Dan Lorenzo: We first met in NYC years ago and you lived in...Wyoming, right? What made you move to Colorado?
Autumn Hudson: I lived in Montana when we met in NYC two years ago. Since then, as much as I absolutely love Montana, I needed to get out and challenge myself more. I really wanted to grow as an artist, and it wasn't happening as quickly as I hoped it would in Montana. I tried to find a tattoo shop where I could work with other artists I could ask questions and get criticism from. I was told once, "If you are the best artist in the room, you need to find a new room." I'm sure that saying is used often, and many people have heard it, so I found a new room. I feel unbelievably lucky to have been offered a job at Elysium Studios. There are ten other artists there who are incredibly talented, and I think this is the right environment to grow and learn. It's in Colorado, which still has the wonders of the outdoors and mountains which I love so much.
I've been trying to interview you for years. Why has this been so hard? Are you just really busy or was it something else?
I would love to tell you that I have been so busy that I haven't had time to give an interview. However, I think it has more to do with the fact that I struggle with time management and get distracted easily. Most days that I do not have set aside for designing or tattooing, I am driving out of internet range and cell phone reception. This winter, I was trying to snowboard in every mountain range I could get to, and then I recently picked up rock climbing, which is filling a lot of my free time. I feel that while I am making art or tattoos, I'm not very active, so every chance I get to move and get some exercise and see all the beauty nature has to offer, I'm going to take that opportunity. My apologies for it taking so long, but I did finally have some time to put aside for an interview.
You're an amazing artist. What recommendations would you offer artists who are already good, but want to take it to the next level like you've achieved?
As long as you keep pushing to learn, you're going to keep improving. Travel, go to conventions, ask questions, and don't be afraid to ask for some critique. Art is always evolving, so you have to stay on top of it. Paint, draw, design, and tattoo as much as you can. Take some classes from other artists. Get out of your comfort zone and do something weird with your art. Try something you aren't comfortable with tattooing. Sometimes that's how you can find yourself. Put your soul into your work. I'm continually trying to improve, and I always feel like I am ten steps behind the rest of the world, but I want to keep trying, keep pushing, and love that I will never be satisfied with my work because that's how it will get better.
You can't be as good as you are without God-given talent... can you?
I truly believe that it is only about 5% talent... so thank God for that 5% and 95% stubbornness. You can thank my mom for that, stubbornness is genetic in our family. [laughs] I always appreciate people telling me I am talented, but I honestly think I just drew a lot. Malcolm Gladwell said, "You have to have 10,000 hours in a subject to be an expert." I have definitely spent well over 10,000 hours making art, and I still don't feel like an expert. However, I know the more time I put into my art, the more I learn.
Gladwell's Tipping Point is one of my favorite books ever! What's your set up look like when you tattoo?
I have been playing around with many different brands when it comes to my set up. I have gotten a feel for the Peak Quartz needle cartridges. I love how small their bug pins are and I love the options for needle groupings. I always use curved mags when using mags, and I use so many needles everyone else in the shop makes fun of me. So I have a lineup of 9 or 10 needle cartridges usually ranging from a tight 3 liner to a 9 round shader and then a 5 mag to a 23 mag. As far as inks go, I have recently gotten into doing opaque greys with grey wash and some color. For color, I love Fusion inks, and for the opaques, the Poch set from World Famous is bomb! I have been using Silverback grey washes for several years now, and they look a little rough fresh, but beautiful when they heal.
As I interview you it's June and we are still in the pandemic. Your voice is shot... do I have to worry about you Autumn?
[laughs] I don't think we have anything to worry about. I got tested for COVID-19, and everything looks good. It seems people can still get regular illnesses while all this is going on. I figured with the amount of hand sanitizer I have been using, I would have been immune to everything, but for the first time in two years, I came down with something, at the worst time to get sick. On the bright side, it makes it much easier to answer questions when I can't go out in public right now.
Is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
I'm not sure if this would surprise anyone. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know I'm a little strange, but I like to collect obscure things. I have many taxidermy insects and spiders, three living tarantulas, a pile of animal bones, and a few human skulls. I also recently rescued a tadpole, who I am now raising in a small fish tank. His name is "Tad," my boyfriend picked out his name and helped me rescue the little sperm looking dude. Let's hope Tad survives to be a real frog one day. I am also an aspiring writer. I have been working on some short autobiographical stories as well as some longer fiction. I don't know if my work is any good yet, but we'll see if I ever get anything published. If I do, I'll let you know.
Anything else you want to tell our readers?
Go out there and try something you are scared of. Whether it's a new style of tattooing, a new form of art, whitewater rafting, reaching out and asking your hero some questions or skydiving, just try it. I dare you.
Check out more work by Autumn Hudson on Instagram, @AutumnHudson.Tattoos