Sketching, painting and tattooing are some of the many talents of SF State sophomore Hailey Mead.
The 19-year-old studio art major has expanded her artistic ability outside of school through her small stick-and-poke tattooing business. The intricate, manual needle-and-ink process of stick and poke allows Mead to build trustworthy relationships with her clients and freely express her artistic style.
Mead’s artistic interest began in high school. While she wasn’t as strong in other schooling subjects, art became her main interest. Mead became inspired by the people closest to her.
“My older brother made these comics growing up and I always thought that he was […] so good at art and drawing,” she said.
“My little sister started drawing things, but her style was so specific, she would only draw monsters and it was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen. I always
wanted to be able to have what they have, they both knew their style so well.”
Her siblings’ distinct artistic styles inspired Mead to find her own. After coming to SF State to study art, Mead feels she is on track to finding her own style.
“Anyone can actually draw something but it’s nice to sit in the class and actually gain a different perspective on things,” Mead said. “Now I’m slowly
starting to find my style.”
Javon Martin, Mead’s roommate, appreciates the art and creativity she shares with him.
“It’s cool seeing the art that she makes and having it hung up on our walls because it makes it feel more like a home,” Martin said.
After finding her style, which features abstract faces and bold colors, Mead’s small business of stick and poke tattooing was born.
“I always had the idea in high school, like that would be so dope to be a tattoo artist, but obviously I still didn’t have my style then so it was hard to make up all these flash sheets when I didn’t even know what I wanted to do,” she said.
Mead began tattooing after one of her roommates, Derek Fernandez, taught her how to.
After Fernandez encouraged Mead to tattoo him, she realized that she had a knack for stick and poke and ended up practicing on others. Now, half ofMead’s roommates have a stick and poke tattoo from her on different parts of their bodies.
“Derek showed me literally everything,” she said. “Even after the first couple I did, he would still set up everything for me. So if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have done any of it. He’s the reason why I like doing it.”
Mead feels a sense of pride in her artwork, as she is reminded of her artistic talent every time she is with her tattooed friends.
“I look on my roommate Eliana’s wrist and it’s literally my art there,” Mead said.
SF State sophomore Eliana Hsieh, one of Mead’s clients and closest friends, said she knew she wanted to try a stick and poke after she saw Mead practicing on others. Hsieh has a small tattoo on the side of her hand that resembles a twinkling star.
“One day I saw this design and I knew that it was the one because it was small and simple,” Hsieh said. “I knew that I wanted Hailey to do it for me.”
As Mead continues to explore artistic expression through tattooing and other media, she expresses that art is more than just simply creating something or putting a pencil to a piece of paper for her. She sees art as a feeling that comes along with the memories of its creation.
“Art doesn’t always have to be the tangible things we create,” she said. “Life itself is art and people have beautiful insight on the little things they’ve seen and done.”