September 26, 2020

‘LL: Your journey, however, has been a turbulent one. Can you talk a bit about the hardship you went through when you were on the come up?
Tiffany: When I was in Miami, I was living with the only relative I had out there, which was my aunt. Her name is Ruth. I ended coming back to Jersey for a little bit, and when I came to Jersey to visit my family, we got the phone call that her boyfriend who was also living with us murdered my aunt. It was crazy because when she was murdered it was actually on my day off from work. So, had I been there, something could’ve possibly happened to me. That’s when I realized that everything happens for a reason. The reason for me coming to Jersey was to sort of begin to transition my life, and me not being [in Miami] kind of saved me. So after that whole situation, I took all of my stuff and ended up leaving Miami, and I stayed in Jersey. While I was in Jersey a lot of good things began happening. I don’t know what it was, but that’s when the whole TV show thing happened. I was featured in Urban Ink magazine, which was cool. I got to tattoo Omarion. Good things just started happening back to back to back.

[My aunt] used to always tell me, “You gotta reach for your dream, and just stay strong.” So, I don’t know, I guess I just woke up and was like, I need to really push hard, and pursue what I want to do, and be very ambitious. Do what my aunt would want me to do. So, I did, and everything good started to happen. My career started to flourish.

‘LL: Talk a little about your experience on Oxygen’s Best Ink. How did that all come about?
Tiffany: I actually got a message from one of my sorority sisters who was working for a TV company. She sent me this link and was like, “There’s this new TV show coming out. Give it a try.” So, I filled out the application, and the next thing you know, I was going to the next round and the next round—and, I ended up making the cast. When I was actually on TV, it was very, very nerve-wracking. I was still kind of a beginner. I think I was tattooing like two years in, and I was already on a TV show. When I went there, I saw artists like Roman [Abrego] and London [Reese], and I’m like, “I’m going up against these people?” [Laughs] I felt like I was about to lose from the beginning. I feel that it was a really good experience because I got to meet amazing artists, and then, at the same time, it gave me the opportunity to see how TV really is. I feel like it’s mostly for ratings. Like the more drama you bring, I feel like the longer you’ll be on TV. I got eliminated pretty early, so it didn’t work out, but overall, the experience is something that no one can take away. It was such a great experience.

‘LL: Now, you own your own tattoo shop. What was the transition like going from an employee to owner?
Tiffany: It was really, really hard. I didn’t expect it to be this hard, actually. I was used to working for someone, and then I wake up and open up my shop, and have people working for me, which is now my responsibility. Then, there are a lot of things you have to deal with. You have to deal with the artists, clients, running the business, promoting, answering emails, and your artists’ emails, dealing with the money, the paperwork… There’s a lot involved that I didn’t really expect. It was a very stressful transition. I even wondered if this was the right decision to do. But, once I got through that beginning phase, things started to get easier. So now, the foundation of my shop is stable. I’m getting used to it.

‘LL: What do you find most gratifying about owning your own shop?
Tiffany: I’m my own boss. I can do whatever I want. I get more freedom. You definitely make more money, too. And, I don’t know… I feel like a boss. I feel more powerful.

‘LL: How are you able to balance the role of a tattoo artist and a shop owner? Does being a boss sometimes hinder your role as an artist?
Tiffany: Oh! That’s a good question! When I’m a tattoo artist, I’m an artist. I’m in my zone. I’m focused on my client. When it comes to being the boss, you just have to be more responsible and take over situations. You have to learn to separate being the boss from being the artist. If you let the boss’ responsibilities get in your head, it can affect your artwork. Sometimes, if something happens at the shop—like a boss-related situation—it can stress you out. I had to learn how to clear my mind and just focus on the client, and me and try to separate my role as a boss so that I can create good artwork. That was my biggest thing, trying to separate that.

Tiffany Perez in grey - head shot- A

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About The Author

Emmanuel Ureña

Born to Dominican parents in NYC and raised in Passaic, NJ, in nearly a decade as an entertainment writer, Emmanuel Ureña has written for numerous publications, including VIBE, Latina.com, BET.com, LLERO, Urban Ink, Inked, and many others. When he’s not typing away on his MacBook, Ureña is reading fictional novels and comic books while enjoying ice-cold Blue Moon beers. You might also find him at a local tattoo shop getting some fresh ink!

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