We had the good fortune of connecting with Morgan Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Morgan, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I took a lot of risks when I was first trying to get into an art career and then especially when I started apprenticing at a tattoo parlor. Risks are crucial when getting into the arts. This type of industry thrives on risk. At least, I think it does. Those who are willing to risk it all for what they love are going to really appreciate the successes and acknowledge the failures as steps forward. I remember when I was preparing for my very first solo art show, I only had .75 cents left in my bank account. Some may call that risk “irresponsible”, but I knew I had to get my work out there to survive as an artist. I ended up making double the amount I put into the show and came out of it so confident in my path forward as an artist. This isn’t always the outcome for people and maybe I got lucky, but I also believe a positive mindset needs to go along with risk to survive. Otherwise, risk becomes defeating. The types of risks I took when it came to my apprenticeship, were financial once again. I worked 10-12 hour days/7 days a week with no pay. I knew it was what I wanted to do and so I sold art prints and commissions after work to pay rent, but in turn mainly ate canned corn and green beans for a year. These risks were hard , but created a mindset of endurance and helped me get to where I am today. The risks were so worth it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My style as a tattoo artist is considered “fine line”. I think what sets me a part from others is that I take the time to make sure my clients love the tattoo they have received and that it heals well too! I think a lot of artists forget that the healed product is just as important as the fresh tattoo. If its not up to my standards healed, I want people come back in for us to make it as great as it can be. Fine line heals soft and delicate and that is what I love about the style. I get most excited about the journey of my tattoo career. I still feel like I am trying to find the design/theme I enjoy tattooing the most. When it comes to my painting career, my struggle with emotion drives me and excites me to paint. I have a hard time processing my thoughts and painting helps that. My journey to where I am at today was not easy. I think the struggle is relative, but as an enneagram 9 ,aka “people pleaser”, this journey has really pushed me. As an apprentice, you have to do as your told and “lower the ego”. I think with that and constantly appealing to clients needs I have forgotten to care about myself too in the process. I lost a lot of who I was and got sucked into serving people well. I think one of the biggest lessons that I have learned and am still learning is that “I am my own boss” and I have control of my own life; not the industry or my clients. Balancing work and personal life is of huge importance in my success as a business owner and artist. Letting the world around us control our daily lives constantly diminishes creativity and overall happiness. I am seeking to overcome these challenges through putting up boundaries while doing what I love. Saying “no” ,even if it means choosing mental health over money, is a good thing. Choosing yourself is okay sometimes. There is a point where you can choose to stay humble, but know your worth at the same time. Again, I am still working on this and will be a constant journey, but I believe it will make me a better artist in the long run. As a female in this society and the tattoo industry in general, I would love to be known for loving others well and creating a safe space for people to get permanent time stamps, reminders of hope, or even just confidence boosting ink.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh gosh, this is a hard question. I am coffee obsessed. So I would definitely say going into Costa Mesa and checking out the multitude of great coffee options. A few of my favorites right now are: Nook Coffee Bar, Common Room Roasters, and MoonGoat Coffee. For breakfast, My absolute favorite place is Haute Cakes in Newport Beach, CA. I highly recommend the orange ricotta pancakes. For lunch, there is a small hole in the wall asian food place called Newport Fresh in Newport Beach, CA. My favorite order (which isn’t on the menu) is the protein bowl with chicken or just veggies. For the afternoon of shopping, eating, and an “afternoon pick me up” coffee, I would definitely say The Lab or The Camp in Costa Mesa, CA. For dessert, I would 1000% recommend SomiSomi in Irvine, CA or Alta Coffee in Newport Beach, CA has really good homemade baked goods like cobbler and cheesecake or even their vanilla Chai is a great dessert option. For a casual walk with coffee, lunch and the beautiful bay, I would definitely recommend Lido Village in Newport Beach, CA. It is a little more pricey, but is beautiful and a great place for good photos. Back Bay is an awesome place for a beautiful walk or run and then of course the beach is only ten minutes away. Lastly, for a fun morning or afternoon-book a tattoo appointment with me at the in Costa Mesa, CA!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to shout out my friends and family who have constantly encouraged me and even helped me financially at some low points during my art career. They have given me a shoulder to cry on when I am stressed out and anxious about the job I have decided to take on, made me laugh on harder days, and helped me to know my potential. I would also love to shout out my fellow tattoo artists from @trueathearttattoo for mentoring me into the tattoo artist I am now!
Instagram: @morgansierratattoo ; @morgansierraart
Facebook: Morgan Sierra Art
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