We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Stevens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
In the beginning of my career as a Tattoo Artist I had a hard time clearly defining my boundaries and how to juggle all of the needs in my life. It could be very overwhelming. I became a new mom right after my apprenticeship was completed so from the very beginning I had to find a balance between family and my career. This took a long time and lots of practice. I often overworked myself, was far to accomodating to clients and bosses. With juggling motherhood and getting my feet firmly planted in the industry it could definitely be exhausting. As I got older I started to space sessions out better, put limits on how long I worked. I took more time off so I could be more available to my family and own personal life. It also made me a better artist and be able to give more to my clients during the time I tattooed them. I am now in a place where I have very firm boundaries on what I need as an artist and how I manage my time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. I watched my mother pour casts, and carve wood into ornate detailed relief sculptures, so from an early age I was hooked. Though becoming a professional artist has really been a long journey. I did not attend art school and while I have taken art classes here and there, I learned mostly by trial and error, practice and from other artists. I traveled for 4 years living a nomadic lifestyle, spending countless hours drawing and creating. During this time I toyed with the idea of learning how to tattoo. I was obsessed with tattoos, I wanted to be covered head to toe with them. But I really didnt know how to go about learning. It wasnt until I put down some roots that an oppourtunity arose. I already had facial tattoos, (a dedication to my inner self), so jobs were definitely challenging. In 2001 a tattoo shop was hiring receptionists so I figured they wouldnt care about my face tattoos. I applied for the job and ended up with an apprenticeship. It was not easy as a woman in the industry at that time and it took alot of determination to stick with it. During my apprenticeship I became pregnant with my son and was also housecleaning. It was a juggling act but I finished right after my son was born. Since then, I have been in the industry, sometimes taking a step back to focus on my family, my heath and other mediums of art. I create in many mediums including but not limited to watercolor, pen and ink, graphite, paintng and tattoo. I depict images of various things Im obsessed with, but also subtle explorations of grief, trauma, mental illness love and heartache, and our intrinsic link to our animal and natural selves. Im forever obsessed with nature and the human form and it persists in all my work. The process of creating also fascinates me so I often leave elements of the process in my finished work. Little subtle steps that might be missed unless really staring at the piece. In my tattoo work, many of these elements are translated, though I take a very collaborative approach. I love that aspect of tattooing. It pushes me to create things I might never have done in my other work, it keeps the creative process always exciting and fresh. Speaking of exciting, I am starting in April at an up and coming shop called Phoenix Tattoo Company on south broadway owned by Jillian Johnson. Im very excited to be part of this team and look forward to seeing how I grow in this experience.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Me and my husband love good food, so we would definitely want to take our friends to some of our favorite restaurants. Adelitas has some of the best authentic mexican food in Denver as well as their sister restaurant La Dona. Adelitas is on south broadway which is great stretch of road In Denver, featuring all kinds of cool restaurants, bars, little shops, antique row and of course the green mile. One little shop to check out is the Fifty Two 80s A Totally Awesome Shop, Brutal poodle also claims its home on south broadway, a great metal bar that has delcious chicken and waffles. Another metal bar to check out is Black Sky Brewery on santa fe. Other little hot spots in Denver are the several little pockets of art districts allover town, Santa fe art district and rhino arts district. And of course a must see are the thousands of amazing trails and natural wonders surrounding our city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people that have had a positive impact on my journey as an artist and tattoo artist. For one, I wouldnt be anywhere without my family, they have championed all my crazy endeavors and always supported the pursuit of my passions. My husband and best friend John is also my biggest champion, he has had a positive life changing influence on my life in so many ways that has pushed me to explore greater depths in my work and given me the courage to put my work back out into the public sphere. My wonderful friends that have continued to support my work through the years by sharing, buying, inspiring me to no end, being there for me mentally and emotionally through all life’s crazy twists and turns, their continued support gives me the oppourtunity to continue doing what I love. I must also give a shout out to all those I have had the pleasure to work with in the industry throughout the years, to name a few, marie that took a chance on me, the incredible tabby, tracy and ann-marie that were there with me in the beginning, and more recently in my career to name a few, the immeasureable Kay Jones, Kita Fatale and Alux Alexi, that are not only incredible humans but forces to watch, they will be and are bringing amazing things to the table. All the incredible artists over the years Ive worked alongside, learned from, shared time and space with all have left their mark in some way in this tangled journey. But my biggest shoutout has to go to all my incredible clients that have entrusted their skin to me, that have given me the utmost honor to create permanent art on their bodies. I am able to do what I love because of them so I am eternally grateful for that!