Meet The Witchdoctor | Tattoo Artist, Miryam Lumpini

Author: Jana K. Hoffman / Photos: Angelo Vasquez
03.12 / MISSBISH Artist Series

To say that tattooing is a special kind of art would be an understatement. It takes an artist with a thoughtful eye for detail, a very steady hand, and a brilliant creative imagination to bestow upon a live canvas a piece of everlasting artwork. Los Angeles-based visual artist and tattooist Miryam Lumpini is one such brilliant creative. In fact, she's in a league of her own. A sought-after, self-proclaimed "witchdoctor," Lumpini tattoos clients from all over the globe in her private studio, one she always knew she'd come to achieve.

In our latest MISSBISH Artist Series, we get a more intimate look into Lumpini's journey to tattooing fame. One that led her from Sweden to Los Angeles in 2012 and has given her the opportunity to leave behind a legacy of insanely inspiring and colorful tattoos that range from wolves and florals to kitty cats and Rihanna.

Were you always a creative person? At what point did you realize you wanted to become a tattoo artist?
Honestly, I've been creative all of my life. I was about 5 years old when I drew my first portrait. I remember my mom being fascinated by how life-like it looked and being so proud. We still have it to this day hanging my tattoo studio in Downtown LA.  

I was still just a teen in high school when I realized I wanted to take on tattooing as a career. I used to practice on all of my emo friends using just a kit I purchased online! In Sweden, I wasn’t yet old enough for an apprenticeship, so I had to teach myself and I just fell in love with the process. When I tattoo I interpret it as a shared spiritual connection using the energy we put into this person’s skin. I often think of the process as a body transformation and evolution—which ultimately will last a lifetime. Collaborating with people to create a mutual vision that is both dynamic and personal to them makes me happy and fulfilled. It's truly an honor to be a part of someone’s life in a lasting way.

What was the very first tattoo that you ever got, and how old were you when you got it?
I got most of my tattoos around the same time—mostly to prove how serious I was about being a tattoo artist. But I specifically remember getting my chest piece—which I designed myself—for my 18th birthday. I got it done at the same shop I was hoping to get an apprenticeship at to prove I was just as tough as any of the guys there. Oh my gosh, it hurt like crazy, but I did it! 

How would you describe your tattooing style?
If I had to choose some words to describe my artistic style, they'd have to be vibrant, energetic, organic, hand-crafted, free-handing, texture, contrast, highlight, and most definitely one-of-a-kind.

As with any artist, my skills have grown and evolved over the years with experience. I’ve really honed my focus on mastering color work. It meant a lot to me to create a space and technique which allows me to produce vibrant pigment on different skin types and various levels of melanin. 

In your opinion, what kind of strides have female tattoo artists made in the last five or so years?
When tattooing first became less taboo, it seemed like people who sought tattoos would just go to their local artist; shops weren’t that easy to come by. Now people are searching for tattoo artists they can relate to. I find that female artists are very relatable and nurturing--naturally, as in most areas of the world right now, people are turning to women for answers and some of the greatest responsibilities.

Why do you think people are becoming more accepting of female tattoo artists and females with tattoos today?
I think we are at a time now where the world has collectively come to the conclusion that women f*ckin' rock. We are a force to be reckoned with and just as talented as any male artist. My dear friend and mentor Fruduva is a strong female figure in the art world and one of the dopest tattoo artists I know—male or female. People have no choice but to respect female artists as they would any other artist--or get out of the way because we are definitely here to stay.

Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your tattoos?
Honestly, no. I feel like my body art creates more room for conversation. I don’t feel that I’ve ever been kept from any opportunities because of my tattoos or because I’m a tattoo artist. I attribute that to our generation growing as a collective; we’re generally more accepting nowadays and encourage artistic self-expression. Whenever I’m in pictures or at an event showing off my body art, I feel that I’m simply empowering myself—and others—to showcase and be proud of your body art and what it stands for!

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
For me, MISSBISH is an instrument for femininity, self-expression, self-awareness, fierceness, confidence, and power; giving life to a community of women from all over the world who are passionate about what they do—whether it's fashion, design, business, or tattooing! MISHBISH has become a great safe space to inspire and aspire—and I am very honored to be a part of it.

Who’s your MISSBISH?
My MISSBISH would easily have to be my mom! 

She is extremely independent, fierce, gentle, kind, and most of all loving and supportive. She’s who I develop a lot of my personal qualities from. She taught me how to make the most of my experiences. Although she wanted me to go to college as most parents do, she still instilled in me the courage and heart to pursue my passion for the arts. When I left Sweden for the US to follow my dreams of one day opening my own studio in Los Angeles, it was my mother who reminded me I can do anything I put my mind to.

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