Owner of Flesh Hound Tattoo Studio expands her creativity

Friday, December 16, 2011
Artist Renee Roark-Gordon paints Monday inside her Cape Girardeau business, Flesh Hound Tattoo. (Laura Simon)

Owner of Flesh Hound Tattoo Studio Renee Roark-Gordon's artwork is not just skin deep. In addition to the work she does as a tattoo artist, she also dabbles in oil painting.

Roark-Gordon has been a tattoo artist for 11 years. Her career as an oil painter began about two years ago.

Roark-Gordon said that while studying art at Southeast Missouri State University she did a lot of drawing but never took an oil painting class. She said she was trying to teach herself but decided to take classes at the Cleda Curtis School of Art in Oran, Mo.

"She really taught me everything I know," Roark-Gordon said.

Roark-Gordon chose to focus on developing her portrait skills because she wanted to do color portrait tattoos. She saw a demand in the area for tattoo artists who could produce these portraits.

Roark-Gordon said she tattoos likes she paints. She takes aspects of painting and applies them directly to tattooing.

"[Portraits] are one of the most difficult to do in painting and tattooing," Roark-Gordon said.

Her career as a tattoo artist began when she took a tattoo apprenticeship after graduating from Southeast. She originally considered the idea of learning to tattoo because of her brother. He was getting an arm sleeve tattoo and suggested she learn to tattoo so she could do his tattoos for free, she said.

Despite her 11 years in the business, Roark-Gordon said she never intended to make a career out of being a tattoo artist. She said the cards just fell into place and it progressed into a career.

Within one year of her apprenticeship, she bought the business from her mentor and changed the name to Flesh Hound Tattoo Studio.

Roark-Gordon took interest in the ideology of her art becoming a part of someone's everyday life.

"Whenever people purchase art, it is something that they walk past and admire now and again ... art on someone's body is part of who they are in everyday life," Roark-Gordon said.

She prefers to do tattoos that are not meant to be reproduced.

"I want to give someone something special for them only," Roark-Gordon said.

Roark-Gordon said that being a tattoo artist allows her to make changes in peoples lives. Sometimes, a tattoo can bring closure to a bad situation or to people who feel lost.

One of her customers had been in an abusive relationship. The girl's boyfriend forced her to get his name tattooed on her arm.

Roark-Gordon later covered the name with a tattoo of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.

"When she looked at that tattoo it was an emotional scar. I was able to take that away," Roark-Gordon said.

In addition to running the studio and being a tattoo artist, Roark-Gordon takes classes once a week at the Cleda Curtis School of Art, painting on her own and raising two young children, ages 6 and 8.

Roark-Gordon incorporated the two aspects of her artistic career in one of her oil paintings titled "Homage to Micky." It is a painting with skulls, a flower and her Micky Sharpz tattoo machine in hues of red. She said the painting was difficult because red is a tough pigment to work with. It was also rewarding , she said, because it has been well received by those not in the tattoo industry.

For more information on Flesh Hound Tattoo Studio or Roark-Gordon's work as a tattoo artist, visit www.facebook.com/pages/flesh-hound-tatto.... For more information about her work as a painter visit reneeroarkart.com.

ajones@semissourian.com

388-3654

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