarre experience with any client so far?
Three things you wish every client of yours knew without you having to explain it to them?
How has this industry shifted since the time you first came into it up until now? What shift do you expect/hope to see in the next couple of years?
I have struggled with some mental health stuff my whole life and it was interesting seeing you open up about it… What has been the most beneficial thing as far as moving in the right direction to getting your mind free?
Hardest lesson you’ve had to learn since you started tattooing?
Best piece of advice for a tattoo collectors?
Most challenging part of being a tattooer?
Most rewarding part?