Welcome to the latest edition of our Virginian of the Week series. This week, we interviewed Erin Chance, a Richmond-based tattoo artist and business owner. Her work can be found on her Instagram, Facebook and her tattoo parlor’s website.
Where do you live now? What brought you here and what made you decide to stay there?
I’m actually from New Zealand! I moved to Richmond in late 2012, and was tattooing at Ghostprint Gallery. My co-owner, Teresa moved here in 2015 and we opened Unkindness Art together.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Richmond?
I’ve lived all over the place here in the last 7 years. Church Hill, Jackson Ward, Short Pump, Mechanicsville and I really love it here! It’s such a vibrant little city with a great art, music, and food scene.
Tell us a little bit about how you got your start as a tattoo artist. Is it something you were always interested in doing?
I bought my first tattoo magazine when I was 13, but I’d always been fascinated with them. I got my break in 2006 at Eastside Tattoo, in Auckland, New Zealand. Then later at Sacred Tattoo before moving to the states. My years at Sacred really helped hone my skills and helped develop my style.
What’s your favorite thing about being a tattoo artist?
Getting paid to draw for a living is pretty amazing! There’s a lot of travel opportunities as well, so I’ve been a lot of places I might not have had the chance to otherwise.
How did you decide to open up your own shop?
Teresa Sharpe approached me about it! She wanted to leave Indiana for a warmer climate, and had really enjoyed Richmond during her visits. The building I was already working in became available and we jumped at the chance to take it over
Is there anything you dislike about the industry? Or is there an aspect of it that you find particularly challenging?
Like anything tattooing has its dark side. Our industry has been going through its own “Me Too” movement the last couple of years. We are working to make tattooing safe and comfortable for everyone, and holding people accountable for their actions.
What’s something people wouldn’t expect about your day-to-day?
Well I’m a new mum, so my day-to-day is pretty boring and normal! I’m a huge nerd and love gaming of all types! But I don’t have a lot of spare time for it these days.
Do you have a personal or professional accomplishment you’re particularly proud of?
Opening up Unkindness, for sure.
Do you have a favorite tattoo that you’ve done?
I have a few! But I guess the one most people know is the fox hunt backpiece.
Do you have any favorite artists? Working in tattoos or otherwise?
So many! Grime, Dean Sacred, Heather McLean, Teresa Sharpe, Dan Fletcher, Steve Moore, Samantha Smith just to name a few.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m usually drawing, running errands and taking care of the baby. A year ago I would have given a different answer, and it would have involved nerdy things.
This interview has been lightly edited.