Freshly Inked Interview with Miryam The Witch Doctor

You came from Sweden, was it a really tough cultural adjustment?

It was really tough.  It took a while to learn the language and cultures.  The more I exposed myself to different people from different parts of the U.S., the more I learned how it is here.  People close to me are from all over the states and the world and teach me different things about their culture and it opens my mind a lot.  

Aside from your successful career of tattooing, you are a painter.  What is your favorite painting and why?

Every one of my paintings are like my babies!  If I had to choose my favorite paintings, it would have to be the ones that possess a lot of contrast and depth and that best tell the stories I was channeling at that time.  For example, my piece titled "Bioluminescence" is one of my favorites. I painted it when I had just came back from Puerto Rico with some traveling artists. The piece was inspired from me being fascinated after seeing organisms glow in the darkness of still water at night.  It was so cool to me and I decided to capture that essence in a painting. It definitely is one that was told from a beautiful experience.  

Was art something that came naturally to you or did you have to take classes?

I was brought up in a very creative household by my eccentric Father and my Mom who was an amazing teacher. Both of my parents definitely have artistic spirits and that explains why I am who I am today.  Instead of going to art school, I began drawing and sharing my art with my friends.  It was really through them, peers and my team where I got my fanbase and they helped me learn and evolve artistically.  Thats why to this day, it is important for me to be surrounded by people who inspire me.  

When did you start transferring your artwork into tattoo?

When I finished my apprenticeship and moved to America, I spent three years just painting.  When I finally got my green card,  that's when I started tattooing in the states.  Because I had been only painting for so long, it became natural to incorporate my painting style into tattooing.  

You started tattooing at 17.  What was it like tattooing at an early age?

It was horrible!  Everything from me just starting out and learning the ropes to no one wanting to pay for my work.  I was a broke artist for a while but I never stopped trying to prove to others and myself that I would keep going. It was tough and it didn't happen overnight.

Is it true that when you first started tattooing, you didn't have a lot of tattoos?

Yes that's true.  I was so excited to get my first chest piece as soon as I turned 18 that I drew exactly what I wanted.  I even scheduled my session for the day after my 18th birthday!  

How did you get the nickname “The Witch Doctor”? 

I had been thinking on a name that I could call myself that would best describe me as an artist for a couple of years.  One day, my friends and I decided to meet at this hookah lounge. During the outing, one of my friends called me a witch doctor. That’s when I realized, I am a witch doctor- through art!!  To explain a little more, the term witch doctor is a magician credited with powers of healing.  From then on the name stuck with me and now I continue to heal with my art. 

What style of tattooing do you focus on?

I love using vibrant colors and contrasts.  I also like playing with depths and dimensions.  I try to take on different ideas that help me grow as an artist but at the same time, I also have to be mindful as to what projects I decide to take on in order to stay true to who I am as an artist.

Out all the tattoos you have, which one represents who you are the most and why?

It would have to be the portrait of my Dad on my arm.  I feel like the energy of that piece is amazing and reminds me of him every time I look at it, we are literally the same person.  I always have a fun story to tell about him every time someone asks about the piece.  He’s such a legend to me and everyone who meets him. When people see that tattoo, they always ask, ‘Who is that? Is he famous?’ The portrait was done by a very talented tattoo artist and girlfriend of mine in Gothenburg, Sweden. On top of it being a great tattoo, it was done by an extremely talented female artist.

You've been traveling a lot.  How is it on the road compared to the studio?

Traveling is really hard.  I always try to give the exact same experience as I do in my studio when I travel.  A lot more logistics go into traveling sessions.  But the good part is I get to experience the clients in their city.  They share stories with me and it's always cool being around new people. 

When did you discover YouTube and what made you want to start posting videos?

I discovered YouTube when I was about 15 years old.  I used to be apart of what you can call a ‘Female Jackass Crew.’  We would post funny videos of us doing crazy things that teenagers do like eating raw eggs and recording our reactions. Crazy stuff like that.  We would also do these comedy episode series and record ourselves having fun all through Gothenburg.  

In your opinion, what is an advantage and disadvantage tattooing in the modern age of social media?

A benefit is that you get to promote yourself and show your latest work at anytime.  It’s cool because people can engage with you and know more about you as an artist before they schedule with you.  A disadvantage would be that some artists don't completely understand social media and it can sometimes impact people emotionally.  You may find artists that are extremely talented but they may not be using social media to its full potential.  

What's the newest professional endeavor for you?  

I just started expanding my art to 3D installations, which I just brought my iconic moth to life at Art Basel Miami, and I recently designed a tattoo sleeve for a video game, Fractured Lands. I also plan to incorporate my art into fashion in the future. 

To wrap things up, what's your advice for upcoming artist?

My advice to upcoming artists would be to work inward. When I say work inward, I mean look within yourself and find motivations and inspirations. Staying in tune with yourself is very important as an artist.  If you are not truly passionate about yourself and what you are doing, you’re not going to be willing to put in the extra motivation that is needed to keep going forward.

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