sugar & spikes: female tattoo artist steph modified

July 18, 2012

In the male dominated industry of tattooing, it is a refreshing change to meet Steph Modified. Born and raised in New York City, the professional tattoo artist is the Afropunk version of Tank Girl; she’s fearless and ready to take on the world. Steph Modified has been working on her craft since she was 16 years old. On her journey to find her new home, tattooing at Ink Chyx hasn’t been easy, but her artistic talent is paving the way for Steph Modified to become a leader in the field.

Words by Mika Kenyah

While other teenage girls were preoccupied with who was wearing the latest fashion trends, Steph Modified was more fascinated with the world of ink. She was too busy dreaming of ways to create art on people. The idea that you can give someone a beautiful piece of art work they will love and cherish for the rest of their life fueled her passion to learn how to tattoo. She found herself visiting all her local tattoo shops after school, seeking ways to gain an apprenticeship. This proved harder than she thought and she often found that being a young woman would get her snickers and jokes from the male tattoo artists. She’d would hear them talking behind her back, saying how women “just can’t tattoo as well”. Even when she did score gigs working at tattoo shops, she’d be surrounded by male artists who would choose not to like her. Why? It would simply come down to that she is a woman with more skills.

Over the next few years, she learned as much as she could from a few different teachers but came to realize, she was more motivated in learning then they were in teaching. While Steph’s strikingly beautiful exotic looks and amazing ink, may have been too much of a focus for her teachers, it was her art that also landed her a career as a tattoo model. Steph’s favorite tattoo on her skin is her chest piece. “My most meaningful tattoo is my chest piece which is a rotting heart stitched with bat wings. I have been through so much in my life. People who seemed as if they were helping me, stabbed me. No matter how much my heart will break or is ripped apart, it still stays together and remains strong.” It wasn’t until she met her boyfriend, tattoo artist, Justin Borrero, she learned more about the art of tattooing and how to enjoy what she has always loved to do. Now working at Ink Chyx, an all female owned and operated tattoo shop, co-owned by Oxygen’s Best Ink, Triple-X Jess, Steph has found an environment that is much more encouraging to her creativity.

Visiting Stephanie at Ink Chyx, opened one week ago, you can easily tell she is excited to finally find a place where she is respected. I found the team to be warm and welcoming. Their playfulness with each other makes you feel like you’re visiting your best friends. Steph adds, “I love working at an all female shop. Before, I believed working at an all female tattoo shop would be terrible. Some women are very catty and talk behind people’s back. The great thing about this shop is that we are all very forward with everything we have to say and express ourselves, even if it may hurt each other’s feelings. At the end of it all, we are all trying to progress and become better. This shop will show you women have a place in the tattoo community just as much as a male artist. We work just as hard, and maybe harder to become the best we can be.”

I have no doubt in my mind, Steph Modified will become an inspiration to other young females looking to find their place in the tattoo industry.

For more on Steph Modified check out:

Stephanie Modified
Ink Chyx
222 Bay Street, Staten Island, New York 10301