So don’t tell my mom, but I’m obsessed with the idea of getting a tattoo. I’ve seen so many beautiful ones on women I admire recently. (I confess this began with a marathon viewing of L.A. Ink.) Plus, I figure, I’m 46 years old. At least half of my life has been lived without a tattoo. Time’s a-wastin’.
So it was perfect timing when I found out that online and mobile kids’ game Toca Boca is collaborating with tattoo artist extraordinaire Virginia Elwood (who earlier this year was featured in Vogue!) Since discovering her work, I’m considering paying her a visit at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn for my own ink, as they say (plus Robyn lives there, maybe she would hold my hand). Until then, Frida and I have been having fun with the temporary versions Elwood designs based on Toca Boca characters. I chatted with her on the phone to find out more about the collab and her inspirational career.
Elwood’s mother was an painter, and she remembers days filled with creative projects like gravestone rubbings and leaves in wax paper.
“Even though I’m not formally trained in art, creativity was instilled in me from a really young age,” she told me.
She got her first tattoo at 15 or 16 and quickly realized tattooing could become a career that would infuse her life with art. “College wasn’t really an option for me, and I really wanted to find a way to do art every day, travel the world and meet new people,” she said. “It almost fell into place once I realized I wanted to do it. I worked really hard to figure out how to do (tattooing) and not mess up peoples’ skin too much.”
She’s been tattooing now for 14 years, doing the opposite of messing up anyone’s skin. I am not qualified to critique anyone’s tattoo technique, but her little animals and women are the prettiest and at the same time most badass tattoos I’ve seen.
And what she’s done with the Toca Boca characters is the best. I asked Frida to pick her two favorites out of the six, and she chose the robot and the bear getting his hair done. And she actually stood still for me for the 30 seconds required to adhere the tat.
This is Elwood’s first project with kids, and she says she jumped at the chance.
“As a teenager I was the babysitter hustler in the neighborhood,” she says. “I had it on lockdown. I was the babysitter monopoly. I really love kids. I don’t have any myself but I find that I really relate to them. If I’m at a party in the daytime and friends have brought children, usually I’m at the table drawing with them.”
Clearly, Toca Boca found the perfect tattoo artist for this collab. And it’s just the beginning of the company’s Artists Play Series, which will continue to feature artists interpreting toys inspired by the Toca Boca “open play” (meaning no one wins and there are no points) world.
Toca Ink is available starting today at the online store, get the entire collection for $10.