Call her Tatty Daddy — Ashes Bardole is slinging anime style tattoos like no one else
Creepy, cute, colorful, sexy, and uncommonly charismatic, the creations of “Tatty Daddy” Ashes Bardole might be described with the same words as the artist herself. She’s spent her entire life practicing the art of drawing skulls and dead animals, and her entire career developing the uniquely chilling and charming style she’s gained a reputation for today.
Part anime, part occult art, part something of her own conjuring, Bardole’s tattoos are about as original as these things come. No one is dabbling in the space she’s carving out for herself – no one is making art like hers — and it’s doubtful anyone else could. Bardole personifies the art style she’s dedicated herself to.
The vagabond artist spends her time between California, Utah, Colorado and even abroad. So if you’re lucky enough to catch her while she’s here, you might just be able to get on her books. She’s busy — but she’s always got time for an idea that inspires her.
How'd you get your start in tattooing?/What drew you to the artform?
My entire life I was always drawing and wanted to be an artist. It was my childhood dream. The first time I ever thought about tattooing I was around 14, I grew up in a very small farming town in Utah and didn't think anyone would ever take a farm girl as an apprentice. I was also intimidated by how intense an artform tattooing was so I ended up shying away from it until I was older.
After high school I ended up going to college for art and was experimenting with a bunch of different mediums and just trying to figure out my artistic style. College is also when I first started getting tattooed. I was going to draw nights with my tattoo artist and future mentor David Schmoe Ellwanger. I was spending almost every Sunday with my mentor and the shop apprentice at drawing nights for the last 3 years of college. After a couple pep talks from the apprentice, I got up the courage to ask Schmoe for an apprenticeship.
He said no--initially-- however, he would consider taking me if I was willing to wait 3-5 years for when he opened his own shop. So I decided to wait, but after several months the opportunity was given for me to help him open a new shop in Washington state and apprentice under him. He was an amazing mentor and showed me how to be a humble, caring person in a tough industry. Unfortunately some unexpected events happened and I was without a mentor.
I ended up getting a second apprenticeship to finish what we had started. Although the second apprenticeship was less than ideal, I learned a lot of what not to do and was able to see a different side of the tattoo industry. This helped me understand the kind of experience I wanted to provide for my clients.
My biggest draw toward tattooing was the challenge. Out of all of the mediums I had worked in; nothing was as challenging or as mentally stimulating as tattooing. As soon as I started actually tattooing, I knew this was the art form that I had been searching for. It fulfilled many of my artistic, mental, social, emotional needs.
How did you become the cute creepy tatty daddy that you are today?
The creepy cute style that I do is something I had developed throughout college and since starting my career. Even for my senior art show I was oil painting pictures of roadkill and creepy, dead looking animals done in rich, beautiful colors to show the beauty in everything. I'm obsessed with death, life and rebirth and creating fantastical creatures is an extension to the beauty that I see. I am just barely starting to become comfortable with tattooing and pushing to discover more of my style. I love working with pastels and am now starting to branch into blackwork and love both so much. I'm honestly really excited for the future direction of my work and though blackwork and pasteles are very different, I feel that I've finally figured out how to mold both to my style.
As for the anime stuff, I have enjoyed anime my entire life. As a child I was drawing anime and had originally wanted to become an animator when everything was still hand drawn. If you had told a 13 year old me that anime would be cool one day I wouldn't have believed you, I was ready to take it to my grave that I watched anime. The artistic style and creatures in anime definitely influenced my drawing of fantastical creatures, demons, etc.
What's the story behind the name 'tatty daddy'?
The name “tatty daddy” was created by one of my clients as a joke during her appointments. I was tattooing her kneecap and she jokingly called me daddy. Which then ended up as a tweet that snowballed into a large number of my clients referring to me as the Tatty Daddy, with some clients even giving me fathers day presents lol. So I decided to just lean into it, it is funny and I love it.
How would you describe your style of tattoo art?
I honestly have no idea how to describe my style, it’s sort of creepy, sort of cute, so I decided to call it creepy cute. I've been tattooing for about 4 years so I am continuously trying to explore my own style. I believe I’m definitely heading in the right direction, and can't wait to see where my work will be in 6 years, 10 years, ect. My goal is to try to create a style that is unique to me, so when someone views my work they immediately think, “oh that's Ashes’ work.” I just want to give my clients something they can't get anywhere else and will be uniquely special for them.
What are some of your artistic influences?
I have so many people I look up to in the tattoo industry. Teresa Sharpe has been my most recent inspiration, I just love how they do their sleeves as one entire cohesive piece and am trying to move towards that direction for my own work. The way they have their work flow on the body is who I look towards for inspiration on placement, composition, and flow. Brando Chiesa is also someone that has inspired me, they have pushed the tattoo industry and created their own style. There are so many talented artists in the industry right now I really could go on for a while about who inspires me for different reasons. Tattooing is at a place of so much artistic talent and growth and I would love to be a part of that. I really just hope that one day I can get to the level that some of these artists I admire are at.
Do you have a favorite anime scene/character/subject to tattoo?
I love tattooing anime girls. However, my favorite subject matter is animals/creatures/demons with extra eyeballs, teeth, scary mouths, stuff like that.
It honestly depends on my mood, sometimes I won’t take an anime project because I personally am not a fan of that anime or have gotten too many requests for the same thing. Sometimes I can't think of a good idea for some projects and if I can't get excited for someone's consultation request when I review it, I won't take it. They deserve 110% from me and if I can't give that, someone else will probably do it better.
Obviously you travel with your art a lot — do you have a favorite place to tattoo/why?
I think my two favorite places to tattoo would be LA and Denver. Almost all my closest friends live in LA, so being able to work out there and see my friends is my favorite.
Denver is a gorgeous place and my clients are absolutely wonderful, really sweet people. People seem to be a lot more open to unique artist styles in Denver as well.
Every place that I go really has its own unique charm and I love being able to see and experience that difference first hand. This is especially prominent, coming from a state that has a culture heavily influenced by Mormonism, even if you are not Mormon.
I really want to work in Australia, England, and several other european countries. The tattooing talent in other countries is insane and I would love to be able to meet and learn from some of these other artists. I really just want to see the world, gain a wider perspective, and visit some of the other unique parts of Earth.
My next big push is for international travel now that things are starting to reopen.
What's your favorite aspect of tattooing, as an artist?
Oh man, there are so many aspects of tattooing that I love.
First, I could not have found a better career for myself. I get to have quality one-on-one time with fascinating people who are so amazing to me and supportive of my art. The trust clients give me to have full artistic freedom over their piece is an amazing thing.
The fact that people like my art enough to get it tattooed on them literally blows my mind still. It is fulfilling to share something so important to me with others. I get to create art every day. That is all I’ve ever wanted my entire life.
Another aspect I love is being in charge of my own business; I have the freedom to run things the way I want to and set my own boundaries. It is a lot of work running your own business, I work more than I ever have in my life but I love it.
Finally, traveling. I get to explore so many places, meet so many different kinds of people and stay as long as I would like. Traveling and working in new places allows me to experience a local’s lifestyle, so the experience is much more intimate and reflective.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
With everything that has happened this last year and the pandemic, I have been pushed to expand my personal awareness.
I recently found a deep adoration for plants. Over this past year, I ended up collecting a number of tropical house plants and starting a garden. This led me to reevaluate my impact on the planet and helped me gain understanding and clarity on my own mental health.
This has allowed me to bring an openness about mental health into the tattoo space. The nature of tattooing allows both client and artist to spend hours together in close, personal contact. This environment permits my clients and myself to be vulnerable, honest and have an open discussion that encourages personal healing and growth. Ideally this creates a community that pays it forward after one leaves a tattoo appointment.
I strongly believe in this atmosphere that we can have a huge impact within each other's lives and can increase an awareness of our impact on the planet. I have reevaluated my processes and discovered ways to be more eco-friendly with my tattooing business and personal life.
Overall, I just want to be able to create art and create a community of people who love and care about themselves and the world around them.
If anyone is interested in my work or booking an appointment with me, the easiest way is to visit my website ashesbardole.com. I have consultation forms for submission, F.A.Qs and social media links.