Summer Henry | Avatar Tat2
I feel like I was just born into it…. I’ve been drawing and painting Since I can remember. Before that, juvenile doodles filled up paper, hotel notepads, napkins (when mom ran out of paper and couldn’t get to the store), all of which are in a hope chest at the foot of my bed. Proof of the passion I had at such an early age.
Born in Paramount, CA I mostly drew a happy family, our house, landscapes, animals, flowers, etc… My parents recognized my talent and bought art supplies and art books for every gift giving occasion. They were proud of my rapidly excelling skills in my “hobby”…
As our once beautiful neighborhood started to become a dangerous and unsafe place, our family (grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, uncle Bob and my sister and I) decided to move to Creston, CA. POP 270. It was on our 300 acre working ranch, Byng Ranch, where we had about 50 head of cattle that we regularly bought and sold at auction, we raised pigs, butchered our own chickens in a family assembly line, dug trenches for irrigation, worked in my uncles eighty, helping him with rotating irrigation lines in the alfalfa fields, tended to a garden the size of a modest house, chopped loaded/unloaded and stacked firewood for winter, and so much more. We worked hard. In my down time, I drew and painted animals, country landscapes, river banks, ponds, animals and wildflowers. The only art teacher I’ve ever had was Bob Ross. A career in art wasn’t viewed as an option in my Conservative/Christian home. It was a fine “hobby” and an exceptional talent but not something that would support me and a family. But I continued to create, to escape….
From about the age of 12, I had entered my art into the California Mid State Fair and now I have a box full of ribbons in the attic. I never announced to friends that I had entered anything. Noone really knew that I was into art as much as I was. Always kept my head down to avoid any attention, you know? In case nobody liked my art.
I graduated Atascadero High School in 1995 and kind of stopped creating… I managed a shoe store at 19, and at 21 got into finance and banking. I ended up at Bank of America in Pismo Beach 2001. I processed/closed jumbo home mortgage loans and handled business banking for all of the hotels between Grover and Avila Beach. I was also their designated poster maker. I drew all of their daily adverts. In 2004, I transferred to Prescott Valley branch where I opened accounts for places like Chili’s, Leff-t’s, Bonn-fire and Tim’s Toyota Center when it was being built. After 5 years of tenure and many awards, life took me in a different direction. I had always wanted to teach kindergarten, so I applied at my son’s elementary school, Acorn Montessori. I taught there from 2006 to 2011. I taught Art, Math and Spelling. I was quickly moved to their reading intervention program because I was so good at helping the students reach their potential. It was while working at the school that I became interested in tattooing and sought out an apprenticeship.
In 2011 I left Acorn to Persue an administrative job at Child and Family Support Services. I was still in a position to work with children and it was more pay, while I worked toward transitioning to tattooing full time.
In April of 2011 I started part time in a tattoo shop in prescott valley. I finally felt brave enough to show other professionals my work.
My stay at that first studio was short, as I was presented the opportunity to work at a more established studio, Avatar Tat2. I was offered a guest spot tattooing at a boxing event/concert Avatar was hosting. Two days later I was offered a job, two weeks later I was offered to buy the business and by December 1st 2011 I was owner of my very own tattoo studio!
It was tough writing this bio, as it’s not so easy recalling my life without thinking on all of the dark parts. This is a peaceful version. The things that I don’t speak of are things that drive me to create “better than I ever could have imagined” art on my clients. I reach for perfection and balance for my clients. My people come to me for healing, release and celebration. They seek me out when they need something to take them out of their dark places, when they feel the need to fall apart, self harm or just get those heavy things of their chests. I feel it all, I feel everyone’s, joy, sorrow, helplessness, confidence, insecurities, fear, love etc…. I care about every person that crosses my path. When we come into eachothers lives, it wasn’t by mistake or coincidence. We were “supposed” to meet. I’m only one person so I can only work with with one person at a time and with a client base of over 1000, it will take me some time to get to everyone, but I’m here, I’m present, I’m ready to meet you.
My occupation? Tattoo artist. My hobby? Creating beautiful and healing art on skin, the most precious and delicate of all canvas. I am continually learning and evolving in my art, trying out new mediums from music to chalk art to tattooing. The emotions that stir in each individual is what inspires me to delve deeper into my clients mind to recreate their vision. “It’s better than I ever imagined” is the goal. When I hear that phrase, I know I’ve succeeded. My journey has not been an easy one, the work is permanent. It has to be near perfection. Every single project is of great importance. Watercolor backgrounds soak and evaporate, in perfect harmony to transform my tattoos into an affliction for eternal artistry… immortal adornments, if you will. Art that conjures confidence, empowerment, healing and release. I love what I do and I love the feeling of happiness and pride radiating from the smiles my people leave with.