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Most Creative Person, Best Visual Artist: Ariel Fender

Reader's Pick: Best of Tacoma 2018

Ariel Fender, 25, tattooing a client. Photo courtesy Ariel Fender

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This year's Most Creative Person and Best Visual Artist winner is Ariel Fender, a tattoo artist based out of Puyallup. That's right, we said tattoo artist. Fender's professional status as a tattooer doesn't fully expose her multitude of creative talents, though, which span watercolor painting, acrylic and chalk-pastel visual arts, watercolor abstract tattoo, and singing. 

"Being voted most creative person and visual artist means a lot to me," said Fender. "Knowing that my work makes other people happy is the coolest feeling. I never really saw myself as an artist ... but it's great that something I enjoy making brings joy to others, too!"

Fender has been working as a tattoo artist for the last five years. At just 25 years old, she's unusually young to have five years of tattooing experience under her belt. She's been working at Family Tradition Tattoo Parlour in Puyallup for a year-and-a-half. 

"I used to get in trouble at school for charging kids a quarter to draw on them with gel pens," said Fender. "It's funny to me that I actually turned into a tattoo artist ... (but) after I finished my first tattoo, I knew this was the career I was going to move into. So, I finished college and moved on to something that made me happy: tattooing." 

Most of Fender's tattoo work is done in a watercolor-abstract style. Common themes in her work include animals, landscapes, and magical creatures. Fender got her start in tattooing as an apprentice with Jason Snow, the owner of Evolution Ink in Lacey.

Prior to becoming a tattoo artist, Fender studied music education at Pacific Lutheran University. As music is her first passion, it's no surprise that she frequently sings and plays mandolin at multiple venues, including Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Puyallup. She also creates music with Jesse Van Dyke, her husband and drummer for the band Wicked Garden. 

"He (Jesse) is the one who encouraged me to work in the style I now tattoo in (watercolor tattooing), and I push him musically. We definitely play off each other."

In addition to tattooing and singing, Fender also has an extensive background in watercolor, acrylic and chalk painting. Much of her artwork falls under realism-acrylic, and watercolor-abstract styles. As with her tattoos work, animals, landscapes, and creatures are again common motifs. Her inspirations include classic country music and immersing herself in the Pacific Northwest outdoors. Fender studied both art and music throughout high school at the Tacoma School of the Arts. 

"A lot of my artwork is organic. I'll see a flash of color go through my head, or I'll get a feeling that I transfer into a color scheme. I never know what I'm going to be painting or drawing, though. The colors tell me where to go," said Fender. Her work can be found at the Puyallup Saturday Market, online at the Ariel Fender Etsy storefront, and at Family Tradition Tattoo Parlour.

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