Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Sarah Lemke. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Sarah thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Risking taking is a huge part of most people’s story but too often society overlooks those risks and only focuses on where you are today. Can you talk to us about a risk you’ve taken – it could be a big risk or a small one – but walk us through the backstory.
Risk! Oh, I talk all the time about how most things that hold value and worth, usually involve risk. That goes for business, relationships and personal development. Looking back, I guess opening a tattoo studio in the heart of La Jolla would have been considered a risk. I opened my studio about 4 years ago. I went against most opinions and called myself a “tattoo studio”, because that is exactly what I am. I was told I wasn’t a tattoo artist, the word “tattoo” was too aggressive for the demographic and that I needed to refer to myself as “something more traditional such as “permanent make-up”. There is nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t want to confirm, I wanted to create differently. Truth is, I am so thankful for a broad and and amazing demographic of clientele. My clients are from all over the county and out of the country as well. Plus, La Jolla loves a lil’ grit and I am indeed a tattoo artist. I stayed true to who I am and where I wanted to evolve as an artist. I am glad that I trusted my gut, didn’t limit myself and I took risks for my business. It’s good to remember that what you speak over your life and situation writes the story. Trends fade, but quality, filling a need and being “different” – it really doesn’t.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I have been tattooing in cosmetic and reconstruction for about 5 years! What I am blessed to call work is also one of my biggest passions. It’s passion with a purpose for me. I think when those two work together, beautiful things happen. My main passion is people, and then we have artistry. My purpose is to create and restore what gives my clients confidence, ease and beauty on the outside that is a reflection of who they are on the inside. Every clients comes to me for a different reason and there is a different story behind why they want their new tattoo. My clients are not a number. Every client I approach as an individual and I take the time to see who they are and what their needs are before tattooing. It is about relationship and a collaboration. Any form of a tattoo, semi-permanent or not, cosmetic/reconstructive or body art, is a commitment. I understand the gravity of that and that my clients trust me with their faces and bodies. It truly is an honor and I hope that it reflects in every tattoo that comes out of my studio.
I always joke that a cosmetic tattoo shouldn’t look like a tattoo. It should be undetectable as a tattoo, really. I used different techniques and devices to create the most natural tattoo possible. Along the way I have learned from great artist and I grew artistically on my own, constantly seeking new ways of improving. I take pride in having a very artistic approach to cosmetic tattooing. I see and understand color, shape, aesthetic and skin anatomy and how it all rolls together and differently on every person. I get to create something completely new with every tattoo. It is always a good time in the studio! A lot of laughs, connection and tattooing. I specialize in life-like cosmetic tattooing and reconstructive work. Realistic and natural eyebrow tattoos, lip tint, delicate lash-liner, scar-camouflage and scalp micro-pigmentation for thinning areas and scars. I am based out of San Diego Ca and I have a studio in La Jolla. I selectively run apprenticeship programs with artist that are looking to grow in their skill. I love being able to pour into them as so many have done for me. I will be traveling again with studio pop-ups next year and looking forward to furthering in the industry.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
I think through the last two years of a pandemic, closures of businesses and isolation – we have all had to show resilience in one way of another. Work is one of my passions, my outlet and what I love. It’s also my income. It was difficult, and at times lonely, trying to navigate the waters of safety, ethics and my business that I put my heart in to. I missed people and human interaction. So, I started an education course via zoom. I invested into other artist and helped them to cultivate their talents and gifting. I took time to work on the back end of my business, work on my goals and really pressed into my faith that I would come back strong. I stayed in contact with my clients and build new relationships on social media. I took courses and classes online myself. I learned to love finance and budgeting. Haha! It wasn’t the first time however. When I started my business I built from the ground up. To get real and off of the highlight reel – I flipped my life upside dow until it turned right side up. I pushed, I prayed. I pushed some more. I focused on everything I had to be grateful for and I kept moving forward. I don’t think we ever stop having opportunities in life to be resilient. I call it an opportunity because resilience always leads to growth and anytime we get to grow, that’s an opportunity.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
Something that I have had to unlearn!? Ok, I could go many directions, but I’m going to touch on the first thing that came to mind. Something that helped me to see myself differently, for the better and that challenged me personally and in business. It’s really simple actually. I had to learn that it was healthy to acknowledge and say that I am great at what I do. And that it didn’t make me arrogant and it wasn’t a lack of humility. But, it is necessary for growth. It’s not insulting or a put down to others by being proud of what I do well. You will never have to put someone else down to build yourself up. Period. For example, I think a variety of artist can struggle with showcasing their work, talking highly of themselves etc. on social media, bragging on their work – myself included. It can feel gross – but that all depends on the “heart intent” and need behind it. Are you proud and confident in your work and can you exhibit it with grace and humility? That’s where it’s healthy, productive and the goal. Background story – I was about a year into tattooing and I was dating someone who I respected as an entrepreneur, athlete, most importantly – a good human will good character. I am humble and him likewise. It’s probably why he asked the question, “do you think that you are best at what you do professionally, is your work the best.” But I was taken back and actually uncomfortable. I sat their starring and sipped my margarita. Glad he cared, annoyed he asked. I had told him it would sound arrogant to say that and blind to think I was the best. He told me “YOU are the best at what YOU do and no one can be YOU.” He had told me that if I didn’t see and couldn’t speak my worth and value, no one else would be able to either. See it actually seems quite simple unless your’e the person who needed to hear it. I sat with this long after the margaritas were memories. Truth is, if you grow up believing and walk through life thinking that you will never be better at something than anyone else, you won’t be. This doesn’t mean my life is valued as more, my talent or that I view it as such. It means that we all have our gifting, talents and callings, and we have to step into that potential to be valued there and grow. It takes confidence. If I see myself as never being the best, I don’t have to take the risk to get there. The risk is usually fear of failure, criticism and being misunderstood. It’s self-protective and it’s limiting. No risk, little reward. Haha, so we circle back to the risk factor again!
When you are secure in knowing your purpose and gifting, you can be confident in it. Also, humility and confidence can be interchangeable. Want to always keep your heart humble? – a copious amount of gratitude and giving. Some of my favorite things! Both always come back around so it’s also a guaranteed win. See, one simple question that I allowed myself to dig into – and it unpacked a life-time of patterns to unlearn and mindsets to shift for the better. I think about that question almost every day. Ask the deeper questions, speak into people, challenge and build them up! You never know the impact it will have!
- Website: www.SLcosmetictattoo.com
- Instagram: @SLcosmetictattoo
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/s-l-cosmetic-tattoo-la-jolla-2
Jen Bauer Photography @jenbauerphotography