On a mission to establish her singular style, Lisa Orth translates natural themes into otherworldly etchings on skin. Her distinctive technique is often imitated but never equalled, with clients traveling from across the globe for a chance to receive a piece of her original artwork for their very own.
A creative polymath, Lisa began her artistic path in Seattle as a graphic designer and art director. In the late 80's, she was working for such luminary cultural institutions as Sub Pop Records, COCA (the Center on Contemporary Art), and the much revered local music magazine The Rocket. It was as the first official Art Director for Sub Pop that she designed Nirvana’s first records and their now iconic logo.
During the 90's and early 2000's, Lisa was interested in expanding her artistic and musical vision. By starting a record label she was able to showcase Seattle's bands that weren't getting swept up into the grunge frenzy and began playing guitar and singing in a slew of bands herself. She saw a need for a cultural queer hub in Seattle and began putting on club nights and underground dance parties with a focus on creating inclusive community for Seattle's queer scene. She was often found DJing in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood to a crowd of young hip queer women. Between all this, she also found time to exhibit her personal art.
Orth admits to having a fascination with tattoos at a young age. Always an avid reader, by chance she discovered instructions on how to do jailhouse tattoos from a 60’s pulp novel. At the tender age of eight she started doing stick-and-poke tattoos with her younger sister. Their clandestine tattooing sessions taking place whenever their parents would leave the girls at home alone to go out square dancing.
With such an early start, one wonders why she didn’t consider tattooing as a profession earlier. “In the late 80’s when I was old enough to get tattooed in a shop, I knew right away that the traditional tattoo shop environment wasn't for me,” she explains. “Being an independently minded, queer, female artist the last place I wanted to spend my days working was with a bunch of misogynistic biker dudes, who in turn had little understanding of the worlds I inhabited and what I was all about.”
In 2007, being offered a chance to learn how to tattoo by her friend Owen Connell, she dove obsessively headfirst into the craft. This mentorship proved inspirational, with Connell inspiring her to focus solely on her original art and vision, and encouraging her to establish her own shop with a private studio atmosphere.
Her work environment is extremely important, both for herself and her patrons. Everything in her studio is geared towards the ultimate client experience. From the soaring ceilings rich in natural light, to the state of the art tattoo chairs and mindfully curated soundtrack, she’s cultivated a climate rich in warmth, privacy, comfort and calm. Her focused attention ensures each person the ultimate in customized service, an energetic haven in the midst of the busy world outside the studio walls.
She says she’s glad she didn’t start tattooing until later. “I entered into tattooing at just the right time,” she explains. “The industry had changed so much, there were more women tattooing, more queer voices, more acceptance for original vision, and work with artistry that lay outside the traditional lines.” She immersed herself in the craft. Dedicated to the art of tattooing and graciously tormented by perfectionism, her linework based art style garnered her awards, international acclaim, and a bevy of clients vying for a chance to give her full artistic license to make their dreams come alive on skin.
Seeking relief from the decades of rain, she moved to Los Angeles in 2015, and spent a blissful 5 years soaking up sunshine and refining her craft. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Lisa, like so many others, re-evaluated what was really important to her. A move back to Seattle, to reconnect with friends, family, and community, was the result of this heartfealt inner search.