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Life & Work with Kelcie Spector

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelcie Spector.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Oof. Sooo, I have always felt very… different. I knew I didn’t think the same as most people surrounding me. To be honest, I didn’t know who I was for a very long time. I grew up with strict parents in a traditional household where it was expected of me to go to college. Considering I didn’t know who I was at all, I changed majors several times before eventually dropping out entirely (despite being a model student throughout high school and receiving an academic scholarship to college.) It just clearly wasn’t for me. After this, I sort of floated through life until accidentally landing in a new friend group who was heavily active in the music scene. I started going to several shows a week and as many music festivals as I could swing. In this free environment, I blossomed. A new artistic side came out of me and I started making clothes and jewelry. I created an Etsy shop and I survived entirely on doing this as well as random side jobs I picked up. For about a year, I traveled around in a van with my boyfriend (at the time) and our pups. It was truly a magical and freeing (and CHALLENGING) experience. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. After landing back at home base (Kansas City) I found myself in a new relationship which would become a defining time in my life. He was terrible to me. It was such an abusive and toxic relationship, the complete opposite of the one I had just left and unlike anything, I had ever experienced or seen to date. It was the kind of sad situation you see in a movie or read about but never imagine you would find yourself in. I lost myself. I became incredibly depressed. If it weren’t for my dogs and my friends, I never would have survived. Luckily I eventually landed myself a piercing apprenticeship! It was such a game changer for me. I finally got to be immersed in a world of alternative people like myself who have managed to turn that aspect of their lives into their career! I loved it immediately. One of the artists in the shop used to ask to apprentice me to tattoo and I always told him I didn’t think I could do it. “I’m not a good enough artist, I’m too anxious, etc.”

Fast forward a bit, I end up moving to Florida to ultimately escape the relationship I was in. I couldn’t seem to get away from him while still living there. So I left behind my home, all my best friends, and everything I ever knew to come down here. My parents and siblings moved here about ten years prior so I at least have a support system here. They helped me change my life without a doubt. It was my sister who linked me with my current boss and mentor, Randy Fisher. I started piercing in his shop, Touch of Ink Tattoo in Tavares, FL. One day after the former apprentice had quit, Randy came into the piercing room and asked me if I wanted to learn how to tattoo. This time, I said yes with no hesitation. I spent months pouring myself into drawing, learning, watching, researching, etc. Eventually, I started tattooing melons, and in June of 2018, my first tattoo on a human! (Thank you Taylor) It was truly love at first sight with tattooing. Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly stressful at times and a lot of pressure! I suffer from extreme anxiety and there are many days when I question how I am even able to do such a job as this. When I pick up my machine, my mind quiets. It has become very therapeutic for me and I could not be more grateful to have the best job in the world and such supportive clients/family/friends. I have had the honor of doing so many first tattoos, memorial tattoos, scar cover ups, couple tattoos, etc. It can be so so so rewarding. I have literally cried with clients before after a memorial tattoo. I am honored to be able to change lives like I do. I couldn’t ask for more and I can’t wait for a lifetime of improving upon my craft!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I may have gone into way too much detail with my story hahaha. Sorry about that. Absolutely there have been struggles. In the beginning of my apprenticeship, I can’t tell you how many times I was holding back tears while doing a tattoo. I am extremely anxious so I have to work really hard to learn to calm my nerves. It is not an easy craft. Obviously, I am making permanent changes to someone’s body, so you could say there is a bit of pressure hahaha. Managing my schedule and messages has also proved to be quite challenging and honestly very overwhelming sometimes!! But I am learning, always. I literally spend all my time either tattooing or drawing, which I LOVE, but I am hoping to learn how to manage my time better to allow more time for learning, traveling, creating in other ways, etc.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I have been tattooing for almost three years now, which makes me baby in the industry, though I got into it late (28 years old). One thing that I definitely think sets me apart from a lot of other tattoo artists is my attitude. I have had COUNTLESS clients tell me that I make them very comfortable and that other artists they have interacted with have been rude, abrasive, etc. A lot of artists I have talked to think that’s a part of the job and that tattoos aren’t for everyone. Maybe not. I don’t like that mentality though. I love to make my clients feel comfortable and despite my physical appearance, I’m actually very sweet haha. Many people have a lot of anxiety walking into a tattoo shop, which I can 100% relate to, so I like to nip that in the bud. I am just very much myself and I think people can relate to that. As far as what I specialize in, I am still nailing down my style and preferences. I’d say I lean heavy towards color and neotraditional tattooing! I also enjoy doing mandalas and geometric work. Along with some creepy blackwork. I am proud to say that I use a very eco-friendly tattoo setup (biodegradable bottle bags, ink caps, rinse cups, cord covers, etc.). And I’m slowly improving on that always! The tattoo industry honestly uses an abhorrent of plastic and it is very upsetting to me, so I’m hoping we can change that!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
When I can find the time, I also like to create, print and sticker designs, which I sell on Etsy. I consider myself to have two art personalities. I make colorful, witchy art that I love to tattoo. I also make smutty/alternative/goth art which I like to sell on stickers or even on clothing and accessories on a site called Threadless. I still occasionally dabble in making clothing and jewelry, though I don’t have much time for that these days.

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Image Credits
Kelcie Spector

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