A producer of intriguing cult-movies (we recommend you see her ‘We Must Remain the Wildhearted Outsiders’), but also a medical student with ambitious ideas («I want to make loads of money and invest it in new film projects!»), Pemberton has a mind that never stops planning, and a body decorated by such well-known artists as Ryan Mason, Jon Glessner, and Atom from Seattle. During our interview, she told us a few stories about her tattoos….
Amanda, is there a specific reason why you fell in love with tattoo art?
My mom was a bartender at a biker bar in Texas, and so from a very young age I was exposed to tattoos. My stepdad had a lot of tattoos and my older sister started getting them when she turned eighteen. My mother used to always tell us we would regret getting tattoos, but after she saw my sister and me, she changed her mind about them. In fact, she now has five herself! (laughs)
What did you get as your very first tattoo?
My very first tattoo was done in Houston, Texas by my roommate Jonathan, on my bedroom floor. I remember how he did it with a syringe and ‘India’ ink. It was by far the most painful tattoo I’ve ever received, and fortunately the smallest.
He tattooed a triskele (an ancient Celtic symbol consisting of three spirals, Ed) on my neck, at the top of my spine.
When I had it covered up a year later, the tattoo artist told me Jonathan had stabbed me so deep that he believed the ink went all the way to the bone!
Let’s talk about the “real” subjects in your tattoos: wild animals, flowers, leaves, etc. Why? Do you love the country, or are these just aesthetic subjects?
For the latter reason you mentioned, since none of my tattoos have any deep meaning. I have a red breasted grosbeak on my leg because those birds used to fly around the farm in Iowa where I lived. I have a deer tattooed on my stomach because there were deer everywhere when I lived in the Ozarks (a vast geographical area comprising Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, Ed). I collected cameos for years and eventually permanently installed one on my chest. Some of my tattoos were completely thought up by the artist. I have a shark on my wrist because it was ‘Shark Week’… and I had been drinking a lot that day, too. (smiles)
So let’s talk about that cameo you have on your chest: does the woman depicted on it represent anyone in particular?
This kind of cameo jewellery was more prevalent in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s. I believe in the past; cameos were carved in the owner’s likeness, but I’ve always bought them at antique stores, so I’ve never known who the women are on my cameos. I asked Jon Glessner who was working at Ghost Town Odditorium in Old Ellicott City and at Saints and Sinners in Baltimore to draw a cameo for me, and this is the result of his artistic efforts.
Before you were talking about a deer (still a fawn) on your stomach…
Well, this is the story: for two years I produced a movie in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and then moved up to Seattle, Washington to make some money so I could finish paying for the post-production of my movie. When I first got to Seattle, I went to Atom at his Artcore studio and he tattooed my baby fawn. It was just something that reminded me of Arkansas.
Photos by Christian Saint