Featured Artist Interview | Sandra Price - InkedWay
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Featured Artist Interview | Sandra Price

Meet the Artist

Sandra Price, owner and resident artist of White Lotus Body Arts (located in Ventura, California) boasts over a decade of experience, and has some truly remarkable pieces in her portfolio. The studio is comprised of seven artists, including two junior artists Price mentors.

Her favorite style to work in is a modern take on Japanese traditional themes, but she also works in a wide array of other styles. Versatility can be an important skill for a tattoo artist, and a difficult one to acquire, but Price makes it look easy. Her ability to cater to her clients diverse set interests allows her to work with a variety of clients from all walks of life.

Wonderful World of Studio Ghibli

I was delighted by her Studio Ghibli designs, featuring iconic characters like the Radish Spirit and No Face from Spirited Away, Kiki of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the titular forest spirit from My Neighbor Totoro.

In our interview, Price divulged that Studio Ghibli has inspired her since adolescence. She’s visited the museum in Japan on two separate occasions, and one of her works in-progress is a sleeve that includes characters from throughout the Studio Ghibli universe.

Taking Special Care

Price also does lots of cover-ups, for both scars, and old tattoos that have fallen out of favor with their wearer. Cover-ups require special skills, and experience with a broad spectrum of skin types.

The first obstacle is of course designing a piece that can conceal the darker inks of the old tattoo while keeping its integrity, but scars have an additional layer of difficulty.

As Price explains it, scar tissue doesn’t hold ink the way healthy skin does, and can take several passes for even coverage. Seeing pictures of others who’ve gone through the process helps to soothe any anxieties the client might have about the appearance of the cover-up tattoo after the first session.

The length of the session is another factor she pays special attention to, breaking them down into shorter, more manageable sessions based on what each individual can tolerate.

During our chat together, Sandra also talked about learning to gauge color changes on different skin tones. Many white artists don’t take into consideration how colored ink translates on darker skin.

Seeing the way colored ink shifted in her own skin gave her a more innate understanding, but it still takes a considerable amount of practice to master the skill.

Price is understanding towards white artists who may not find this process as intuitive, but notes that it’s one of the skills that sets her apart from less experienced artists.

I have a big color sleeve, and I will actually pull the colors out of the drawer… and they can see the color in the bottle, and then they can see the color in my skin, and how the darkness of my skin has caused it to shift.

-Sandra Price

Proficiency with all skin types is an essential quality if one wants to be recognized as a seasoned and adept tattooist.

Trust in Others, Trust in Yourself

When I asked Price about her own tattoos, I was shocked at the level of trust she was willing to place in her artist. After some research, she’d chosen an artist whose personal style resonated with her, and left the design entirely up to him.

Prior to their first session working on Price’s tattoo, she and her artist had only ever spoken over the phone. Still, she was confident that whatever he designed would be impeccable, and Chronic Ink Tattoos artist David Hoang didn’t disappoint.

Hoang is known for his black and grey works, inspired by Japanese traditional designs. Price was enchanted by the stoic-faced women that are the subject of many of his works, and decided to collect one for herself.

Though it can be nerve-racking when working with new clients, Price enjoys having similar freedoms to those she allowed Hoang during her own sleeve.

Guessing on matters of taste is always a gamble, but taking full creative charge is liberating, and produces some of the best art. For this reason, the trust she has in fellow artists and herself is nearly boundless.

Contact The Artist

Like what you see? Learn more about Sandra Price on her Instagram @tattoosandra or her studio’s account @whitelotusbodyarts .

Price is currently taking bookings for January sessions, she can be reached with any questions by email at the following address: tattoosandra@gmail.com

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Full Transcript

00:00.00
inkedway
Now wedding. How are you today.

00:00.00
Sandra Price
Hi there. Um I am good now that we’re we’ve finally got past our shoes. But.

00:10.32
inkedway
Um, yes, so to you work at it’s called White lotus.

00:15.93
Sandra Price
Yeah I I actually I am the owner and artist at white Lotus Body arts and there is a total of 7 artists in my studio.

00:26.30
inkedway
Um, ah, that’s a pretty big studio I see that kind of be I guess I guess not I guess I’m used to seeing like you know 4 4 or 5 people walking around. But.

00:32.43
Sandra Price
I Don’t think so but you know it’s a good. It’s a good amount.

00:44.28
Sandra Price
Ah, there’s some shops around here that are quite a bit bigger than us. So I guess that’s why I think we’re not that big.

00:51.50
inkedway
Yeah I guess it’s relative to where you are um and so you’re you guys are based in Ventura.

00:53.27
Sandra Price
Um, yeah, yes, we are right off of the 1 a 1 in Ventura at seaward so we’re like that 5 minute walk from the beach which is really nice.

01:06.70
inkedway
That is nice. Were you at the Ventura seat side tattoo show.

01:13.98
Sandra Price
We had 2 of our junior artists there just because I wanted them to have the experience of a convention without being too stressed out with travel and everything but most of us were already fully booked by the time that thing was rolling around. So.

01:17.28
inkedway
Okay.

01:28.41
inkedway
Right? right? Yeah I was gonna say I walked around in there for 2 2 of the days I didn’t see you.

01:40.54
Sandra Price
No I wasn’t I came by on Sunday to check on my girls to see how they were doing and everything. Um, but yeah I wasn’t there the whole weekend.

01:50.13
inkedway
Um, who was there representing your store Cloud and crystal. Okay, what kind of are you.

01:53.60
Sandra Price
Um, there was Cloud and Crystal they are art artist that are studio. So.

02:02.16
inkedway
Very cool and I’ve looked at a lot of you your art on your just on your Instagram um, and I love all of the studio ghibli ones you did I really especially love ash spirit I thought that was super neat.

02:13.25
Sandra Price
Um, ah oh yeah, I have so much fun with those I’ve always loved ah Miyazaki and all of the studio gtli films like.

02:19.38
inkedway
Um, yeah.

02:25.57
Sandra Price
I’ve been to the museum in Japan twice and you know I just yeah I’ve loved them since I was like twelve years old so I’ve always had a vanity. So anytime I get to do a ghibli piece I’m just super thrilled.

02:28.51
inkedway
Um, oh that’s super cool.

02:39.50
inkedway
Yeah I bet I Yeah I Love Studio ghibli as well. It’s really, ah, a beautiful every single movie and shows such a beautiful work of art is that like would you say that’s your favorite.

02:47.70
Sandra Price
Oh yeah, definitely.

02:54.49
inkedway
Thing to tattoo on people or do you have a preference for.

02:57.73
Sandra Price
I wouldn’t say on one stage. My absolute favorite. It’s something I Really love doing I’m very excited whenever I get to do it but I do a lot of um, traditional like Japanese style tattooing. Um a little more modern I wouldn’t say so so traditional, but traditional themes. Um, Koyfish Dragons Kirans things like that and I love doing those I Just think those are so beautiful and I actually have a large Phoenix on me in that style because I just I think it’s really beautiful.

03:27.77
inkedway
Yeah I agree I saw a really big back piece that you did I think it was like a a mask I Want to say like a Kabuki mask but I’m not sure if that’s the only mask.

03:39.62
Sandra Price
Oh yeah, the yeah, the only a little only mask on. Yeah, we just started that piece on him. It’s partial Coverup Partial old new stuff. And yeah, we just we just got that one mapped out so that’s going to be Ah, how’s good.

03:55.18
inkedway
Yeah, how many do you think you had to guess.

03:55.39
Sandra Price
Be a lot of sessions to complete that. So it’s hard to say he doesn’t sit that long. Um because he has some back pain issues. So when the sessions are cut to only like 3 hours each time it it means it’s going to be a lot more sessions supposed to.

04:04.65
inkedway
Um, to.

04:15.32
Sandra Price
Like I have one there that it’s a back piece I actually have it’s a gentleman who I’ve done his whole his whole body. But there’s a back piece on my page of a tiger kind of descending a waterfall. And that one I would say was probably my maybe 5 or 6 sessions but he sits for a really long time so we get a lot done each time he does he sits.

04:42.24
inkedway
Um, yeah I would you prefer it if you could do it in longer sessions.

04:47.40
Sandra Price
Yeah, definitely because it’s kind of hard when you only have like maybe 2 3 hours to work on something because when you you know when you’re finding your groove. It’s like you’re already halfway through your time and and you’re like rushing to see how much you can get done and and.

05:02.70
inkedway
Yeah.

05:05.25
Sandra Price
Things So that’s you know I I like the longer sessions to get those big pieces done but I understand some people just don’t have the pain tolerance for that.

05:08.91
inkedway
Right.

05:15.85
inkedway
Yeah, and some people I feel like just even just sitting still um for that amount of time is difficult for some people.

05:24.93
Sandra Price
Yeah, definitely you know some people. It’s just it’s just way harder for them I have 1 giant like ah, a peacock back piece that I did on this one lady and she definitely she had had I think 2 back surgeries so we were covering up. Like 3 old tattoos on her back plus the surgical scars from the surgery and each sitting for that piece was only an hour to maybe an hour each time so it was a lot of really small sessions because she just. Ah, you know at an hour she just couldn’t take it anymore.

06:00.53
inkedway
Yeah, what’s it like covering up scars is that difficult.

06:07.56
Sandra Price
Um, um, it used to be hard. Um I think we’ve done it so much like a lot of us have done so many scar colorups because we have a lot of people who have either surgical scars scars from self-harm ah injury scars. Ah. That they want to cover them up and we get a lot of them so we’ve really kind of gotten used to how scar tissue kind of works and we we tell them the whole rundown hey this scar tissue first pass probably you’re going to get a little spit out. There’s going to be some. Areas where the scar it doesn’t quite take the ink and we’re going to have to do a second pass and that’s pretty normal across the board I think when you tell them all that upfront you know they’re much more comfortable with the situation knowing that you and we have a lot of both you know before and after pictures. Of scars that we can show people to kind of show them like here’s here’s it before here’s it’s after we tattooed and here’s it after it’s healed.

07:02.39
inkedway
Yeah.

07:10.28
inkedway
It’s comforting to know what’s going to happen for sure. What’s your favorite part of the process from start to finish of a tattoo like from just like very blank slate.

07:10.98
Sandra Price
Um, yeah.

07:23.92
inkedway
Planning it out to completed project.

07:27.71
Sandra Price
I Really love the part where I’m starting to get especially ah into the color or shading like it’s always more stressful when you’re planning and hoping that they like it and then making sure everything you know that they come in and you’re sizing everything trying to get the. Everything put on you know so everything fits perfectly and then you want to get everything outlined Perfectly. So I feel like the color and shading part is the part where I can like finally relax and just go. Okay, now everything’s placed where I want now I’m just gonna have fun with color and or shading. Um, so I think I like that part of it The best nick.

08:02.80
inkedway
Um, smooth have I know? yeah.

08:10.50
inkedway
That’s very cool I like that answer um, has that do you think changed since you started tattooing has has that preference changed at all.

08:20.14
Sandra Price
I think and I think you know because I’ve been tattooing for almost thirteen years I think in the beginning I think I was just stressed out the whole time you know with every single piece. You know like how is this going to come out and um, you know because everybody’s skin is so different and stuff and.

08:24.35
inkedway
Um.

08:37.66
Sandra Price
And learning how to deal with different Peoples. You know everybody has different um melanin pigments and stuff and figuring out like what colors work best with certain colorations and explaining to people you know? Okay, this color is going to kind of shift this way. Um, due to your your skin pigmentation which I’m glad of I’m a person with some color to my skin because I feel like they much more understand it because I will I have a big color sleeve and I will actually pull the colors out of my drawer and I go Okay, this color is this color here and they can see. The color in the bottle and then they can see the color in my skin and how the darkness of my skin has caused it to shift. Um, so I feel like you know they can have a much better understanding of how color is going to look in their skin.

09:21.21
inkedway
The pain.

09:28.90
inkedway
Yeah, that’s really nice I Think that’s very important a lot of white artists. Don’t know how to tattoo on people with darker skin and it’s really quite a shame. You know, very kind of embarrassing.

09:40.52
Sandra Price
Yeah, you know they don’t quite understand it and they they don’t see they you know and it’s It’s not really their fault because they don’t have colored skin and they can’t like with me I definitely was like okay I’m gonna do a full color sleeve. You know so. I gonna have every color I can possibly have in my Arms. So I have like comparison areas you know like this is how turquoise work this is how blue works here’s how here’s yellow here’s orange here’s reds you know, um, you know so in a way. It’s kind of not their fault. But Also if they’re not willing to take on those pieces. It’s.

10:02.40
inkedway
Um, yeah.

10:17.85
Sandra Price
You know they’re not going to learn either.

10:18.30
inkedway
Yeah, that’s what I kind of feel as well is that you know it’s not your fault that you don’t are you aren’t born with the information but it is on you to learn. Yeah.

10:27.82
Sandra Price
Um, yeah.

10:42.00
inkedway
Sorry I’m just yeah, we have editing so these dead air will be cut out. Um, so let’s see let’s talk about what you look for in an artist for yourself.

10:45.39
Sandra Price
Um, like you said we have editing.

10:49.38
Sandra Price
Um, yeah.

10:58.40
inkedway
When you’re getting your own tattoos.

11:00.60
Sandra Price
Oh okay, um so like a lot of my pieces have been done by artists in my shops. Um, just because I’ve known them for such a long time and they’re friends of mine but I did recently get a full full three quarter sleeve. From an artist in Toronto canada and ah, that’s ah the shop is called chronic ink in Canada and they’re amazing with black and gray. My artist is David Holme and he’s a vietnamese artist and i’ve. I got a samurai girl which he kind of specializes in um and he’s highly detailed I love his work. His women are always beautiful, but very stoic looking. They’re not pin up pretty. They’re more like I’m beautiful but I look like I can ah I could probably kick your ass kind of thing.

11:55.80
inkedway
Um, yeah, that’s awesome.

11:56.86
Sandra Price
And that’s what I love because his women have this kind of quiet strength in their faces that the way he draws them so I remember seeing a piece of his I had been following him because I followed his mentor first which ah was Tony Hugh

12:01.33
inkedway
We then.

12:14.64
Sandra Price
And I did some tutorials that tony you put out because he does coyfish and dragging tutorials and stuff and I wanted to learn how to get better at that and then he would talk about you know his former apprentice David and so I started following David and then I saw this piece he did at the London tattoo convention. I want to say that in 2018 and I saw this piece and I was like oh my god I I absolutely love this I really want my other I’m not one of those who has filled myself up really quickly. I had saved an arm. Yeah, because I wanted to find just if I was gonna do it I had to have just a right artist. Um, so I contacted them in I want to say November of 2018 to try to get an appointment with him and so I booked and my appointment was originally.

13:10.31
inkedway
Um, now.

13:10.80
Sandra Price
Supposed to be April Twenty Twenty one so that’s how far he booked out. He is so booking in 2018 my appointment was supposed to be in 2021 pandemic got postponed almost a year I went this last march and finally got my arm started.

13:28.21
inkedway
Flat.

13:30.60
Sandra Price
So I’ve done 5 sessions with him I have 40 hours into my arm I probably have another 8 hour session to complete it. But it’s beautiful and I love it and really well worth it and and he is amazing. Artist. Not only just. Technically and his ability to draw and everything but also as a human being person like I really enjoyed sitting with him and talking and he was just the most gracious person you could ever meet.

13:59.37
inkedway
Um, did you meet with your artist before you sat down for a session or was it that the first time you did that? okay.

14:06.78
Sandra Price
Um, we had a phone Call. We had a phone call and this is how much faith I have in him because I was like everything he does I Absolutely love I Know he’s gonna I know he’s gonna nail this out of park I Just know what’s gonna be awesome. I didn’t even ask to see the drawing until I showed up in the studio there the day of the tattoo and he it like he goes I can’t believe you didn’t ask me to see it and I said I had total of fate that you’re gonna do.

14:26.70
inkedway
Um, really.

14:28.74
inkedway
Just 12

14:39.47
Sandra Price
And I saw the drawing and I’m like she’s perfect. Let’s do it. You know, no changes nothing and then he says you know what I think I want to make it a little bigger I go make it as big as you want you know and I feel like I got an amazing piece because I just gave him the freedom to do all that and I had the trust in him.

14:41.37
inkedway
No not skin.

14:56.49
inkedway
Do you like being in that same position as an artist where someone gives you full faith and says just do it I don’t care what I you know what? you whatever you want.

14:58.70
Sandra Price
That no matter what I was gonna love it.

15:11.57
Sandra Price
Um, so I know it can be a little nerve-wracking I think with new clients I’m a little nervous because I don’t know them and I don’t know what level of trust they have in me. So I think with a new client I do have a lot of regular clients who are like that they’re like.

15:15.88
inkedway
Um, yeah.

15:28.70
Sandra Price
Um’ just gonna show up and whatever we’re’re gonna do.. It’s Awesome. You know so them I Really Love.. It’s super comfortable to work with them. Um, you know I have ah an another gentleman who’s getting a full body soup from me and he’s kind of been like that you know like where I just I I remember 1 time I was and I got myself in such. So deep with this um was I was tattooing some pieces on him and we’re just chatting and stuff and I told him I go you know what be really interesting to do I go I go you know I think one day I want to I want to tattoo a snake Skeleton You know.

16:04.73
inkedway
Um, yeah.

16:06.24
Sandra Price
And he’s like okay, let’s do it? Well, he’s six foot 4 and he wanted it from his mid-rib cage all the way down to almost his knee so gigantic snake skeleton with a ton of detail.

16:19.44
inkedway
Um, oh wow.

16:25.78
Sandra Price
Came out really great I Really enjoy doing it but it was stressful like laying that stencil getting it in place getting the initial like line work done on it because we were going to do it negative space. He has a lot of trash pulket style on him. So um.

16:27.99
inkedway
Um I bet. Um.

16:42.50
inkedway
Um, ah.

16:44.40
Sandra Price
It It was all about like shading the other areas not shading the actual Skeleton we were trying to make it and then and then we decided we’re going to put all these florals around it. But the florals were going to be X-ray florals so they would look like X-rays of flowers.

16:46.49
inkedway
Um, right.

17:01.15
Sandra Price
So we were just piling on the complexity over and over and like as much as as hard as it was to do I’m really pleased with it I Really like how it turned out but I was just like oh my God like when I was outlining that that snake I was like what did I get myself in you.

17:07.43
inkedway
Um.

17:18.83
Sandra Price
Is gigantic and there’s so many he’s he works at the zoo so he knows all of the you know who works with the venomous creatures so he knows and he goes you know snakes aren’t it isn’t tail. It’s ribs. And goes all the all of those that you’re seeing that’s just ribs and ribs and ribs and reds. So you know hundreds and hundreds of ribs of the drawings on him. So.

17:43.20
inkedway
Um, yeah I can imagine how time consuming that would be did you take all day to do that.

17:46.15
Sandra Price
Oh yeah, yeah, and he’s got like sacred geometry and he’s got patterns and all this stuff and it’s so funny because sometimes my coworkers from the other room. They’ll walk in and they take a look at him.

18:03.30
inkedway
Um, yeah.

18:03.13
Sandra Price
And they just look what I’m doing and they’re just like Nope and they turn around and walk out because you’re like I would never do that. That’s insane. That’s crazy. What are you doing.

18:11.50
inkedway
I’d love if you have pictures you could share them and we’ll include them.

18:15.45
Sandra Price
Yeah I will try to get some pictures I Really want to I’m been trying to get a full picture of his snake. It’s just difficult because of where it’s placed since it’s his full side. Um.

18:25.37
inkedway
Um, yeah, it’s ah such a hot.

18:31.52
Sandra Price
Didn’t feel comfortable making him strip in the studio completely like we had these special shorts that we like put would pull up or pull down but I kind of want to get a whole a whole photo of it. Totally unobstructed and his mom. Actually he yeah his mom actually is a really good photographer.

18:31.82
inkedway
Yeah.

18:50.15
Sandra Price
So I just really need to push and go hey can your mom can you pose for some pictures and have your mom take photo because she does like really great lighting and everything and try to get a piece a good photo photo of that piece from him.

19:00.31
inkedway
Um, that’s inform you.

19:05.60
inkedway
Yeah, well we are getting to the end of what we normally try and stay within for timeframe. Of course we can edit things down or whatever. But ah if you have anything you’d like to promote if you have like new projects in the work or.

19:14.61
Sandra Price
Um, yeah.

19:23.60
inkedway
Anything like that now would be his time.

19:27.15
Sandra Price
Oh gosh no I don’t have any like new projects like my projects are my 2 junior artists that I’ve been promoting and try and get them to work out there. They’re both in their late 20 s and that’s crystal and and cloud um, and they’re both still under. Learning stages but they’re doing great. Everybody else is the senior artists have all been working you know ten plus years and um I always warn people I was like hey just know like if you want an appointment. It’s gonna probably be a couple of months out um which I don’t think.

19:56.40
inkedway
Point. So.

20:01.77
inkedway
1 makes it.

20:01.92
Sandra Price
Bad amount of time to work to wait on a thing you know three months I don’t feel like it’s bad but some people are like oh my god I got wait three months for a tattoo appointment. Why can’t I just walk in and I’m like well even the junior artists are booked out a few weeks in advance. So but yeah, you know I’m just.

20:16.76
inkedway
Um, we do.

20:20.48
Sandra Price
Happy with my little shop and that we stay busy and and are doing doing a lot of tattoos people really loves we. We got an award recently. We got our was it six years 6 or seven years in a row. Best tattoo shop in Ventura County

20:35.10
inkedway
Very cool.

20:38.80
Sandra Price
Through the through readers choice award and stuff like that. So that’s always nice to hear that people like us that much.

20:46.83
inkedway
Yeah,, that’s great, all right? Well if you don’t have anything else. You’d like to share we can call it here. Um, and if you have any recommendations or you want any of your junior artists to be interviewed. Um, that I’m happy to do that. So.

21:07.38
Sandra Price
Ah, yeah, ah, there’s crystal and Cloud they’re both listed on our white lotus.