Editor's Note: Tattoo Tuesdays highlight Broward and Palm Beach counties most beloved tattoo artists and shops.
"I started hanging around tattoo shops when I was 16," Tattoo artist and Reno, Nevada, native Gwen Gersich, AKA "GiGi," says laughingly, "I ditched school on my 18th birthday to get my first." While she admits that the tattoo probably wasn't the most well-chosen (she has a good sized skull and crossbones on her leg, flames included), she doesn't regret it. "It sounds dumb, but it's what I wanted."
However, Gwen didn't always know she wanted to become a tattoo artist. In fact, she spent most of her time growing skipping class to hang out in the art room and listen to classic rock with her teacher. "I've been doing art ever since I can remember," she tells us, "I was five years old when I had crayons for the first time, and just sort of grew from there with different mediums."
She recalls, "I won an award once during sixth grade. The school district had the 'gifted and talented' program and I was in a 'special' group. My art was hung in the Governor's mansion in Carson City." The piece is still in her closet.
Gwen is one of those people that you feel like you've known forever. She is quiet and seemingly shy, but that's just until you get to know her. She recalls a moment in her life when she realized "The desert life really wasn't for me any longer." She explains that she worked a few jobs and continued to pursue her passion for art at The Art Institute until she found a tattoo artist who later became her mentor.
"I started my apprenticeship in early 2010," she says, "It lasted a little over a year, and I started tattooing skin in July 2011." Gersich continues, "Art and tattooing is my life. I have learned something from every tattooist I have ever met."
Gersich currently works at one of the two Formula Ink locations, a store owned by fellow tattooer Holden Ritchison. She is a fan of tattooing traditional and neo-traditional styles but says "I enjoy them all," adding, "You get to take life and it distorts into this other really cool reality." Kind of new-agey, yes, but completely Gwen.
When we visited the shop last week, Gwen was tattooing a client's chest. The custom piece (below) took about two hours to complete, but it didn't seem to phase JT. The design commemorated his recent marriage to wife, Kristin. The pair were initially walk-ins, of sorts, but have slowly become GiGi regulars, sporting numerous detailed one-of-a-kind pieces.
"Gwen is great," the couple both agreed. "We can't wait to get more."
Gersich hasn't let her popularity go to her head, saying, "I may be new to the industry, but I'm an old soul." This is something that her friends and clients could agree upon. Having been tattooed by Gwen several times, we can assure you, she never fails to deliver.
Formula Ink 1, 3045 N. Federal Hwy in Fort Lauderdale, (954) 566-6614. Formula Ink 2, 1210 NE 4th Ave just South of Wilton Manors in Fort Lauderdale, (954) 530-7041.
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