Amanda Wachob loves a good contradiction.
After starting most mornings in the yoga studio, she’ll “hit the bodega for a cigarette and a coffee” before going home to meditate. It’s “counterintuitive,” she admits, but less surprising in the broader context of what she does for a living: Wachob is a renowned tattoo artist known for her gorgeous watercolor tattoos.
She built her career by “rejecting and challenging a lot of the conservative viewpoints held by the tattoo industry of what a tattoo should look like or be,” she says. Coming from a fine art and photography background, Wachob had a vision, but zero tattooing knowledge. When a tattoo artist friend let her know about an apprenticeship opportunity, she jumped. “A whole new world opened up for me,” she says, “and I became obsessed with trying to figure out how to do it well. Tattooing is extremely hard initially. Well, it’s hard for years, really.”
And while the vivid florals for which she is known don’t immediately conjure up notions of defiance, it’s not difficult to recognize that she’s doing something different than your run-of-the mill mermaid on a tricep.
This willingness to buck convention has panned out swimmingly for Wachob. She recently finished a residency at the Whitney Museum of American Art, during which she tattooed love poems on thirty people in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Wachob is in the business of creating living art, which she characterizes as “a tattoo that looks more like painting rather than a cartoon or an illustration. It’s a full-color tattoo done without a graphic black outline, so the color really pops.”
Her run at the Whitney comes on the heels of other stints at the Met, the New Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. And in the instance that you’re looking to get some permanent fine art on your bicep, well, take a number: This trailblazer is nearly impossible to book.
Wachob seeks refuge from her hectic schedule in a self-care routine that, like her, exists in seeming binaries that keep her centered. Here’s how she does it.
Power Mantra: “Power.”
My power mantra really actually is just “Power.”
Skincare Essential: A sharp micro roller
I love a sharp micro roller! Although maybe I’m just partial to pins. I am a tattoo artist/pinpusher, after all.
Can’t-Miss Podcast: Radiolab
Anything that discusses science and philosophy, really. I’ve listened to every episode of Radiolab.
Happy Place Outfit: Black leather biker jacket
A worn, black leather biker jacket. I’m still searching for the perfect one and have a bit of a collection going because of this, but generally, I put any of them on and I instantly feel like myself. I also have one that feels like a warm hug from a sexy boy.
Currently Listening To:
An endless mish mosh of new and old: Yaeji, Megan Thee Stallion, Alice Smith, Dirty Beaches, Nipsey Hussle, Total Control, The Maccabees, ’60s French pop, ’70s darkwave, ’80s Italian disco, random vinyl found at flea markets.
Productivity Hack: Vedic meditation
Learning Vedic meditation has been one of the most important things I have ever done for myself. I meditate twenty minutes twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Scientific studies have shown that there are biological changes that occur in the brain when you meditate. I don’t react to stress in the same way that I used to; it has almost eliminated any sort of anxiety, and it’s made me about 15 percent happier. The benefits have been quite profound.
Most-Opened App: Instagram
Insta, usually. And Happy Noise stickers. I love them and send those around a lot.
Good Hair Secret-Weapon: R+Co Rockaway Salt Spray
I have naturally wavy hair, but never realized this for the longest time because it was always just out-of-control frizzy. So, hair product has really made all the difference in taming my mop. I’ve tried all different kinds of products for curly hair, but keep going back to a drugstore hair gel called göt2b. It keeps my waves wavin’. I also love a good sea salt beach spray, like R+Co.
Flats, sneakers or heels:
Kitten heels! They’re cute and actually comfortable, and they’re a tall girl’s friend. I’m obsessed with YSL kitten heel booties, and I always keep a look out for vintage. I have a vintage pair of kitten heel winklepickers that have a steel heel.
Self-care method of choice:
A massage, please!
Bonus GIF that best describes you: