Amanda Coykendall says her distinct black and gray illustrative style has always come naturally to her. It was the way she drew in high school, and it’s the style she’s carved a reputation for herself with, using fine lines and feminine designs. She specializes in botanical and natural images (like mushrooms, flowers, skulls and critters) and has probably inked hundreds, potentially over a thousand, people. Amanda Coykendall is a professional—plain and simple—and she’s certainly honed her niche. 

How did you get into tattooing illustrative black and gray?
This style has always been close to me. Looking back at the artwork that I made during high school and during my apprenticeship, I’ve always been drawn to fine lines and feminine designs. When I first started tattooing, you don’t really get to pick what you do everyday, and end up just taking what comes through the door. It was awesome to gain experience doing multiple styles, but I always found myself at peace, and doing my best work, when it was my style. After my first year of tattooing, I was able to market that style a little better and now my clients come to me for it specifically! 

What is your favorite part about b/g illustrative? What draws you to it?
My favorite part is the way it compliments the human body! A majority of my clients come in looking for something that is feminine and doesn’t feel heavy or dark, and it’s such a good feeling watching them leave loving their new body adornments. The thing that draws me most to this style is probably the small accent lines! I usually don’t like sitting still or focusing for too long, but over the years it’s become quite relaxing. Almost a meditation. 

What is your favorite thing to tattoo? 
I really love all botanical pieces, but I’ve been really drawn to tropical plants, fruits, and mushrooms lately! I love the way organic elements flow with natural body curves and makes it look like the piece always belonged there! Skulls, skeletons, and anatomy are another favorite, because the little cracks and details in them are really fun to tattoo! Almost all of my pieces include some floral or botanical elements. I just love the way it ties back to nature! 

How do you typically design a tattoo? 
I typically do custom work, so I’ll have a client send me a basic idea with some inspiration photos of what they’re looking to get done and then a photo of the location they want tattooed. I digitally draw most of my designs on procreate on my IPad to save some time due to the amount of designs I’m doing. Usually I’ll start drawing basic shapes/find the composition that best fits the location onto the photo of my client! I find this way all my pieces flow and fit the best!

How many tattoos have you done?
I started my apprenticeship at 18 and did my first tattoo on another person at 19! It’s been a very busy few years since, so my best guess would be around 800-1000! 

Will you ever use color? 
I absolutely love color tattoos, but one thing I love about this career is having the freedom to be able to hone in and focus on a certain style that speaks to me. I’ve done color in the past and still sprinkle some in every now and again, and I enjoy it. However, there is such a big demand for illustrative line work that it’s easy for me to focus on and do mainly that!  In the future I’ll definitely want to release some muted color designs that will be available to be tattooed!