August 5th, 2017
Jesse Gussow

I’ve got quite a few tattoos. I think the first two I got were black and grey, and since then I’ve always wanted colour because I find colour more popping and visually appealing. However, tattoo artist Chloe Mayes and her beautifully detailed Neo-Traditional Black and Grey tattoos are quickly changing my mind. Her work is darkly mysterious and extremely detailed. Her line work is tight, thin and sharp. If I didn’t live on the other side of the world you better believe that I’d have at least one tattoo by the amazing artist!


Where are you from?

I am currently in Queenstown, New Zealand.



How did you get interested in tattooing and art? How long have you been tattooing?

I kind of tripped and fell into tattooing. I've drawn/painted/created stuff ever since I can remember. I've been tattooing for 3 years; still loads to learn!



What was your apprenticeship like? What challenges were different for you compared to a male apprentice?

I had two attempts at an apprenticeship. The first one was a horrendous waste of time as I was basically used as a free cleaning lady. I did however, learn how NOT to tattoo. I walked out and soon after a friend happened to mention me to my (now) lovely boss Greg, who gave me a second shot. I don't think my experience would've been any different if I'd been male but I was told at an interview at another shop they would "make me cry". I think, like any job, there are descent people and there are douchebags.



What's the first tattoo you got? What's the first tattoo you did?

The first tattoo I got was a feather on my wrist by Whetu Newman at West Coast Tattoo in New Plymouth. I swore at the time it would be the only tattoo I ever got but I remember someone saying "you’re gonna be addicted!" Haha. The first tattoo I made was a sunflower I think.



How would you describe your style?

I like to do a couple of different styles. I started out mostly doing black and grey realism, now I'm enjoying a bit of neo-trad. It gives more scope for creativity and I like the clean solid look. But I'll give most things a go if I feel I can do it justice.



Which is your preferred style to tattoo?

Probably neo-trad - although it's hard to pick a favourite.



What tattoo style do you wish you were more proficient at?

Haha everything! There's always room for improvement and I am definitely my own worst critic, but I think that's a good thing in my chosen profession.



What is the tattoo culture like in New Zealand and specifically Queenstown?

I would say here in New Zealand most people are pretty relaxed about it - you don't get to many filthy looks! Queenstown has a very young, transient population. You see a lot of tattooed people here. So if that scares you this probably isn't the place to visit haha.



How many Lord of the Rings tourists have come into the shop wanting a Lord of the Rings tattoo?

Hahaha! Well, my boss actually tattooed Peter Jackson so....



If you weren't a tattoo artist, what job would you have?

Ugh, it doesn't bear thinking about. Cross that awful bridge if ever it comes.



What have you tattooed so much that you are sick of it?

Mountains! And tiny outline anything, whatever Pinterest tells you is trendy haha.



If you could have complete free reign for a tattoo, choosing the location, style - everything, what would you do?

Oooh, that's a tricky one... Probably a big, dark, neo-trad witchy back piece!



Do you ever travel around the world doing guest spots at different shops?

No, I haven't tattooed for very long and I'm extremely shy, but I would love to!



Is there still a stigma associated with being a tattoo artist or having tattoos? Is there anything we can do to change it?

Yes, I think there is. I'm not super bothered by it personally but I know a lot of people still are. I don't think the kind of people who make superficial judgements like that are able to change their views. Ignore them, keep improving your skills. Maybe one day they may.



What's the most difficult aspect about being a tattoo artist that most people wouldn't understand?

Those of us who only do custom work spend a LOT of time drawing/designing. We don't get paid for that. And then you'll get a customer who wants to change everything and complains that tattoos cost to much. They're kind of a bummer. But hey, I'd still way rather have my job than theirs!



Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies? Or some other dessert?

Hahaha! We don't have those here! I love my Gran's lemon meringue pie. If you ever come to New Zealand you'll have to try it. 😉

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