Passion for art drives student to design first tattoo

March 6, 2016 — by Julia Miller

Sophomore Laura Chaland explores her opportunities as an artist.

When she was 11, sophomore Laura Chaland began attending Drawn to Art, an artistic youth summer camp held in Fremont. There, she learned to see the colors within art’s shadows and lights.

This was a defining moment in her art career. Learning about shadows and lights in pictures also helped Chaland apply it to her own art. She took the concept and now knows how to make every subject she draws more realistic. Now, as a sophomore, Chaland manages a Facebook page filled with her art pieces, and she credits Drawn to Art for her success in seeing  “the most important aspects of drawing.”

Ranging from profound pieces to simple doodles, the work on Chaland’s Facebook page is like a digital art museum — overflowing with vibrant, neon hues. Her picturesque canvases feature everything from doodles of eyes to drawings of musical legends. Many of pop culture’s greatest performers are drawn with unique colors integrated into their appearances, such as Elvis Presley with deep orange hair and blueberry blue makeup or John Lennon sporting red glasses and matching red lips.

    Chaland, now a student in Diane Vanry’s Art 3 class, enjoys playing with the spectrum of colors on every drawing, and in doing so, putting a special twist on the norm. She said she has a passion for “the controversy in art, or art with a meaning.”

    Recently, however, Chaland has taken her art to the next level by dabbling in tattoo design. Last year, her mom asked Chaland to design a tattoo for herself. Chaland turned the offer down because she felt she was too inexperienced.

This year, however, Chaland has succeeded in designing a tattoo for sophomore Kelly McLaughlin’s older sister, class of 2004 alumna Jordan Martinsen.

    “[Martinsen] had Kelly ask me if I was interested in designing something for her,” Chaland said. “She already had an idea in mind: an apple, a peach and some poppies for ‘California life.’”

    Chaland was able to incorporate those three objects into a tattoo; once she sent in the design to Martinsen, Chaland posted the finished illustration to her art page. Since then, she has received offers from schoolmates, friends and even relatives of her friends to design tattoos for them as well.

“My uncle is actually a tattoo artist and I think he's inspired me to try it myself,” Chaland said. “He's very supportive of my art and encourages me to [pursue it].”

Since then, Chaland has reflected on the significance of designing the tattoo that Martinsen took with her to the tattoo parlor, and how much the process motivated her to continue to advance in her artistic abilities.

    “The experience of designing something that would be on someone forever was definitely exciting but pressuring,” Chaland said.    

Chaland said that she has no ambitions to become a professional tattoo designer, but she is definitely “going into the art field.”

    Until then, Chaland will keep pursuing her passion and creating works that have a hidden meaning behind them.

“Art, for me, is so important,” Chaland said. “I love experiencing different colors, and [playing] with what's normal.”

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