When it comes to stick-n-poke tattoos, Tatiana Kartomten, aka Tati Compton, is nothing short of a celebrity. With more than 260k followers on Instagram, she only takes bookings a month in advance, working out of Saved Tattoo in LA’s Arts District. But even with so much going on for her, Kartomten admits that she’s not in it for the fame.
“I’ve never wanted recognition,” she remarked once, in an interview with Amadeus, “which is why tattooing is great because it’s for someone else.” Born in Marin and raised in San Mateo, Kartomten now lives in Echo Park. She began experimenting with “home-made” tattoo art in her early twenties, and after spending a few years hand-poking at Sang Bleu London, she moved to Los Angeles where she continues to pioneer in making stick and poke tattoos a respected art form.
According to Kartomten, she gave and received her first tattoo when she and her friend hand-poked each other’s fingers. “I started with friends at home in San Francisco,” she recalled. “We wanted to do it then and there, and I had sewing needles and India ink. I became a professional over a long period of time.”
A self-taught tattoo artist through and through, she notes that most of her early clients had never heard of her chosen technique – an ancient form of body art that involves using a sharp point and some ink – but they gave her a chance and liked the results. “I always liked that it’s a lowbrow art form,” she says.