amanda wachob tattoo

by Grace Bonney

I’ve been thinking about tattoos a lot lately as I creep closer to getting my own. Since it’s something that lasts forever (gulp), I want to be extra sure, so I’ve been trying to find the perfect artist to finish the piece I want. While my personal taste leans more toward really clean line art, this work by tattoo artist Amanda Wachob in NYC has officially blown my mind.

I discovered Amanda’s work through Amy Merrick last week. A reader is getting some flower photos Amy took for D*S (how cool is that?) turned into a tattoo, and Amanda is the artist she’s chosen. I didn’t have a chance to dive into Amanda’s portfolio until last night, but when I did, I found myself saying over and over again, “Is that really a tattoo?” Amanda’s work goes way beyond what I’ve ever expected from or seen in contemporary tattoo work — it looks like watercolor and oil paint applied directly to the body without a needle. I’m dying to see some of these tattoos in person — I can only imagine how impressive they look in real life.

As if Amanda’s contemporary work wasn’t mind-blowing enough, she’s also done a conceptual series of tattoos called “Bloodlines” using distilled water instead of ink. The lack of ink means the tattoo isn’t permanent, and as the needle mark heals, the design slowly fades. It’s such a beautiful idea and would be a really interesting way to experiment with using your body as a canvas.

I know tattoos aren’t for everyone, but if you’re an art appreciator, I hope you’ll take some time to check out Amanda’s work online — it’s really spectacular and definitely worth checking out. Thanks to Amy for the tip! xo, grace

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  • Absolutely gorgeous! To me, these are beautiful (whereas many tattoos may be meaningful but not attractive, IMHO). I also LOVE the idea of the distilled water / fading tattoos!

  • These are so beautiful and original– I’ve never seen anything like it! I often think of tattoos as harsh and imposing but these are so soft and dreamy:)

  • Amanda is doing a piece for me this weekend. I made the appointment months ago and am really excited to finally go in.

    For clean line work, Yoni Zilber at New York Adorned http://www.nyadorned.com/tattoo/Yoni-Zilber/ is really incredible. He’s done a few pieces for me in the past and I’ve always been thrilled with how they’ve turned out.

  • Don’t get a tattoo. Just saying. Have beautiful art on a canvas that you can enjoy love appreciate but then walk away from when you are – 60 – like I am – tattoos on saggy Grandma skin, not so lovely. Trust me on this.

  • Those are amazing! I agree with you and like clean lines for tattoos as I have 2 of my own that are purely black and white for that reason but after looking at these my mind has changed! I wish there was someone that amazing near me so I could get a tattoo like that!

  • Dear Grace, please go with the bloodlines. I lived for several years in Morocco, where many women tattoo their faces around the nose, mouth, and chin. This can be charming on a twenty-something, but as the face shifts with age, so does the tattoo. Believe me, the same effect will happen on other parts of the body too.

    Someone should make those rub-on “tattoos” that little children use chic instead.

  • Several of our friends in Buffalo have tattoos by Amanda and they’re just as incredible in person as you’re imagining. Her paintings are also beautiful- my husband was in an exhibition with her and I couldn’t stop looking at her work . I’m so happy to see her here. She’s quite a talent!

  • Those are friggin’ amazing! Totally mind blowing. For myself, I’m interested in a simple word, very small, but very beautifully written. Anyone have experiences / recommendations for that kind of work by an artist in DC/NYC area?

  • LOVE Amanda’s work! They’re even more gorgeous in real life. Michelle Tarantelli at Saved Tattoo in Williamsburg has a classic style you might like (she’s tattooed my husband and me), and she’s very thoughtful about shape and placement. Also, I like the idea of supporting woman tattoo artists.

  • Agree with Arlene. Put it on a canvas…. Accessorize your body with jewelry and other items you can easily remove.

  • This woman’s work is wonderful…because she has taken a medium that we have all seen over and over and done something fresh and lovely with it. However, I would really caution you on getting a tattoo for the following reasons. I work in a creative industry where one would assume that tattoos are always acceptable. I have worked with several art directors(female) and stylists who got tattoos in their twenties and at close to forty they all would not do it again(tattoos that are visible in standard work clothes). They have admitted that they cover up when meeting clients(especially for the initial meetings) and they admit that they are tired of the design they picked out so many years before…that basically the design is not their aesthetic anymore. Just my two cents. But does sound as tho’ you’ve really thought this through.

  • I’ve seen these before, but they’re still just crazy stunning.

    Martha makes a good point though, I can’t imagine if I had gotten a tattoo when I was 18 or even 25, my tastes change so much over time.

  • I agree with Caitlin! If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo. I’m interested in getting more and Amanda’s are absolutely gorgeous! (Too bad I live nowhere near NYC…)

  • Those are lovely! But I do have to add one more vote to the “I’m older now, and I wish I had no tattoos” clamor.

  • This artist works at the studio where my bf has been getting a large piece (multiple visitis) and I’ve been dying to to make an appointment.

    Alas, it’s a 3 hour drive to NYC, she’s booked pretty far out, and it’s not “cheap”. Of course, tattoos shoudln’t be cheap if you want something great, but it’s still not the time for me yet…but I WILL be tattooed by her someday soon!

  • As one of your older commenters, I am so glad to be tattooless.. My advice (request): please don’t do that to your body. If you must, please make it relatively small and inconspicuous. If I had it to do again, I would not have had my ears pierced either. After years of wearing earrings I developed a sensitivity and can no longer wear them.

  • Sorry, I see nothing beautiful about marking up the gift of an already beautiful body. Put it on canvas!

  • I don’t like tattoos, at all, either the concept or most executions. But these are absolutely beautiful. Kuddos to Amanda for her innovation and artistry.

  • Holy crap. These are GORGEOUS. I’ve gone back and forth about getting a tattoo – mainly because I either don’t have the money, or I can’t decide what I want. But this. This is art. Wow. I’d certainly travel out to her studio after seeing these.

  • Caitlin, wonderful?? Really???????? NOT so becoming. Actually looks really sad!! But….to each his own :) As long as I will never have to live with it!

    • hi guys

      i wanted to leave a quick note- i’m really saddened to see people associate any artform (including tattoos) with a specific class level or some other sort of negative character association. if you don’t want or like tattoos, this post is in no way forcing you to get or appreciate one. but i feel some people are missing the point and jumping at the chance to pass some pretty intense judgement on people who get them. please keep in mind that you’re free to like or dislike work on here, but i moderate comments myself and try to keep things as focused on the work (and not personalities) as possible. to imply someone is low class is pretty off topic for me, so i hope those commenting beyond this point can keep this in mind. if you’re concerned about my own personal decision to get a tattoo, please consider that concern registered by previous commenters.


  • these really are beautiful and as someone with 3 tattoos i am nowhere near a naysayer, but my only reservation about these is that over time ink bleeds and the beauty of the detail in these will be lost and just look like random blobs of color. if you do get one by her (which i would of course recommend, because obviously she is truly a gifted tattoo artist) i would get something a bit more defined than her abstract pieces. looking forward to seeing what you get! :)

  • WOW! I want to know how she gets the color so vivid- they must take many appointments of packing the ink in for it to stay. Color tattoos fade and break down much more than black ones. Probably well worth the touch-ups though.

    Also, if I’m blessed to live into my later years where severe wrinkling and saggage are an issue, then who cares if you have a tattoo? The looks that come with old age is already unappealing to many, so I doubt a tattoo would matter much at that point. Plus there are plenty of places where it can go where it is very easily covered up for jobs.

  • Sheesh, people. If a lady wants a tattoo, it’s her decision. I’m sure all pros and cons have been weighed. Amanda’s work is gorgeous! I love the style and lack of outlines.

  • Ask yourself: would want to wear the same shirt or piece of jewelry every day for the rest of your life? I’m guessing not…I surely wouldn’t want to. Why do you think there are so many tattoo removal companies and products cropping up now?

  • I have three tattoos and I wish I didn’t BUT I got them at 18 and 21… I don’t know how old you are Grace but I feel once you are over 30 or so (I’m almost 32) if you want a tattoo get one. Its not like its a childish impulse anymore. And even if it is an impulse, its your body…

  • Those are absolutely stunning! She is very skilled at “drawing” brush strokes, which makes these look so much more artistic than the typical line drawing tattoo. While I don’t think I will ever get one myself, there’s no denying that these are gorgeous. If you want a tattoo, you might as well get a beautiful one!

  • To the readers concerned about how tattoos age, it all depends on how you take care of your skin. I have tattoos, worked in a tattoo shop for a couple of years and have several tattoo artists as friends (and one as an ex). I can tell you that if you tan a lot your tattoo (and your skin) will look like crap in 25 years. But if you’re careful about sun exposure and take care of yourself, you may need a slight touch up, but it’ll be ok. Also, if you live to be 90, who cares if you have a wrinkled tattoo? Just be glad you lived to be 90!!!

    I know doctors, dentists, lawyers, business people and nurses with visible tattoos. It’s not as big a deal. But I will say this: tattoos such as these watercolor-insiped ones, while beautiful now, will not age well. There is a reason most tattoos have a black outline. They help define the image. Ink spreads and fades over time. Without defining borders, as these tattoos age they will most likely look like blobs.

  • Amanda did a small back piece for me last year and it was a great experience. She’s as lovely as her work.

  • Oh pleeeeease don’t get a tattoo!! Please . Respect your body and keep it clean. They’re permanent and just so… low class.

  • Hi, I am closing on 40. ALL the three of my friends that had tattoos done on their late 20’s hate them now with all their hearts. I could say I told you so, but I am being nice. Get a temporary one. You will love to see your clean skin when it goes away.

  • this is the most beautiful work i’ve ever seen. mine are all solid black silhouettes but these have left me speechless. amanda is a true artist.

    ps – comments should be about discussing/praising amanda’s work not convincing grace not to get a tattoo (right?)

  • These are beautiful, but I think even more than regular tattoos, they’re going to look like giant bruises when you get older. Get them on canvas! My tastes and interests change so often, I could never get a tattoo.

  • I have a tattoo by Amanda, and I flew all the way to NY from TX for it! I get compliments on it all the time, and I live in a very conservative area. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I love it more and more every day :) Do what makes you happy dangit!

  • I think these are beautiful and creative. As naked animals, we have always chosen our own plumage, whether it’s how we style our hair, the clothes we wear, the trendy lipstick of the moment, to more extreme things like tattooing and piercing which have been done for millennia. It’s in our nature to decorate and modify ourselves. Plus tattoos are not all that permanent anyway, because we are all going to decompose at some point. :D

  • Wow! These are absolutley gorgeous. I’m really interested in the diluted water pieces, they are all so wonderfully simplisitic and their fading nature is really intriguing. I also like her other pieces, especially her birds. They look so realistic, like they could fly right off a person’s skin! The abstract ones are really cool, they have a lot of motion in them, they all look very swirly and vibrant. Very lovely.

  • I’m really frustrated by all the harsh judgement in some of these comments. I can never understand how some people think that just because something is on the internet, it’s a free for all to impose an opinion- especially when it’s concerning another person’s body.

    These tattoos are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, thank you for posting them.

  • These images are so stunning…. People who have tattoos are strong, brave personalities who are not ashamed to show who they are. I am an artist and too commitment phobic to choose anything permanently, really my taste changes as I explore different styles. If that weren’t my specific personality, I would get one. They are such a beautiful way to express yourself and usually tattoos have a deep meaning for the wearer. They can memorialize someone lost or signify a deep experience such as beating cancer. Thank you, Grace for posting such an amazing artist with such a distinct style.

  • I think the diluted water tattoos are genius! Perfect for memorial tattoos that can gradually fade away and extends the goodbye.

  • I am in LOVE!!! I absolutely love the style and mood of her work. Bummer that I’m in California… My husband and I have discussed getting similar abstract tattoos since we got married. Would it be a complete faux pas to ask if anyone knows of a fantastic conceptual, ‘no black outline’ tattoo artist in Southern CA? This smaller forum seems less intimidating than trying to wade through the massive broader tattoo culture. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful artist, Grace!

  • I tweeted a link to this post earlier today because I was struck by the beauty of Amanda Wachob’s work and her ability to execute it in such a non-traditional way. Despite being tattoo-less myself and having no desire to be tattooed in the future, I’m really kinda taken aback by some of these comments.

    Doing ANYTHING to your body, which it’s piercing your ears, getting a tattoo, having a certain haircut, getting cosmetic surgery, or even choosing a particular lipstick is an extremely person thing. Part of being a feminist (and a humanist, for that matter) is celebrating the power we have over our own bodies.

    I’ve always looked “different” by choice, and as much as I accept the reality that we live in a world full of judgements based on looks, I actually think that having to exist outside of a professional world that would scoff at dyed hair or crazy shoes has helped to keep me focused on a career path that encourages creativity in appearance and self-expression through style.

    I have no doubt that Grace will do what’s right for her.

  • wowwww stunning. im not loving the brushstroke tattoos but i do love the amazing artisty behind them. but the amazing “watercolor” flower and the little bird? soooo dreamy!

    the anti-tattoo comments are so unnecessary. Grace is a big girl people. i always roll my eyes when people say to an adult “tattoos are permanent you know.” …yes, thank you for the news flash? and when your old and saggy and your tattoo is saggy…. who CARES at that point, your whole body is saggy mush anyway.

    geez people. take a chill pill. whats “low class” is being blatantly rude.

    thanks for the post grace — i have never seen tattoos quite like these. and just because the bold brushstroke designs arent my style doesnt mean im not blown away by the talent or can’t be inspired by them! (i am)

  • I wanted to respond to the people saying that instead of a tattoo, you should get her art on a canvas. I want to pose that a human body IS a canvas, a shaped and twisted and and curvy one. If you look at the work on Amanda’s page, you’ll notice that her canvas work is MUCH different than her tattoo work. She is responding differently to the material in front of her, to different results. The tattoo’s are purposely placed to accentuate and curve and fit with the human form. The colors play off of the skin tone as a base. You CAN’T get Amanda’s tattoo work on a flat white canvas, because that requires a different approach and style. (Not that her canvas work isn’t lovely too. It is, just in a different way.)

  • I really think that Amanda’s work is beautiful. It is nice to see a new approach to that medium.
    Making rash judgements about someones personality based on their outward appearance is a much uglier quality than any tattoo.

  • I have a seminary professor friend who says, “Tattoos are the stained glass windows of today.” Some may assume he is dismissing them as passe. On the contrary, I think he means they are artistic, colorful, on a temple, illuminating and they often convey a meaningful story about the person’s life or experience. I was quite impressed with a gorgeous vine running up a tri-athelete’s calf which incorporated flowers and birds of the cities where she competed. Colorful storytelling. Interesting. Amanda’s work is lovely.

  • Hi!
    Bloodlines are a well known tattoo technique.
    Tattoo artists ‘bloodline’ some of the tattoo lines before using ink on them, so the stencil won’t rub off when they are tattooing.
    Anyway, Amanda’s work is great.

  • I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Just so beautiful! I’m fifty five, or will be soon, and if I lived closer or could afford the trip as well as the tat, I’d let Amanda ink me in a heartbeat!

  • her work is beautiful, i am in awe! and since you’re considering a tattoo look up white ink ones. i have a 3/4 sleeve done + i love it. its very delicate, clean + still gives me the edginess of a tattoo.

  • It’s nice to see the tattoo form go beyond the “fill in the outlines” type of art. I also think this will age better without the outlines which always turn blue grey over time.

  • I personally don’t think I’ll ever get a tattoo (though I have been verryy tempted), but these are so lovely, I’ve never seen anything like them. They’re like abstract paintings or remind me of the scrap paper that you test your watercolors on. It’s such a “duh” yet genius idea!

    But as for body decorating, I suppose I’ll stick to dying my hair purple and green and henna tattoos.

    Let us know if she ever comes out with a line of temporary tattoos!

  • Grace,

    I don’t comment often, but your website is a daily source of beauty and inspiration in my life. To see you addressing your own desire for and decision to get a tattoo, with the example of such a fresh and lovely aesthetic, is awesome. I have one tattoo (it is a bowler hat at the intersection of the nape of my neck and upper back/shoulders, very graphic and awesome – I get comments like “uhhhh…you know you have a top hat on your back? as well as “um…s’cuse me….I really love your tattoo.”). I’ve wanted a full sleeve for the longest time, but I am holding off until I find something that feels right. All of this is to say, thank you for posting the work of a talented (woman) tattoo artist! I hope you find more inspirational tattoo artists and share their work – if anybody can help me find what I’m looking for, it’s you. Also, I can’t resist mentioning the naysayers – it makes me so angry that people are trying to talk you out of a decision you are making for yourself, your own body, and based on the ugliest assumptions and prejudices. Live and let live, people! Thank you for bringing the discussion of a beautiful and ancient art form to your design forum. Who knew this was a community who needed its eyeballs opened?

  • I’ve really been digging the brush stroke look without black outlines although some claim that they don’t age well. I don’t know how much faith I put into that though.
    I wanted tattoos since I was a teen but always put it off until my brother died at 25 and I decided that I was going to make the most of each day and finally got my first tattoo, definitely not something I regret.
    Something else to consider, white ink. I have a white ink tattoo on the inside of my left wrist (husbands initial). I didn’t want something obvious as I do work in a professional atmosphere. After it healed it looks like a light scar, not a tattoo. And since it blends in to my skin tone no one notices it until I point it out. Even my dad hasn’t noticed it and I’ve never tried to cover it. I love it so much, I’m thinking of eventually getting a chest piece of all white ink.

  • Grace, I am telling your what is the experience in our group of friends. Just adding to the conversation here, I hope politely :) To tell you more: In particular, one of my friends got a smallish khoi fish in her ankle. I always really loved it, and she has taken good care of it putting sun screen and all. It does not look bad at all. But she is just sick of it. The fact that they are permanent seems to be the problem. It just happens very often, whether you want to accept it or not. I don’t get the social class argument, and it is not acceptable that people gets forced to cover them up in some professional environments. Fortunately, I don’t think the majority of people are judgemental. at least around here.

  • Those blood line tattoos are lovely and really interesting. When I got my second tattoo I wanted my lilies to have a delicate appearance. Because of that the artist had to blood line the outside so he still had the design to color in once the stencil wiped away. Blood lines sure don’t hurt any less than the ink!

  • As someone with MANY tattoos I can tell you this: the painterly style of tattoo generally does not hold up over time. There’s a reason why you haven’t seen this style very often-the work does not last. Tattoos without strong contrast tends to look like melted crayons after a few years, especially with sun exposure.

    I’m all for getting whatever tattoo you want. You should just be make a fully informed decision.

  • My back is almost completely tattooed in a Japanese design and I have a traditional American barn swallow hidden on the inside of each bicep. I got all my tattoos in my early twenties. I’m 40 now and not really into tattoos anymore, but I don’t regret it. I like that my body tells the story of my life, reflecting my past interests as well as my current style. Whether the design you get now is the one you’d pick twenty years from now is really beside the point. Tattoos are about commitment in throwaway culture. Also, I’ve seen old ladies with tattoos, and I think these women look beautiful. I get tickled wondering about what stories THEY could tell!

  • I think the tattoo art shown is pretty amazing even though I don’t have any myself. What I would like to add though is that if you prefer that the above discussion should focus purely on the art itself then maybe it would have been wiser not to personalise it with reference to getting one yourself as I think that really steered the discussion in a different direction: there will always be those for and against tattoos and in a discussion forum people are bound to make comment.

  • Remarkable! A feat to pull off on paper let alone skin – bravo!
    Grace I hope you find just what you are looking for for your botanical tattoo – love the nasturtiums on that book cover…oh and the pomegranate!! sigh.

  • I happened to come across this blog while looking at Amanda Wachob’s work, and after reading all of the comments I wanted to make a point similar to Alethea’s. I got a tattoo about 2 years ago and this was my reasoning: I got something that I designed, that is on my ribs and is hidden in almost every setting, including in some bathingsuits, and I got it to remind myself of who I am today. I wholeheartedly believe that it is so important to remember who you have been and where your life has taken you. I got it to remind myself that I should always do whatever I want, regardless of anything and everyone else. I cannot see myself every regretting expressing myself in this manner, and even if I “get tired” of the design, or it gets “ugly and saggy,” it will still remind me of a time in my life where I was free. Plus, who cares what it looks like when you’re old? You probably won’t be showing off your hot bod by that time anyway so what does it matter what it looks like? And who says we’ll even make it to that point? Anyway, point being… if it makes you happy now, then for the rest of your life it should remind you of this time in your life and what made you happy. And Amanda Wachob is a genius :) oh! and there’s an awesome blog that I found if you’re looking for more inspiration: fyeahtattoos.com

  • I’m a 37 year old woman with 10 tattoos (so far), and have been getting them since I was 19. The only one I regret is the first one, which has absolutely no meaning for me; I just picked something from a book of flash art. Every other piece was designed and drawn by myself, and each one has a very personal meaning in the history of my life. Though a few have begun to fade, I wouldn’t take any of them back (except that first one!) I have never had to cover them for work, and as an artist and graphic designer, I find that clients are never put off by the fact that my arms and hands are covered in art. I can’t even tell you how many conversations have been started with strangers who’ve approached me to talk about and ask questions about my tattoos. I’m sure that anyone old enough to get a tattoo is aware of the permanence and possible consequences of getting ink. Though an 18 year old is sometimes less likely to care about these consequences than a 30 year old… Still, it’s a personal decision that should be entered into after quite a lot of consideration. I would highly recommend that whatever someone gets, it should hold some significance. You’re much less likely to get bored with it years down the road if it brings you memories of important aspects of your life.

    And for what it’s worth, the “low class” comment was extremely offensive and insulting.

  • If you want to get a tattoo, get a tattoo.
    If you don’t want to get a tattoo, don’t get one.
    But personally, I want Amanda to ink me up ASAP. I am from Alabama, now live in California, and am flying to NY to get Amanda to ink me up. I think it is worth it. It’s art. It’s my body. Oh and let’s not forget about the fact that this chick is prolific!

  • I am a body artist & I had a tattoo without black as out line. The work is amazing & more feminine. Keep in mind. You will need to repeat the ink, in 5 to 8 years. It does fade & pastels even less time. Using white lasts under 1yr. Light colors around 3yrs. If you keep the artwork bigger it will give you a longer lasting look. Or go slightly darker, knowing the finished look will be lasting over 5 yrs. I agree & am not a fan of black out lines… My experience from past, keep the art larger with light tones. No edging will not keep work tidy. Abstract work is perfect… This is why the artist has done so. Talk to your artist, before the leap…. You will need to repeat tattoo in under 10yrs

  • Truly amazing works of art and so elegant. I would love to have all the rest of the tats that are now in my head done like this. I love them.

  • On Amanda’s website it says she isn’t accepting any new appointments. How long could it take to get an appointment? Is there anyone else on the East Coast that has a similar aesthetic?

  • I also checked Amanda’s website and isn’t accepting any new appointments.
    I subscribed to her mailing list for updates but was wondering if anyone knows any other artist in New York city that do watercolor work.
    Has anyone recently seen Amanda and know if she will start seeing new clients?

  • I have to admit, her work is amazing. And for all the haters with negative comments, I have but one thing to say: When I’m 75, old and wrinkly, I’ll still look like someone wayyyy cooler than you who lived a little. Get the brooms out of a certain dark place. The art has existed back in Egyptian times.

    Grace, if you want it, go get it. It is your body after all

  • I seen a beautiful male and female cardinal on a branch in watercolor. I would love this to honor my soul mate I lost. It is on pinterest. Live in Syracuse. would love one done and was wondering if these kind of tattoos cost alot more than regular ones?

  • I can see how some of these can make for beautiful tattoos, but most border “just got done painting my room” and “prison tattoo”.