Freshly Inked Interview with Ashley Love

Instagram: @ohashleylove

The female tattoos you do aren't stereotypical pin-up girls, what made you want to create curvier pin-up styled women in your tattoos?
Someone had asked me for a heavier set pin-up a few years ago. I had always loved one that Sailor Jerry had done back in the day. So I was very excited to make my own. I saw an opportunity to be more creative with pin-ups, making them more fun & more diverse. There isn’t a ton of diversity in pin-up tattoos, and I don’t really see a reason for it to stay that way. 

You're an artist with Yellow Rose tattoo, a yellow rose symbolizes joy/happiness-is this what inspired the name?
The name Yellow Rose Tattoo was chosen because it’s mellow & inviting. Luis Flores, the owner of YRT, didn’t want an aggressive, tough guy vibe for the shop. He did a great job of creating a welcoming name & a welcoming shop. Our crew is made up of some of the most hardworking & caring people I’ve ever met. There’s no pretentious vibe in our shop and we truly embrace our community. 
You started up Still Not Asking for it, which is Tattooers making efforts toward awareness, prevention & recovery from sexual assault & rape. What motivated you to start this and how have you found other artists to get involved? 
Still Not Asking For It began as a response to the behavior around sexual violence in my community. Following a personal experience with sexual assault, I observed such a wide range of reactions, which sadly included excuses, belittlement & denial. People were excusing my abuser, saying it wasn’t his fault. They minimized my experience, taking away my own truth, and turning it into something else…something more acceptable. Some people just completely refused to acknowledge it (which was the most startling, because there was never any denial from my abuser-so the incident can be a known FACT and people will still deny it happened! (Just as an excuse to continue a friendship with a fun guy I guess?) I was surprised by the amount of acceptance given to my abuser & gathering some real allies to make a statement seemed like a great way to respond. There may be a lot of tattooers out there who excuse this type of disgusting behavior, but there are also so many who recognize right from wrong, and I wanted to celebrate that. Being able to organize and host a flash event to raise money for this issue is great & being in the company of my allies during the event makes it even sweeter. Many of the people/hosts involved are tattooers who I’ve already known on a personal level. Around the end of 2017, I also had a number of tattooers who I did not know quite as well, reach out about contributing their time & efforts. 

Still Not Asking for it has flash events, what happens there and how can people find the time and place?
Now that Still Not Asking For It has expanded to having global coverage, we have many shops participating, and they all bring their own personal flair to the event. Typically, the hosting tattoo shop will compile an assortment of flash designs, many of which are fun & uplifting (I also send out a handful of the more popular images from past events) and welcome participants on a first come, first come basis. All proceeds from these tattoos get donated to a local or national organization, chosen by the hosting shop. Many tattoo shops also host a raffle with prizes donated by other local businesses, to help raise the donation amount. Sometimes, there will also be special merchandise, art/prints & tasty treats available. Our website is and in the event section, we list each tattoo shop/city participating. We also try to announce the participating tattoo shops on our Instagram (@stillnotaskingforit_flashevent) as they confirmed. Still Not Asking For It flash events will occur annually, with miscellaneous other ways to support in the meantime. We just hosted our first global event on June 10th, 2018, so it will be a bit before our next one. My partner & I are in the process of planning an online art auction, which will take place in the fall/winter of this year. 
Since starting this, have you had a lot of women reach out to you? How often do girls contact you directly?
Yes! I have had numerous persons reach out to me. Not just women. I have had the privilege of hearing some very heavy, and also some very uplifting stories. Around the time of the actual events, I get many more messages, than during the between time, so it fluctuates quite a bit. I wish I had more time to directly interact with every person who reaches out to me, but this is hard since I also work a (more than) full-time job & have a home life/family to maintain. Knowing that my event provokes people to reach out to me, really pushes me to continue this work. These events have proven to be beneficial for the healing process of so many people who come out to participate, and I love that so much. 

You've created a variety of women empowerment tattoos, which is your favorite? How many tattoos do you have that relate back to your work with Still Not asking for it? Choosing a favorite is really difficult. The “No means No” design is the first image I made, for the very first Still Not Asking For It event. Because of that, I think this image will always be dear to me. I also really like the images relating to self-love, because that is an important topic as well, in & outside the issue of sexual violence. The first Still Not Asking For It event was held at Allied Tattoo in Brooklyn & that night, my friend (and owner of Allied Tattoo) Andy Perez tattooed an “AT” symbol on me. It wasn’t a design off the sheet, but it represents the first event and reminds me of the support they gave me when I asked them if I could host my event at their shop. Everyone at Allied Tattooed has been nothing but supportive of S.N.A.F.I and it’s growth. It’s people like them who really encourage me to continue moving forward. Allied Tattoo is a shop full of people who genuinely care about others.

You began your tattoo journey in 2003, how much has the industry changed for you since then? What's a piece of advice you've give your 2003 self?
I would definitely say the industry has changed tremendously. When I first started getting tattooed and hanging out in tattoo shops, which was in 2001/2002, they were still a place for outsiders. Tattooers/shops were intimidating & strange. This was still the case when I entered my apprenticeship in 2003. Fast-forward 15/16 years and the vibe inside a tattoo shop is much different. There are definitely still some very intimidating and strange tattooers/shops out there, but over-all the industry is much less on the fringe. The art has changed as well. Tattooers are constantly growing and refining their skills, and I see so many more different types & styles of tattoos now, it’s really amazing! There are too many differences to mention, really, but I think those are two of the most noticeable. It’s funny because I feel like one of the attractive aspects I saw in tattooing, was that it was an industry where outcasts were welcome. I liked that it was a place for everyone to be themselves, even if they didn’t fit the typical mold. That was how it appeared, at least. During my early years in tattooing, it became apparent that there was still a mold to fit… just not the same typical mold in the outside world. There were many pressures to fit in, be accepting of specific types of behavior, and to behave in certain ways, myself. I would love to tell myself not to appease these pressures. However, if I was as headstrong as I am now, my career may have faced a lot of tumults. I am happy to say that this is another aspect of tattooing which is changing. We are making space for so many more diverse types of artists. I want to emphasize the word “CHANGING” because this issue is not completely resolved, and there is still a lot of work to be done.
Many women don't openly talk about their experiences with sexual assault, how has speaking out about it helped you?
I feel like speaking out has helped me to find peace with my experiences with sexual assault. Recovery and healing is different for every individual, but for me, being open allows me to go ahead and feel the emotions I need to deal with and allows me to move past them. Helping others, in the process, is also very healing. I think it is common for people to be more protective of their loved ones than they are of themselves, and because of that, I feel an obligation to go ahead and speak my truth, so that it might be easier for any of my loved ones to do so, should they need to. 

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