We all have a story to tell. A way that we engage with the world, or the way the world engages with us. While some paint or play music, others draw, sculpt or write. But inside each of us is a soul destined to create, to make something beautiful, to tell our story with the world.
This Southeast Missouri woman uses ink as her medium. Ink is the tool; the story is her life.
Tattoo artist Amanda Hester knows a thing or two about telling stories with ink. She and her husband, Chris, opened their studio, On the Bright Side, in Cape Girardeau at the end of 2017. They have been sharing and receiving stories with the community ever since, but their story didn’t start there.
Growing up, Hester remembers taking every art class offered, as a way to express her emotions. Her love of art eventually led to an Associate of Arts degree and experience in the tattoo industry. She quickly found the process to be therapeutic, for both the artist and the person receiving the tattoo.
“When I’m giving someone a tattoo, I don’t think about anxiety or anything else in that moment,” she says. “It’s relaxing and peaceful.” She admits working with ink in this way forces her to be hyper-focused on the task at hand and engaged with the person on the other end of the needle.
“If I am working on a big piece, it’s almost like a back-and-forth counseling session,” Hester says. What starts out as small talk between strangers can develop into common ground and a relationship. In fact, one of her best friends started out as a client.
“I love getting to know people and hearing their life stories,” she says. “When I sit and have a conversation, especially with someone who appears different from me, I usually find out we have more in common than we think.”
And the conversation is rarely about tattoos. People are more than the art they wear on their bodies. They are full of moments, memories and experiences. Hester just helps capture a few of those for the world to see. That in itself is a form of storytelling.