There’s a ton of nude girls on Instagram—but none are as cool as Brittny Abad‘s tattoos. Using fine lines, florals and geometric shapes, the Portland-based artist inks delicate female figures with a radical twist. Whether they’ve got flower pots for heads or they’re missing limbs, all of Brittny’s women share a quiet confidence—as does all of her work. Fusing the tenderness of her subjects with her love for science, Brittny strategically crafts intricate yet minimal portraits that are subversive and slightly surreal—not to mention, kind of ’80s. But the combination works, and in a male-dominated industry like the world of tattoos, it’s refreshing to know there’s a woman behind a bunch of nudes.
BULLETT caught up with the artist to talk moving, molecular biology and mental health.
Name: Brittny Abad
Favorite Song To Tattoo To: “Small Talk,” Majid Jordan
Worst Tattoo Request: I refuse to tattoo a dragon on your dick!
How did you get into tattoos?
I started learning when I moved to Portland last summer.
When did you get your first tattoo?
I got it when I turned 18—it was of the molecular structure for serotonin on my ribs. At the time, I had just enrolled in college and it really represented my commitment to mental health both for myself and for others.
What was the moment you went from liking tattoos to wanting to be a tattoo artist?
It wasn’t until I moved to Portland and really became engulfed in the local art and tattooing community, that I even ever thought about tattooing. A few people suggested that I look into it, and suddenly everything just clicked with me and I knew that it was what I had to do.
A lot of your tattoos have a very geometric style. Where does that come from?
Prior to tattooing, I majored in psychology and was very into genetic research and neuroscience. I think a lot of the geometry that appears in my art stems from my love for the sciences.
You also ink a lot of nude female bodies. Why is that?
I love women, and I love being a woman. I enjoy that people can relate to that in so many different ways.
So, how do you navigate being a woman in the tattoo industry?
I’ve always struggled growing up as a queer woman who dresses and acts very masculine, so I think my inability to really ‘fit’ into one of those two overarching gender categories has actually helped me avoid the issue altogether, at least in terms of the tattooing world.
You have a large online following. What role has Instagram played in your career?
In many ways, Instagram has actually shaped my career. When I started tattooing, I had just moved to a new state without any friends or family, so all of my first tattoos were done on people that had found me through the site. The amount of trust and support I’ve received online has been insane, and definitely helped me a lot with getting my feet through the door.
How do you come up with your designs?
I like to draw whatever feels good to me—I’m constantly playing on themes of love and lust which engulfs my life outside of tattooing either way. I can’t lie though, I also get a ton of inspiration listening to rap, hip-hop and R&B.
Do you approach drawing differently than you approach drawing a tattoo?
The only time I approach drawing a tattoo differently, is when the client has other tattoos to work around or a specific area on the body that they are trying to fill. Otherwise, I draw the same way I tattoo, and I just draw whatever the heck I want. I’ve heard some people say my work can come off as ‘stamp-y’ because of that, but I enjoy how impactful my pieces can be when translated onto skin.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I am a very anxious person and am always struggling with mental health issues, but I’ve realized that I feel so much better drawing things that I like and that make me feel good. In fact, I’d say a lot of my art is due to what makes me feel good, and the byproduct is that other people get tattoos from me because it also makes them feel good. I also like to mix girly themes and imagery with tough, bold lines and sections of solid-fill to kind of emphasize my appreciation for both masculinity and femininity.