#HERStory: AMY BLACK

By Luke Witt

Amy Black, an award-winning tattoo artist in RVA, is the founder of The Pink Ink Fund, a non-profit that provides post-mastectomy tattoos as part of breast reconstruction due to breast cancer. Luke Witt caught up with Amy for the #HERStory photo series, in partnership with Richmond Grid magazine, to find out what drives this impressive, local business leader and community member. Amy received her first tattoo while attending Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) where she focused on Anatomy, Figure Drawing and Painting, Figurative Oil Painting, and Color Theory. She moved to Richmond in 1998 and began working for the Alive Gallery, which quickly resulted in a tattoo apprenticeship with Timothy Hoyer in 1999. Amy began tattooing in 2000 and launched her studio, now known as Amy Black Tattoo, in 2005. In addition to mastectomy tattooing, Amy is known for nature, botanicals, and scientific themes, as well as realism, Japanese, Chinese, Tibetan and Hindu influences. Her work honors classical masters like Bernini, Klimt, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dali, Picasso, and Vermeer.

How did you get into the tattoo industry and what inspired you to help with breast mastectomy projects?

I was getting heavily tattooed for a few years before I decided to give finding an apprenticeship a try. I was lucky to have a great apprenticeship and was cold-called by a breast cancer survivor for the first mastectomy tattoo I ever did. I was really honored. It was that client who supported me to do more.

Tell us about your time with Tibetan Monks and meeting the Dalai Lama?

I always loved seeing the sand mandalas when I visited them in other venues throughout my life and it was my life dream to host them sometime and to bring them to Richmond. I met the Dalai Lama in June of 2016. He was visiting for a short time, giving a public address. My friend had met with him before and offered to help me meet him. It will always be one of the greatest moments of my life.

You have a great interest in motorcycles, how does this weave with your work and Buddhism?

I love motorcycles…they can force you to be present, responsible, and to really think outside of yourself. Motorcycles are my getaway. I love a lot of things about my life that keep me going and they are a component. I’m not sure if I ever consciously use Buddhism with motorcycles too much. It’s important to relax and have as much fun as possible in this life. So, maybe they help bring about that aspect

What vision do you have for yourself and Richmond in the future?

I’m definitely here to stay for a while. I love traveling and experiencing other places, so maybe at some point I will move somewhere else. But right now, I’m not thinking that far ahead. I’m enjoying being in the moment. I’m grateful that Richmond has helped me get there.

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