Beyond tattoos

Local artist Emily Rodkey usually works in ink, on the ever-changing canvas of the human body. But Friday night she’ll show another aspect of her creativity, acrylic paintings, in a post-Gallery Walk exhibit hosted by High Tide Tattoos as part of its Featured Artist series. The show will be held at the Taqueria from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and will include live music by Portland-based musician Mitchell Sumner.

Rodkey, currently the only female tattooer in Juneau, said intense color is integral to her designs, whether she’s creating a painting or an original tattoo.

“My paintings are always mega colorful,” Rodkey said via email this week. “I have a hard time toning that down. I really enjoy color theory, and it definitely reflects in my paintings.”

Rodkey cautioned that her show includes provocative imagery and might not be suitable for those with young children.

“It might not be your cup of tea if you’ve got kids,” she said.

Hide Tide, where Rodkey works, began its Featured Artist series in August, with a show by Jollene Chup, aka Fakewitch. High Tide owner Dave Lang said he expects to schedule the shows quarterly, with a goal of showcasing art that isn’t restricted to tattoo art or tattoo-based imagery.

“If Emily did not tattoo for a living, we would still be featuring her artwork because we love it,” Lang said via e-mail. “I feel it stands by itself without the label of tattoo art, which is a goal of the series. It’s about promoting artists and artwork outside of tattooing that we love.”

Rodkey’s interest in art started at a young age. Initially she thought she might go into animation, an art form that continues to influence her work today.

“I was really into traditional animation, works by Preston Blair, Don Bluth, and art styles in that vein,” she said. “I think you can definitely see animation influences in a lot of the work I do.”

She got her first tattoo at 19, and soon thereafter starting learning her craft in Anchorage through an apprenticeship at a shop near a military base.

“It really opened my eyes to not only the world of tattooing but my local art scene as well,” Rodkey said.

She’s now been a licensed tattoo artist for a little over two years, and said she’s building up a following in part through an Instagram account where she posts unedited original drawings (@rodkeyimagery).

“I really enjoy drawing ladies, and kinkier designs, as well as self-love and empowerment stuff,” she said. “I’m always stoked when someone wants a original design  tattoo from me, I’ve been lucky to have folks coming in specifically for my style. (On my Instagram account) I post a lot of dirty, sexy, goofy, and silly drawings and I am grateful to have the folks that come through and are liking what I produce, so much so that they get it tattooed on them forever. It’s pretty amazing … I love my job, and I’m incredibly lucky to be in this lifestyle. It’s a huge part of me.”

Rodkey’s show will include merchandise including shirts, stickers and ski masks.

Lang said upcoming shows will feature photographers and artists in other mediums, as well as limited edition goods created in collaboration with artists. The series also represents High Tide’s interest in collaborating with other local businesses; shows are held at the Taqueria in part for this reason.

“We wanted to let the featured artists’ work stand alone and not compete with all of the imagery in the shop,” Lang said. “By taking it out of the shop, we also get to bring work with our friends in the downtown business community, which has been a goal of High Tide’s since opening its doors in 2009.”


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