Tattoo artists expand creativity into community

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Tattoo artist Crystal Scarff paints Frankenstein on a window at Jade’s River Queen. It was one of several McGregor businesses, including her own, that Scarff lent her creative skills to this fall. (Photo by Kim Corpian)

“I did the outside of my business because I want the town to look cool. I’m trying to inspire people to say, ‘Ooo, competition. Let’s do this. Let’s make the whole town look like this,’” Crystal Scarff said. “Honestly, if I didn’t get wore out and didn’t have this full-time job, I’d paint everyone’s windows. I love making the town look festive.” This image shows her work at Free Spirit Boutique. (Photo by Kim Corpian)

In addition to painting the INKspiration windows, Crystal Scarff created a 3-D installation using pumpkins, styrofoam and insulation. (Photo by Kim Corpian)

Sherée Scarff completes a leaf design during a face painting event in McGregor’s Triangle Park earlier in October. She and fellow tattoo artist Crystal Scarff will also offer face painting at Saturday’s Halloween Parade and Festival. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

Tattoo artists Crystal and Sherée Scarff are expanding their creative talents outside the walls of INKspiration Tattoo Studio and into the McGregor community this fall.

 

Crystal has brought the shop windows—and other downtown business windows—to life with fun Halloween images, and the two started offering face painting at community events.

 

“I love it so much,” said Crystal, who noted a change to more daytime hours at INKspiration has opened up opportunities to practice art outside tattooing.

 

“In the last year, it was all tattooing,” she shared. “But it’s always good to do different mediums. Now, I’m like Ariel who finally has her legs.”

 

Encouraged by the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce sponsored Halloween decorating contest, Crystal painted a mummy and pumpkins onto INKspiration’s front windows. Some pumpkins are even 3-D, protruding from the glass with macabre mouths and eyeballs.

 

There was no game plan going into it, she quipped.

 

“I went to Walmart and thought I was going to do a skull collage, but someone had bought all the skulls,” Crystal said. “So I bought styrofoam stuff, insulation and pumpkins, and I went from there. The mummy was the last part.”

 

After decorating her own windows, Crystal painted a scarecrow and fall leaves at Free Spirit Boutique, then Frankenstein at Jade’s River Queen.

 

“I did the outside of my business because I want the town to look cool. I’m trying to inspire people to say, ‘Ooo, competition. Let’s do this. Let’s make the whole town look like this,’” Crystal said. “Honestly, if I didn’t get wore out and didn’t have this full-time job, I’d paint everyone’s windows. I love making the town look festive.”

 

It was that love for the community that prompted Crystal to say yes when fellow business owner and chamber president Katie Ruff asked if she would do face painting at McGregor’s Halloween Parade and Festival. Crystal enlisted Sherée to help.

 

Together, they researched the best paints and techniques and developed a file of potential fall- and Halloween-inspired images. The Scarffs also practiced on themselves.

 

“If you’re going to do something, do it the right way and the best you can. I wanted to know techniques,” Crystal said. “You want, on average, two minutes because kids don’t like to sit still very long. So not only did I learn a new art form, but I learned techniques to do it quickly. Like, double dipping for paint, you can do flowers in a hot second.”

 

Sherée said it’s surprisingly difficult to switch from tattooing to face painting. 

 

“We both thought, ‘I know how to freehand a little spider web or a princess tiara,’” she remarked, “but the surface you’re working with is so different and the paints. Face painters who do it for real, you have to give them major kudos.”

 

Crystal and Sherée got their first live action at the McGregor Fall Arts and Crafts Festival the first two weekends in October, and also offered face painting in Triangle Park downtown. It was a success.

 

“We had kids and adults,” Sherée said. “There were ladies in town who let us do little flowers. There were bikers who came down and I did scars on one guy’s head. Spooky all the way to glitter. It was a broad spectrum.”

 

Although the designs are based off general ideas, “it’s pretty much an original art piece every time,” Crystal added. “It’s an outlet for us to be creative.”

 

She admitted, “I didn’t realize how fun it would be. I thought working with kids would be strange and difficult, because I work with adults.”

 

Sherée feels the same. The expression adults have after receiving a permanent tattoo can now be spotted on kids’ faces—just for temporary works of art.

 

Those interactions also lessen the stigma Sherée said is often associated with tattoos and tattoo artists.

 

“We’re able to show we’re not what’s been depicted as hard, rough and tough, mean people. People with tattoos and tattoo artists are not mean people—we’re artsy and fun and like to wear art around,” she shared.

 

Sherée described the excitement around the INKspiration crew’s new venture as euphoric.

 

“At first it was a little overwhelming. How are we going to intertwine this with our daily schedule and still devote time to clients,” she said. “But that’s what fulfills us at work every day, so to be able to do that outside work, as a hobby, is really cool. It’s been fun to play with it and try it out, and have a community that lets us do it.”

 

Crystal and Sherée will be face painting in Triangle Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 29, as part of McGregor’s Halloween Parade and Festival.

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