“I knew from my first line that I loved it.”
Words by Ivan Tan
Photography by J.A. Tadena for Fotomojo
Styled by Sidney Yap
Make up by Ning Tadena
Hair by Marie Tan
Special thanks to Quark Henares and Nena Belo
Sarah is wearing a white v-neck tee by Trunkshow, dog tags by d! at Tresorie and fatigue distressed vest from Eairth by Melissa Dizon.
Sarah Gaugler is known in music circles as the chick that does album covers. Her work on Orange and Lemons’ Moonlane Gardens won the NU Rock Awards for Best Album Packaging in 2007 and the Awit Award for Album Packaging Excellence in 2008. She did the illustrations for Kami nAPO Muna Ulit, the Apo Hiking Society’s second tribute album. Her art is cute and strange and compelling, so much so that they have found their way onto people’s skin. Literally.
What do you know about Sarah?
That she is cute is obvious. That she holds a gun on a daily basis and has the power to make grown men cry is less so.
She talks about the first time she put tattoo gun to skin, watching as the ink sunk in and the blood welled up. The blood, she says, doesn’t make her queasy. “I just think of it as red paint.” She isn’t one of those freaks that get high on the red stuff either. For Sarah, it’s the thought of having one of her designs on a person’s skin for the rest of their lives is what lures her to the art.
“The first guy I tattooed said I could do anything, as long as I incorporated the word ‘pag-asa’ into it,” Sarah says. The result was a stylized woman holding onto the words, all done in Sarah’s sweet but slightly disturbing style.
“I draw weird creatures and pretty, weird things. I usually draw flowers or monsters,” she says.
She fell into her current occupation of tattoo artist by accident. The suggestion was made during a bout of drinking with her band-mate Pao Diaz. (Yes, Sarah is also in a band, but more on that later.) It eventually became a calling. “He said I could draw on skin, make it my canvass,” she says, “I love tattoos. I was going to get one then so it seemed natural.”
Sarah now has four tattoos, all of them done by other people. “I haven’t tattooed myself yet,” she says. (Notice how there’s a “yet” at the end of that sentence.)
Her second tattoo was a girl’s face on the inside of that same girl’s arm, near her elbow.
“Every (client) is interesting,” she says, “Some can be so quiet that you don’t know if you’re doing what they want. I like the feeling of when the tattoo is done—and they love it. I’m humbled and flattered because it’s going to be with them forever.”
She has also done her share of cover-ups. Unlike Johnny Depp’s shoddy transformation of “Winona” to “Wino,” Sarah tries to make hers more of a transformation. A metamorphosis, if you will. “A girl had the name of her ex tattooed on her back. It said “I”m sorry (boyfriend’s name) I love you.” The “I’m sorry” part of it was drawn very badly because she had it done at the kanto when no tattoo parlor would do it for her,” Sarah explains, “I had to make the whole thing into a butterfly.” Challenges like this is where Sarah’s art is really put to the test. She takes what is there and transforms it into something else, something different, something that is of her but still about the person it brands. Sarah has been asked to draw different things, but the one thing that ties all her designs together is that they have to be beautiful. Like a pretty little gift after all the scabs are gone and the blood has washed away.
“Every tattoo I’ve done is always different,” she says, “The skin is always different. Sometimes its’ tougher, sometimes its softer, sometimes it wiggles more. Every tattoo is a challenge because I don’t know what kind of skin I’m going to get and what design I’m going to be asked to do.” There is something comforting about the human touch, especially if the person touching you is pretty. Sarah’s touch is light, almost like a caress.
Want more? Grab our May issue for more photos of Sarah Gaugler and the complete article by Ivan Tan.
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