A GoPride Interview

Hannah Aitchison

Inked: Hannah Aitchison talks body art with Jerry Nunn

Fri. February 28, 2014  by Jerry Nunn

The popularity of tattoos have grown so much.
Hannah Aitchison
Hailing originally from Chicago, Hannah Aitchison is known for her body art and judging skills on TLC's LA Ink and Oxygen's Best Ink.

Now completing its third season Ink is hosted by Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz and gives tattoo artists a voice to display their unique art form while competing for $100,000 and a cover story in Tattoo Magazine.

This pinup specialist worked at Deluxe Tattoo for years in Illinois before relocating to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to work at a private studio called the Curiosity Shop.

We called Aitchison before the season finale of Best Ink to get to know the painted artist more and found out what a small world this is we live in.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Hannah. How are you?

HA: (Hannah Aitchison) I'm a little raspy. How are things back in Chicago?

JN: Very cold but the snow is slowly melting.

HA: Well, thank god for that.

JN: You grew up in Chicago. Why did you move away?

HA: I was looking for a change. I had lived there since I was 10 years old.

JN: How is the tattoo scene in Pittsburg compared to Chicago?

HA: You know I am still kind of finding my way around but so far everyone that I have been fortunate enough to meet is very welcoming. There are very cool people in the area so I am looking forward to networking.

JN: How did you become involved with Best Ink in the first place?

HA: I have been with it for two seasons full time. One of my close friends Joe Capobianco is responsible for that. They were looking for a female co-judge and he had contacted me because I had the capability, background, and reputation that would be good for the show, also because I was a reality TV veteran. I had some experience to be in that type of a format.

JN: You remind of Lynda Cater's Wonder Woman with those beautiful eyes and dark hair.

HA: Aww, thank you.

JN: I loved the guest star of Justin Bua. I have his pictures on my wall.

HA: Justin Bua is amazing. He's a terrific artist. They have called on him several times to guest judge because he is so multidimensional. He can work with so many different types of challenges plus he's personable and a good looking guy so it's nice to have him on TV!

JN: I learned this season that being tattooed on your ribs is very painful.

HA: Rib tattoos suck balls! Oh yeah, they are horrible. It is funny because when you cover up a beautiful spot of your body and it is kind of sensual, you can imagine something coming up the side of your body there, people will ask for a rib tattoo and I'm thinking, "Dude, you have no clue."

JN: Some insecure people get tattoos and it seems to bring out their personality. Have you noticed that?

HA: The popularity of tattoos have grown so much. It is really something that you have to want to do. There are a lot of people that are reaching to it as a process for themselves. Sometimes it is healing themselves from loss or getting over an eating disorder or having trouble with a relationship, but a tattoo is not going to fix that obviously. People do talk about their background of pain and what they want their tattoo to symbolize. If it is part of the process and it helps you then it's wonderful and I am all for it but you can't fix the illness of living onto body art. It will not solve life's little problems for you.

JN: I didn't notice any LGBT contestants but there were several "skins" (or people that were tattooed) that were featured in the show.

HA: Yes, it's fantastic. I was very excited about that. When I was on LA Ink we had a couple of transgender folks that I got a chance to work with. I like the fact that people get a chance to tell their stories especially in light of all of the legislation that people have been having to deal with lately, the possibilities of more and more states legalizing marriage. People need to be able to put a face to someone and the life that they have lived, to put that out there as the new type of family.

JN: Tell me about Pete Wentz. He seemed very nice in a past interview I did with him.

HA: I love Pete! He has a reputation for being kind of a tool but I don't understand it. I don't know where that came from. Maybe when he was younger and first got famous he had an attitude but I have never once seen it. He is the humblest, sweetest, and considerate person that I have known. I really like him a lot. He's like my baby brother.

JN: He's very supportive of the gay community so I appreciate that. He has a lot of major fans.

HA: He has the most obsessive fans for sure! It runs the gamut too. Every once in a while there is someone that contacts me saying they are a Pete Wentz fan and then I realize they are creeping on Pete!

JN: They are using you to get to Pete. You better be careful!

HA: [laughs] I will. I don't have him on speed dial...

JN: Did you know the Chicago artist Amy that was on the show?

HA: I had not met Amy before. She is in a studio that is not too far from where I used to work. I had seen her work periodically and thought it was very nice but I didn't know her. If I had known her I would have had to let the show know that ahead of time.

JN: You must be a big Betty Page and Dita Von Tess fan.

HA: Totally. I love Betty for her genre and rule breaking in the '50s at a time when it was criminal to be sexy and I love Dita who has fun with the genre today of beauty and glamor. I love that pinup culture has become such a popular thing again. People are doing burlesque really well these days too.

JN: I heard there is a two year waiting list to get a tattoo from you. Is that true?

HA: There is but so much of it depends on someone's flexibility. I moved here to Pittsburg and I don't have a waiting list in Pittsburg. If someone from Pittsburg calls me up and says they have a great idea for a sleeve project then I can get them in next week. If they are from Chicago and just coming in on a weekend or a certain time then there is limited availability.

JN: What is the best way to get a hold of you for a tattoo?

HA: The best way is through email. If someone puts something in the title at the head of the email that will help. I have to wade through them but if something jumps out at me then I get to it first.

JN: How has this season of Best Ink been for you overall?

HA: This season has been really fun. I love the production team we are working with. They are wonderful. They are trying to balance it making it entertaining for most people and making it legitimate from the tattooing perspective. It is just really refreshing to work with people who understand that this is a millennium old art form. To make it into a TV format is going to be hacking it up at best. They are really good at making entertainment without killing it and taking the soul out of it.

JN: Thanks for talking today with a scratchy voice.

HA: My pleasure.

JN: Let me know when you are back in Chicago.

HA: I am sure I will be back and forth many times. I have plenty of projects to finish there, besides I have to come to Andies Restaurant and get my Mediterranean fix!

JN: That's where I work. Did you know that?

HA: I know, that's where I met you from. I lived up there for years in that part of town.

JN: I waited on your table?

HA: Yes, the world is so small.

JN: We have to go eat there sometime and I will hook us up!

If you missed the season finale of Oxygen's Best Ink catch a rerun or view online with details at best-ink.oxygen.com. In Pittsburg and ready for some body art? Visit hannahaitchison.com.

Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.


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