Meet Mo Malone ! Professional tattoo artist living in
St. Louis, MO; fellow BMX babe and cat lady!
Miss. Mo Malone! How long have you been a tattoo artist? What inspired you to start tattooing?
I started tattooing in ’96. I was offered an apprenticeship from Scott Parsons when I was in college. I was studying art at Virginia Commonwealth University. I didn’t know a lot of people when I was in college, so I spent a lot of time at the local tattoo shop a couple blocks from my freshmen dorm. I used to bring my colored pencils to the shop and draw tattoos for friends of the owner. People were starting to get my designs tattooed on them and when they decided to expand the tattoo shop to a new location they asked me if I wanted to learn. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, and I wasn’t going to quit college to tattoo full-time. I figured I’d take it one day at a time and just see what happens. It was a great opportunity and it definitely was my foot in the door, to the tattoo industry. It didn’t end well as I would have liked, but I am grateful for the opportunity.
Do you have a favorite style to tattoo?
My style has been described as “painterly”. I’ve realized where I am in my career, that the style I will forever try to master, is the combination of looseness and defined. I prioritize contrast as the main ingredient. But I enjoy the relationship to graphic design preciseness and loose painterly color or shading. They balance each other great and emphasize each’s other’s strengths. I know I’m not the best tattooer at it; there are painters, illustrators, tattooers that have exceeded their work to that level that I admire. It is the “chase” I know I will have for the rest of my career. So rather than stress, appreciate the tricks you pick up and celebrate everyone’s diversity. Flow is one of my major considerations. Bad flow ruins a tattoo. It doesn’t matter what the style is. If you do not have good flow of composition on the body, you blew it.
What were your biggest challenges becoming a tattoo artist?
I came into this industry with the instincts of “keep your mouth shut and your ears open.” I can’t say I wasn’t feisty and opinionated at times, but that motto is something I make an effort to keep in check. You learn more that way and it is easier to observe and see who is bullshitting you. It could be the client. It could be your peer. Trying to fit in with so many men was something I had to learn to do. When I began to tattoo, there were older female tattooers, that I knew that had respect from most men in the industry at the time. But to be honest, there just wasn’t a lot of female tattooers. It was a solid boy’s club and if you wanted to make it, you had to grow a thick skin. It wasn’t really the hardest challenge, but it definitely took the longest.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
Hands down. The clients. I have felt like a family member after tattooing some people. And you tattoo their whole family! How awesome to provide a service that connects you so incredibly with people. It’s awesome!
Where are you located in St. Louis? Where can people contact you for an appointment?
I am now located at my buddy, Matt Hodel’s, shop called Ragtime Tattoo. I have respected Matt as a person and an artist for years. It’s awesome to finally get to work together. We come from the same school of tattooing and both agree that a positive mental attitude is worth possessing.
Ragtime Tattoo is located at:
3144 Morganford Rd.
St Louis, MO 63116
I work by appointment and can be reached through email at email@example.com
You have quite a few tattoos yourself, what are your top 3 favorites?
My top 3 fave tattoos, on myself.
1. Aerial view outline of the bowl at Wilson Skatepark, in Chicago. A bunch of bmx homies and I decided to get a gang tat of our favorite bowl, when we realized we would all be in town at the same time. My buddy, Luke, did my tattoo and had never been tattooed before. I talked him through it and he did an amazing job. I always smile when I look at that tattoo.
2. The single red tattoo line on my left arm. It was the last scratch my cat, Whiskers, did to my arm, before I had to put her down at 17. I wanted that scratch to last. She was my first cat.
3. All of the tattoo shop gang tats I’ve gotten. Haha. Boulder Ink, Iron Age, Samuel O’Reilly’s… It just always makes me think about my memories and friendships with some of the world’s best tattooers.
How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
I got my first tattoo at 18 in Richmond, Virginia, by Scott Parsons. Scott did a lot of tattoos on me and was later my mentor at Enigma Tattoo.
You’ve had the opportunity to travel for tattooing, tell us about that!
I’ve traveled a lot for tattooing. I used to do a lot of conventions. It was a great opportunity to network and see a new city. And it led to a lot of guest spots and longtime friendships. You very quickly find yourself with friends all over the globe. It’s a pretty cool network.
How do you feel society has changed in regards to the acceptance of tattoos?
Society has changed in the sense that tattoos are now acceptable and everywhere. People are celebrating eachother ‘s individualism and self-expression. It’s almost rare to not have a tattoo. I call them unicorns.
Do you have any advice for people who wish to become a tattoo artist someday?
My advice to those wanting to learn is, take it easy. Hard work and determination always prevail. Don’t rush it or take short cuts. And respect the past, and those who paved the way.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I’ll be in Boulder, CO, working with my homie, Phill Bartell. You will be able to find me at Rising Tide or the Boulder Skatepark or somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.