words by Kitty Knorr
*The original version of this interview with Lexi Hollis can be found in
Okay Cool Magazine Issue #1 "How to Deal"
“Coming into a space with your own presentation because you designed your exterior and with your own spirit, is a form of liberation. It’s a way of refusing to be ignored… I adorn my body as a way of owning my body and as a way to acknowledge the traditions that came before me that saw the body as a temple.” -Kamil Oshundra
Getting fired from her desk job freed Hollis to pursue tattooing.
Getting sober and going to therapy, freed Hollis to believe in herself and kick some ass in the process.
We live in a matrix, a man made matrix.
A capitalist driven, go to school, go to work and grind until you die kind of matrix.
Capitalism brainwashes the individual into finding and defining self worth by way of career.
Current social, economic and political climates reaffirm the subconscious, false belief that you are what you do. LISTEN LINDA, YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO.
“Once I rearranged my own self worth and put more value in myself as a person- outside of my profession or how I looked on paper, then I was able to follow my passions. I was able to say, ok I’m going to try this because I’m worth it and if I fail I know I can handle it.” -Lexi Hollis
Lexi Hollis, a wonder woman wise beyond her years, is here to help undo some serious mental damage. A Brooklyn based tattoo artist and overall badass, Hollis sat down with Okay Cool Magazine and shared some insight into establishing a healthy relationship with yourself.
Hollis owns and operates Electric Safe Tattoo Studio. The studio serves as a creative safe space, freeing Hollis and her clients from the mystongistic and archaic politics of the tattoo industry.
Lexi Hollis is a talented, female force to be reckoned with however long before finding professional success, Hollis was forced to confront her self worth demons.
After years of straight A’s, a college degree and doing everything by the book, Hollis got fired from a big girl job in the art management world. “When I got fired from my first job, I was devastated. It wasn’t even the job I really wanted but it was a pretty big leap for me in the direction I thought I wanted to go in.”
Losing her desk job allowed Hollis to demystify her fear of failing.
“Turns out failure isn’t this big horrible thing,” Hollis laughed. “I only spent my entire life dreading [failure] to learn that I can handle it.”
Unemployed and unsatisfied, Hollis’s journey from a desk job into the tattoo world was not a linear one. After being let go and “failing” for the first time, Hollis began tuning into her intuition- she prioritized her mental health.
“Six months before I started searching for a tattoo apprenticeship, I made the decision to get sober. I stopped drinking, I stopped doing drugs, I began living more consciously. I started to deal with my sh*t. I got into therapy- that’s a big one for me, so much therapy. Everyone’s got their own stuff, their own baggage and I had to deal with mine before I could uncover what that was and how it’s affecting me and start to reevaluate myself and how I feel about myself. It helped me stop placing so much value in how others see me and how I feel about myself and what I actually want to be doing.”
Learning about Hollis’s passion for therapy and self care felt REFRESHING. It’s conversations like these that slowly but surely free self-help resources from embarrassing, elitist stigmas.
“I use the tools I’ve learned in therapy to manage my life.
When you have repetitive thinking, which is common for any creative types- anxiety, fears, doubts, with any repetitive thought we develop physical grooves in our brains. So whenever I have negative thoughts I remember I need to BE GENTLE WITH MYSELF.
I don’t beat myself for having negative thoughts in the first place because they are physically ingrained in me, but I do make an effort to rearrange my thinking.
In my head I’ll make a list of things I’m grateful for in my life and then through that list I can create a new list of what I like about myself and what I appreciate about myself. I have impossibly high standards for myself sometimes and I really think it’s important for me to remember I’m human. I’m not superwoman, I can’t do it all. I can’t make everyone happy but the more I worked through my own stuff, the more confidence I developed and the more I knew myself too.
It think it was important for me to discover where my passions actually lie and once I discovered that, then it was about believing in myself. Once I had the confidence to do that, I was like hey I can do this and if I CANT ITS OK BUT I NEED TO TRY BECAUSE IT’S WHAT I WANT.”
Four years lapsed between the time of Hollis’s initial interest in tattooing and the day she decided to go for it. We all deserve to find and pursue our passions. We’re all human. We all experience “the same f*cked up thoughts.”
Sometimes the only thing holding us back, is ourselves.
Unpacking her burdens and finding self worth outside of her career, liberated Hollis’s evolution into the accomplished, established, intelligent business woman she is today. However if you ask Hollis she’ll tell you, “I still with imposter syndrome constantly.”
Loving yourself, believing in yourself, choosing yourself is not a one-and-done thing. Prioritizing your mental health, especially as a creative, needs to become a daily habit and life-long practice.
“TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. That’s what this boils down to. You’re not going to be able do any of this stuff until [you take care of yourself]. Different things work for different people. I needed to learn to love myself before I could pursue tattooing. Whatever it is your passionate about, don’t stop trying to find a way in.”
When Okay Cool Magazine asked Hollis about her next move, she shared “My goal is to sit with where I’m at because I’ve spent so much time working towards things, I haven’t been able to appreciate how far I’ve come. So right now I’m fighting the urge to find a new studio or do something radically different, for new gratifaction.”
What does success look like to Hollis?
“Success means being ok with myself.”
Living in a world where liking yourself is a radical notion, we can all learn a thing or to from Hollis.
You can find her amazing ink work @lexihollistattoo on Instagram.
Thank you Lexi!!