Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roses Aren't Red, But Mandy Wolak Is True Blue

Mandy (aka Inkgoddess, Milwaukee Mandy) is a loud talking albeit somewhat shy tattoo artist, hailing from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.  The girl is fascinating, a clever mix of flirty fun and serious.  Her portfolio is a fun mix of styles, traditional with realism twist, and a new skool angle.   Her clients are raving fans.  She's been tattooing over eight years, is now at Absolute Tattoo and the girl is always busy. She is a truly kindhearted girl with serious dedication to the industry.
Here's  what she had to say about things:

 What first attracted you to tattoos, tattooing?

I fell in love with tattoos at 16 and drew up my first tattoo and had it inked on my 18th birthday when Tie Me Down was still in business.
I drew tattoos for my friends, it didn't work out that well. Then, I worked a shop called Cloud Nine and helped clients with waivers, scrubbed floors and tubes-- you know--basic bitch work.  I did whatever I could until I got my apprenticeship.
I know that all too well-I can relate. So where did  you apprentice?
I apprenticed at Madd Tatter Ink on 43rd and Foresthome which is now relocated in Windlake  (Wisconsin), I believe. I was there for about 1 year and then I had an interview at Absolute Tattooing --I have been there since 2003. It was at Absolute when I really began learning different techniques and skills that have led me to where I am today ,doing conventions, traveling and whatnot. Because of the great opportunity of working at Absolute I have met so many talented artists and people that have really motivated me and helped me find the creative juices inside. So now that I have a little better understanding of my art and where I would like to be, in particular styles I am very fond of so I know how to promote myself for custom tattooing. It took me about 8 years to get to this point in my life. Now I strictly want to do custom work of my style of art. When I mean my style, I mean new skool and a bit traditional and a bit of realism all mixed together.

What do you love about being a tattoo artist?

photo provided by Mandy

I love almost everything about tattooing. Art can go anywhere the mind can take it and the more you keep an open mind about things like styles and learning techniques than the better artist you'll become. I think camaraderie in the shop is very important and a relationship with other local artists is definitely beneficial to growth not only in but outside your community as an artist. I have learned that you can collaborate with artists from all over the world which is made possible by Internet and digital design. If digital is not always at your fingertips then traveling and doing conventions is a great way for an artist to get his/her name out there and also expand your knowledge of who is at the top of their game in the tattoo community today.

So, what sucks about tattooing?
Only thing I really despise is all the haters but its inevitable and they are everywhere so the best way to stay at the top of your game is always try to out-do yourself because there is always someone better than you out there so just be the best you can be and people will recognize that and if they like your work then you’re in business ha-ha.
So, how about getting tattooed, as a collector, what’s important to you?
Getting tattooed, for me, is like therapy. I think that most people have a close relationship with their artist and more than likely they become friends and the bonus part is you get to walk away with kick ass art on your body forever. Tattoos are also expression for me in the fact that it is just how I want my body to look. Certain tattoos are in certain places, sometimes based on their importance in my life. I will not stop until I have everything on my body that I have in mind. I can appreciate all styles of Tattoos such as cartoons, portraits, traditional, script, etc. I do have a bit of writing on me and sometimes a picture just can’t do enough so you just gotta get the words plain and simple.

Girl, what’s that on your knuckles?
My knuckles are a good example of that I guess. PURE is on my right hand which is the sleeve of all cartoon characters from the 80's and EVOL is on my left with the sleeve of fireflies and Japanese water and cherry blossoms. Also it spells love backwards I did that purposely because my left sleeve is the adult concept so of course you have to have love and evil cause that’s life in general. My second set of knuckles spells RESTLESS when I interlock and bend my fingers sort of in a praying manner but not quite. I am restless in the sense that I am always looking to travel somewhere to tattoo and to explore, it’s my absolute favorite thing to do in life.

I love, love, love your throat piece. What’s the story behind that?
My throat is probably the most important tattoo on my body at the moment. It is for my Grandmother who passed last year in late august. It’s a polish eagle that says in Polish I will never leave you. I was her caregiver the last 2 years of her life and we formed a bond that is not very typical of grandmother/granddaughter. She became my best friend in the whole process and she is the only one on earth who never judged me and absolutely loved me for me and loved my ink just as much. Thus the placement on my throat was key I was , and am proud to be her granddaughter and she was of the most greatest importance in my life..... so what better place? I guess if I had to say it might be my favorite due to importance in life but other than that I love all my tattoos equally down to the ones that I will eventually cover. I believe even if you cover a tattoo technically it is still underneath so u never really completely get rid of it you just don’t see it, but in reality it is and always will be with you just as a person’s past is I guess. Now removing is a whole different story ha-ha.

Which tattoo do people ask you about the most?
Being a heavily tattooed woman can make for a pretty unusual and interesting time depending on where I am at the moment. I hope I don’t intimidate people as often as I hear those making snickers or comments behind my back but I have been told that quite a bit in my life. Of course to me that’s silly and is definitely not my goal. My tattoos are exactly that, MINE, which means they are for me and it’s easy to say you don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks but sometimes you have to give a shit if it’s your employer , relatives or what not deciding your fate at the moment. I am fortunate enough that tattoos , piercings and self expression are encouraged and sometimes mandatory.

What about the boys, are they intimidated by your skills or your ink?
Being a female in the tattoo industry is a whole different story. Now there are a bit more females tattooing in Milwaukee but when I started there weren’t many. I have always been in some male dominated activity from young on whether it was ice hockey or tattooing. I believe what challenges us only makes us stronger , so , a lot of times women can be way more on top of things than men because we have to strive for what we want that much harder. There are always new techniques and tools being introduced in the industry and no matter who we are or male or female it is up to us to know about them and educate our fellow artists and keep the industry moving forward. Such things are Digital Art, Neuma Machines, Rotary machines, and always new ink. The basic concept however never changes : design a great custom piece for a client, do it well, make them happy and bottom line produce great ink and they'll keep coming back for more

What are your top 5 favorite things?
well done ink on people, Aaron Cain Machines, the relationships I have built over the years with artists and clients, tattoo conventions, and my co-workers

Top 5 turn offs?
Impatient people, terrible tattoos on great looking people, tattoos on pets, Ego's, and tattooing names of significant others.
photo provided by Mandy

photo provided by Mandy

Do you have any advice to share for folks looking to get tattooed, what do you look for in a shop?
The best advice I could give people is, first and foremost, have a general idea of what you want . Then search for an artist or a style that you would prefer for your tattoo. A way of going about that is looking at other peoples tattoos and then check who did their ink if you like the style. Too often people look at other's ink and actually like their custom tattoo and bring that to the artist and I think people are then missing the whole point. Get custom ink! Look for cleanliness of the artists and the shop-- maybe location matters and maybe it doesn’t. Sometimes the artist you find may not be in your town, is it important enough that you may want to travel to get ink? Bottom line you have to be comfortable with the shop and artist to get the experience you’re looking for.

What do you do outside of your job? What keeps the juices flowing?
Besides tattooing I mostly draw, paint, and craft projects. I enjoy concerts and travel as much as my pocket will allow.
A definite downfall to traveling a lot is you build a wide range of clientele in other states--sometimes your base clientele at home will then sort of get neglected --so you have to keep in contact always and be up on all your e mails and facebooks and myspaces as much as possible. If I didn’t utilize the internet as much as I do for my career, I wouldn’t be where I am today-- nor would I have the base clientele that I do now.

How important is it to draw and create in other mediums? 
It expands your mind there's things that arent tattooable that help you, like light sources in photography, I wish Icould do more of it.

Is your family supportive of your career choice?
Art was always my career plan but I really never thought it would have been tattooing because of my lack of knowledge about it in HS at age 16. It was pretty heartbreaking for my parents when I dropped out of college my senior year but I believe I have made the right choice. I love what I do. They have always supported me with what I want out of my life and they continue to do so. Needless to say I still have a year or 2 left of school till I get my art degree -- and now I would probably take some additional courses to help with my tattooing.

What do you feel you contribute to the tattoo industry and society in general?
I write music and poetry and am attempting to learn acoustic guitar but my main focus is still tattooing. I really don’t know that I have contributed much to the industry at all except for the ink that I put on my clients in the last 9 years. I have made it into some magazines for my art and for the ink I have on myself but really nothing major. The most important thing to me is the expression on my clients’ faces as they look at their new ink -- that’s what drives me to want to contribute as much as I can and hopefully open new doors for myself in the future.
I love what i do, I love everything about it. Its the best feeling in the world, its an honor

Convention Schedule: is still open, she's hoping to get about a lot more. Untill then Hit Mandy Wolak up at
Absolute Tattooing
262 255 4884


  1. Hello dear! I am Liz, I met you at the South Dakota convention. This blog is excellent. :]

  2. Hey girl! Thanks!
    I had so much fun in south dak!

  3. Beautiful and amazing! I’ve been contemplating ink for 3 years and my sister has a tattoo too, so the pressure was on me to get one for a while but I ran into a big problem – no idea WHAT art to use.

  4. we've moved to
    thanks, mAryd