Meet Black Ink: Compton, Vudu Dahl in Q&A
From being a sheltered youth from Seattle to now gracing national television with her talents, Vh1Black Ink: Compton member Vudu Dahl is on a mission to leave her mark on the world. Dahl faced adversities that hindered her growth as a youth. With limited access to the outside world due to her parent’s religious commune, she mustered the courage to break free, even leaving behind 13 of her siblings. Dahl eventually ran down a dark road to drugs and alcohol. To help overcome her addictions, she found a passion for tattooing. Joining Black Ink: Compton Dahl has now become an apprentice and prodigy in the tattoo world. Dahl wants to spread as much love as she can while encouraging all women to love themselves. Dahl is using her platform to raise awareness and advocate for social issues impacting the LGBTQ community.
Describe yourself in a few words —
I’m from Seattle, WA, and I moved to L.A. a couple of years ago to pursue my career as a professional tattoo artist/model. I’m a proud queer and advocate for the LGBTQ community. I hope my dedication to the arts will help bring a little more beauty into the world. I’m also really passionate about music, art, and traveling.
How long have you been a tattoo artist?
I started tattooing when I was about 20-years-old. I bought a machine and tattooed myself and some friends in my apartment. It wasn’t very good, so I stopped and pursued getting an apprenticeship. It took six years and a different state to find one! I’ve apprenticed at a shop for a year and a half now, so I’m not a full tattoo artist yet!
What do you enjoy most about being an artist? What do you hate most?
I love the process of the needle to skin. I love learning about new techniques and seeing what I learn to become a physical form. I’m so fascinated by it! I honestly can’t think of a single thing I dislike about being an artist. It can be frustrating at times, but the outcome is worth the trouble!
How has joining Black Ink: Compton benefited you?
Joining BICC has benefited me in more ways than I expected. I came into the situation not knowing what to expect, but after getting to know everyone, I feel like we’re a family. Of course, coming from different backgrounds, we all have our differences, but it inspires growth and creativity! I need to be in a supportive environment because it’s how I thrive, especially as an artist.
How many tattoos do you have?
Oh my gosh, I’m almost completely covered; I have too many to count!
What religious household were you brought up?
I grew up in a sort of a very strict and quasi-religious household. The “religion” was continually changing, so it was hard to keep up with at times.
What is your biggest struggle in the industry? And how do you overcome it?
The biggest struggle I’ve faced being in the tattoo industry is being female in a male-dominated culture. I’m young and attractive, and I’ve been told on several occasions that I didn’t look like a typical female tattoo artist and that I needed to stick to modeling, which of course, is quite insulting. Being told this only motivated me to work harder and learn as much as I can about being a better tattoo artist/artist. I love tattooing, and I love art. They are my first loves, and I’ll do all I can to grow my craft and gain the respect of my fellow artists.
When did you become addicted to drugs and alcohol?
When I got kicked out at the age of 18, I came into the world with zero knowledge of it. All I had were the clothes on my back, my fiery passion to “make it” and deep depression. I was suicidal, and I was alone. So I started drinking, and that quickly led to drugs. What started causal ended up becoming an addiction, and I couldn’t stop. My life was spiraling out of control until suddenly I had a random come-to-Jesus moment a few years ago, and I’ve been clean since! Alcoholism was a little more challenging to overcome, probably because it’s more readily available, but I no longer depend on alcohol. I’m a lot healthier mentally, so sometimes I’ll allow myself an occasional drink or two, and I’m fine.
What advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself not to worry so much. Things always work out in the end. I would also advise myself to be patient. My lack of patience is a huge flaw of mine, and when I don’t see things go as planned, I freak out, which leads to me worrying. And lastly but not least. I would tell myself, it’s ok to say “No” If you’re uncomfortable or you feel pressured, and you know it’s a bad idea, don’t do it! Your sanity and inner peace are more important than trying to please others.
What is an average day like for you?
I sleep in a lot! But I get up, make lunch and get to work on some art while listening to some Italian and Spanish audio on YouTube. After a few hours I’ll take a break and go for a walk by the beach with a hot chai tea latte in hand (even if it’s 90 degrees outside!) I’m a pretty chill person, so maybe I’ll catch a live music or comedy show nearby later that evening.
If you could describe your art in one word, what would it be?
I’m OBSESSED with Japanese traditional art/manga and various forms of classical European art. My work is a combination of the two, with added elements of macabre, pain, and infatuation.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me? Everything! I will tattoo, travel the world, visit many foreign museums, meet awesome people, eat, and sing to my heart’s content! More importantly, I want to focus on spreading more love and beauty in the world. I want to inspire people, such as myself, who came from rough backgrounds to overcome addiction and live their full, authentic lives!
Make sure to follow her on social media at @Vudu_Dahl