By Melissa Fusco
Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Off The Map Tattoo Studio in Grant’s Pass, Oregon. It was my first time ever visiting Oregon, and I must say it gave Colorado a little competition. I arrived with the all to familiar nervous, anxious, first time exploring butterflies that I feel in my stomach while starting a new journey. Off The Map Tattoo Studio shares it’s name with Jeff Gogue’s Grant’s Pass location. I had a few days of tattooing lined up, and was very excited about that, however I was more focused on the plans I had made in advance. I coincided my guest artist spot around Jeff’s painting workshop. I had this trip planned out for about 10 months, and it seems the longer it takes for me to plan anything the more anxiety builds for the trip.
I have had a busy schedule and allot of traveling going on since the spring. Much of my traveling was for tattooing, however with the previous Paradise Artist Gathering in New Mexico last March and now this painting workshop under the instruction of Jeff, I found myself more out of my bubble this year than any other year prior. It was a small topic of conversation between a few of the artists and myself, which made it more clear to me that getting myself out of my bubble and into more artistic environments has not only been very inspiring, but has also aided in me feeling more comfortable in my creative world one stroke at a time. To sit along side artists, and open ourselves up to learn from another artists who, like Jeff, works very instinctively and seems totally comfortable within the niche that he has created for himself; it all has such a positive out come that I encourage you all to get out of your bubbles and put yourself into another creative environment. Whether it is trying another medium you are not familiar with, or even better yet, to become unfamiliar with a medium you were once in-tune with. In my artist life, I have taken the initiative and signed up for classes whether inside or outside the tattoo community, and I must say some of my favorite workshops have been outside of the tattoo community. Don’t hesitate to see what your local community college or artist group is doing, and get involved every once- in-a-while.
Taking Jeff’s workshop really simplified the process of oil painting, and I really enjoyed that! Coming from a background in art education, I have tool boxes upon tool boxes full of all sorts of paints. With a simpified pallete and brushes, I understand his process and can add it to my own painting recipe.
This year alone I have painted more paintings that I will not be selling, and I am ok with that because I know my future paintings will benefit from the time I spent stepping outside of my bubble. I encourage you to do the same! Autumn is around the corner and that is a great time to sign up and get inspired.
After the painting workshop I had 2 free days before my tattoo appointments, so I rented a car and headed over to Crator Lake. This was one of my bucket list trips for a long time now and I could not pass up the opportunity to see this magical place. I arrived at the lake and was just speechless to how beautiful it was, and it really felt magical. I was alone and was far from scared. I hiked around for hours, until the sunset. Then I stayed until 1 a.m. to capture some night time star scenes, but unfortunately the half moon was not on my side it was so bright! I did get a couple shots so the night time excursion was not a total wash. It was an inspiring and fulfilling time to explore before getting into tattooing, and those four days set me up for some creative tattooing sessions. I still feel the effects of that today and I hope it will continue. Enjoy!