An authentic metal head like few others (her favourite band is Death – of the dear departed Chuck Schuldiner), Alisha Gory works at Sacred Tattoo in New York. Let’s get to know her better…
So Alisha, how did you become a professional tattooist?
Well, it was kind of out of luck. I graduated from art school and then moved to New York City. One day I went to this gallery show at East Side Ink where I met a tattoo maker who introduced me to my mentor, Jon Mesa. I had never really dreamed of becoming a tattooer, but I knew I wanted to do something related to art.
Then what exactly happened?
I worked at a neighbourhood shop in Brooklyn for a while, but it didn’t work out. After that, Jon Mesa apprenticed me for a long time, and we are still very close to this day. However many other artists helped me out along the way and I feel very grateful towards each one of them.
Where does this fascination for Black and Grey come from?
I’ve never been much of a “colour person”. I only wear black and I only like neutral colors. I would actually like to use colors more in the future, as long as they are from a more muted, darker palette.
Let’s talk about the pieces you have on your own body: do you have any favorite tattooists?
I can’t say that I have just one favourite, but I do have a lot of artists that I admire. To start with, my mentor Jon Mesa, of course, and my friend/roommate Matt Buck from No Idols Tattoo in New York. I also love Emily Rose Murray who is based in Australia, Grime from Skull and Sword in San Francisco (at the moment it is closed indefinitely, Ed.), Alexander Grim, and Shige from Yellow Blaze, in Yokohama, Japan.
Who is that warrior saddled to a tiger, that you have on your right thigh?
That would be Ronnie James Dio, the unforgettable singer of Rainbow and Black Sabbath (unfortunately he passed away in 2010, Ed.). Tim Lehi did it, and it’s still a work in progress.
And who is that black metal musician you have on the inside of your left arm?
Gorgoroth’s drummer. I got that tattoo when I was young.
Let’s just go ahead and say it: you are a hardcore metal head!
No kidding! I wouldn’t be able to survive without albums like Judas Priest’s ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Screaming For Vengeance’, Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’, Death’s ‘Sound Of Perseverance’, ‘Symbolic’ and ‘Human’, Mercyful Fate’s ‘Don’t Break The Oath’, Manowar’s ‘Kings of Metal’, Morbid Angel’s ‘Altars Of Madness’, Carcass’ ‘Heartwork’, and Celtic Frost’s ‘Morbid Tales’ … I’ll stop here because I could go on and on all day!
You actually do have a very romantic tribute to Chuck Schuldiner on your tummy. I am talking of course about that “Chuck S.” lettering, with a heart and a B.C. Rich guitar.
Yes, Chuck has been the love of my life ever since I was little girl, and Death is my all-time favourite band. I always used to think that if I was ever going to tattoo a man’s name on my body, it could only be his.
You also have Slayer’s eagle logo on your left leg: have you ever met them in person?
Unfortunately I haven’t, but let’s see what happens in the future. And anyway, if you asked me which of their songs I love the most, I’d say ‘Hell Awaits’, ‘South of Heaven’, ‘Raining Blood’, ‘Angel of Death’ and ‘Seasons in the Abyss’.
Follow Alisha on Instagram: @alishagory
Photos by Christian Saint