Alisha Gory is our newest member of the FK Irons Pro Team, as of January 2021.
We're proud to have her on the team, not just for her tattooing style, awesome portraiture and the fact that she's so easy to work with, but because of her background; how it shaped her and made her a champion against prejudice and sexism.
Q: What in your childhood shaped you into who you are today?
Alisha Gory: Moving round a lot and growing up in international schools definitely influenced me to be more open-minded because I grew up in a very conservative environment and I don’t think that I would be a tattoo artist right now if I wasn’t exposed to so many different cultures.
My parents sheltered me when I was growing up and, in a way, it made me become the opposite of what my parents are.
Q: What action can heavily tattooed women do to be more accepted in American and other societies?
Even though we may look different on the outside, we’re still human beings, we still feel the same way, want the same things, want to be accepted. I don’t think we are any different because we choose to look different.
I think that it’s really important, especially nowadays, not to be so prejudice just by someone’s appearance.
Q: What are your next steps in your career?
AG: [laughs] Shit, I don’t know!
Q: What are you looking to accomplish through your career?
AG: I want to change people’s perspective on women’s beauty and appearance.
I just feel like I got stereotyped so much, especially when I go back home in Korea. Looking like this just really comes at a price as a woman because they think I’m not as beautiful because I’ve “ruined” myself with getting all of these tattoos, so I would really like to just change people’s perspective on that.
Q: How do you go about changing people’s perspective?
Q: Your interviews in the media often revolve around being a female tattoo artist. Did the journalists or publications choose that angle, or did you champion that topic yourself?
AG: I champion it myself because I’m a really strong feminist. I think it’s because I grew up with a dad that was extremely toxic with how he thought women should be.
Q: Are there any women that you’d like to give a shout out to, that you look up to and/or appreciate in your career or life?
AG: Megan Massacre, who is a very close friend of mine. I also work at her shop and she’s just an amazing tattoo artist, amazing friend, amazing person.
She works really hard to get a lot of female tattoo artists to be busy [with work] and most of the tattoo artists are women. I just love that she’s created that safe, comfortable work environment for us. She’s just an amazing friend to have in the tattoo industry.
Now, about tattooing--------------
Q: Are there some tricks that you’ve learned throughout your time?
AG: I’ve come to figure out a couple of different methods that I like.
When I really started tattooing what I really wanted to do was really soft shading. It’s one of the toughest things to master in tattooing. I’m not really that good at soft shading with a mag, I’m more comfortable using fine line and single needles and three liners and stuff.
So I would use a tight three and fill it really slowly by feathering it and going back and forth.
For me, that trick really worked to create a soft gradient when it comes to portraits and stuff.
Portraits is something I’ve always liked. Even as a kid I used to draw portraits a lot. I’m just good at doing faces. It’s what I enjoy.
Q: What do you think of FK Iron’s wireless Flux tattoo machine so far?
AG: The first thing I noticed with this machine is that it runs really smoothly. I love that there are so many different settings. I was messing around with a couple of settings.
It took me a minute with my first tattoo to figure out what setting I liked. But once I figured it out, like it’s really cool that I can put it to different settings depending on what effect I want.
Q: What’s your experience been with other FK Irons machines?
AG: I would just borrow an FK Irons machine from my co-workers and I always really liked it – a lot!
With that machine I was putting a pretty big line and I feel that sometimes with rotaries it’s a bit of a struggle to make big lines. I went pretty smoothly.
Q: Most challenging tattoo you’ve ever done?
AG: Mostly when I was an apprentice a while ago. Every tattoo I did was a challenge. But I think it really depends on location of the tattoo. With ribs and stuff it’s usually a kind of a struggle, I’m not crazy about free-handing scripts and stuff like that.
But one that stands out... this guy, he wanted a Golden Gate Bridge on his ribs and he also had insane OCD! After I tattooed him, he would take pictures of it with his phone and zoom in and nitpick at it [laughing].
He went home and then emailed me, and came back with: “There’s this little glitch here can you fix it?” I remember that. That was pretty intense. I think I was pretty sweaty towards the end of that tattoo, also!
Why did I even say “yes” to that? It was really my fault. I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t need that much of a challenge! [laughing]
Q: Does any tattoo stand out particularly where you felt awesome and you really liked it?
AG: This portrait I did on this girl’s thigh. The design was really sick, the outcome was really sick, and I think I reposted that tattoo a couple of times on my Instagram because I love it so much. It’s exactly my style and pretty much what I want to do all of the time.
Q: What’s your favorite style to tattoo?
AG: Somewhere between illustrative and realism when it comes to faces. I still like illustrative if it has a design element to it, but at the same time the shading close to realism, that’s what I want to do the whole time.
Q: Did you have "a moment" when you felt ready to tattoo on your own after apprenticing?
AG: That’s a tricky question. I feel like I always felt like I was never ready. I was just thrown in there. I guess once I started working with really good tattooers and getting a lot of appointments, I thought “ok, I’m definitely not an apprentice anymore,” at the same time I feel like I’m always learning.
It’s always a learning experience.
My mentors were like “you’re ready to graduate your apprenticeship,” and they started letting me do walk-ins in the beginning.
When they told me it was done with my apprenticeship, that was pretty exciting because that was a rough journey, being an apprentice. I do not miss that, for sure!
Q: Advice to apprentices?
AG: You just have to be really consistent and you gotta have a lot of patience. A lot of apprentices, they just want to become famous really fast through Instagram, tattoo a celebrity.
With time that could come, but you just have to focus on becoming a better tattooer and stay humble. I think that’s the most important is to stay humble.
Q: What do you do to prepare yourself and focus when tattooing?
AG: When I’m ready to tattoo, I need to get amped, so I just always play trap. I love listening to trap. I can’t listen to slow songs when I’m tattooing, it’ll put me to sleep! [laughing]
It was a pleasure to have Alisha tattoo a client in the production studio and interview her.