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Sierra Hubbard has 60 tattoos

Started out out at IB's Flesh Skin Grafix where her parents got inkwork done

“Almost a quarter of my tattoos I’ve tattooed on myself,” says Hubbard.
“Almost a quarter of my tattoos I’ve tattooed on myself,” says Hubbard.

When Sierra Hubbard posts up by the Surfhenge art installation at the IB Pier entrance in her red ‘68 Chevy Nova, folks take notice. The 60 tattoos adorning her 5’10” frame play a large part in her allure. “Almost a quarter of my tattoos,” she said in a recent Reader interview, “I’ve tattooed on myself.” Anybody who’s gotten a tattoo knows of the pain and discomfort a tattoo gun’s needle can cause as it penetrates the skin up to 3000 times a minute. Keeping still while using it on yourself is no small feat.

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When she was here on the pier as a youngster, she would sometimes notice something, suddenly stop whatever she was doing, and draw it. “I loved drawing, painting, doing ceramics, and anything I could feel creative and get my hands on.” This creative approach would lead to her first tattoo years later, when she was attending Mar Vista High School. “I was 16 and at a friend’s house, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted,” she recounts. “All I knew was that it needed to be small and hidden.” Her buddy found an image of a dandelion with birds flying from it, “and put it on me for $20.” It proved inspirational. “Coming into high school, I had no game plan, but when I got into art class, that’s where I learned to get better at my craft. I instantly started pursuing the thought of becoming a tattoo artist. I would leave school, go to tattoo shops, and ask around to be an apprentice,” recalls Hubbard. “Many told me ‘no’ or that I was too young, and one shop even told me it’s a male-run industry and that I wouldn’t make it.” Nevertheless, the teenager persisted. “I would stay up late every night after I did my homework, and I’d paint and draw until two or three in the morning, then wake up at six to do it all over again.”

One day after school, Hubbard strolled into Mike Martin’s Flesh Skin Grafix (FSG) at 1155 Palm Avenue in IB. Her parents had gotten inkwork done there. Further, “Mike Martin was in the Navy SEALs with my grandfather, so I thought he’d have a soft side for maybe taking me in.” After she graduated from high school, Martin allowed her to answer the shop’s phones and clean up. And in between tattoo sessions — many of which Martin performed on military personnel — “he taught me how to pierce and then tattoo.” Hubbard’s tat-craft blossomed into a repertoire of many styles, though she leans more towards the Neo-Traditional and black-and-gray style of tattooing. Today, she works full-time at FSG tattoo shop alongside Laura Becker, the new manager at FSG, and charges between $60 to $150 per hour for tattoo work.

Place

Flesh Skin Grafix

1155 Palm Avenue, San Diego

Hubbard’s art portfolio runs deep. She’s tattooed everything from Victorian-style portraits to kitty-cat renderings to detailed floral pieces with line art and intense shading. When I asked Hubbard what her favorite ink was within her body of work, she paused before answering, “Before my mentor Mike Martin passed away three years ago, I tattooed a small panther face on his ankle for his birthday.” Then, last September, Hubbard requested Jeff Walker from Bearcat Tattoo Gallery to tattoo a panther face onto her neck. “And now, I get to look at the panther on my neck every day and know all the hard work I put into this craft has paid off. Mike made people feel at home and safe when being tattooed or pierced by anyone at our shop. I’m here today because of Mike; I’m keeping his shop and legacy alive.”

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“Almost a quarter of my tattoos I’ve tattooed on myself,” says Hubbard.
“Almost a quarter of my tattoos I’ve tattooed on myself,” says Hubbard.

When Sierra Hubbard posts up by the Surfhenge art installation at the IB Pier entrance in her red ‘68 Chevy Nova, folks take notice. The 60 tattoos adorning her 5’10” frame play a large part in her allure. “Almost a quarter of my tattoos,” she said in a recent Reader interview, “I’ve tattooed on myself.” Anybody who’s gotten a tattoo knows of the pain and discomfort a tattoo gun’s needle can cause as it penetrates the skin up to 3000 times a minute. Keeping still while using it on yourself is no small feat.

Sponsored
Sponsored

When she was here on the pier as a youngster, she would sometimes notice something, suddenly stop whatever she was doing, and draw it. “I loved drawing, painting, doing ceramics, and anything I could feel creative and get my hands on.” This creative approach would lead to her first tattoo years later, when she was attending Mar Vista High School. “I was 16 and at a friend’s house, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted,” she recounts. “All I knew was that it needed to be small and hidden.” Her buddy found an image of a dandelion with birds flying from it, “and put it on me for $20.” It proved inspirational. “Coming into high school, I had no game plan, but when I got into art class, that’s where I learned to get better at my craft. I instantly started pursuing the thought of becoming a tattoo artist. I would leave school, go to tattoo shops, and ask around to be an apprentice,” recalls Hubbard. “Many told me ‘no’ or that I was too young, and one shop even told me it’s a male-run industry and that I wouldn’t make it.” Nevertheless, the teenager persisted. “I would stay up late every night after I did my homework, and I’d paint and draw until two or three in the morning, then wake up at six to do it all over again.”

One day after school, Hubbard strolled into Mike Martin’s Flesh Skin Grafix (FSG) at 1155 Palm Avenue in IB. Her parents had gotten inkwork done there. Further, “Mike Martin was in the Navy SEALs with my grandfather, so I thought he’d have a soft side for maybe taking me in.” After she graduated from high school, Martin allowed her to answer the shop’s phones and clean up. And in between tattoo sessions — many of which Martin performed on military personnel — “he taught me how to pierce and then tattoo.” Hubbard’s tat-craft blossomed into a repertoire of many styles, though she leans more towards the Neo-Traditional and black-and-gray style of tattooing. Today, she works full-time at FSG tattoo shop alongside Laura Becker, the new manager at FSG, and charges between $60 to $150 per hour for tattoo work.

Place

Flesh Skin Grafix

1155 Palm Avenue, San Diego

Hubbard’s art portfolio runs deep. She’s tattooed everything from Victorian-style portraits to kitty-cat renderings to detailed floral pieces with line art and intense shading. When I asked Hubbard what her favorite ink was within her body of work, she paused before answering, “Before my mentor Mike Martin passed away three years ago, I tattooed a small panther face on his ankle for his birthday.” Then, last September, Hubbard requested Jeff Walker from Bearcat Tattoo Gallery to tattoo a panther face onto her neck. “And now, I get to look at the panther on my neck every day and know all the hard work I put into this craft has paid off. Mike made people feel at home and safe when being tattooed or pierced by anyone at our shop. I’m here today because of Mike; I’m keeping his shop and legacy alive.”

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