With all of the homegrown talent in SoCal’s tattoo scene, it’s not easy for a young artist to make a big splash when they relocate to the ink-saturated area. But after Miryam Lumpini decided to make her way out to the West Coast from Sweden in 2012, it didn’t take long for her to gain a strong following of both celebrity clientele and diehard tattoo collectors.
Although originally known as one of the disciples of famous black and gray tattoo artist Victor Portugal, Lumpini crafted a style all her own. Fusing bright colors with vivid details and shading, “the Witch Doctor” makes sure all of her tattoos have the unique look landing somewhere between fine art and illustration. But before she was inking the rich and famous, Lumpini’s love of tattoos began when she was just a kid with a long commute.
“As a little girl, I had to sit on a bus for an hour and a half to get to school,” Lumpini says. “As I was doing that, I would buy tattoo magazines while I was on the bus. I was always interested in drawing, and I used to really like drawing horses. I remember seeing this one picture in a magazine by Victor Portugal of this beautiful horse face. I tried to draw that and imitate that, and then I started trying to draw other tattoos.”
As a teenager, Lumpini’s interest in tattooing continued as she researched tattoo artists for a school project about her dream career and continued to hone her drawing skills. By the age of 17, the multi-talented artist was already drawing tattoos for her friends and ready to begin her own tattooing journey however she could.
“I went with my friend when she was getting tattooed, and she asked me to draw the tattoo – a cowgirl – for her,” Lumpini says. “The tattooist told me I really had potential and should come back when I was 18 to apprentice at the studio. The day after my 18th birthday, I went back to the studio to get the chest piece that I drew to show them I was dedicated. It hurt so bad, but I wanted them to think I was tough and cool and badass, so I’d be qualified to become a tattoo artist. Then when I asked them if I could apprentice, they told me they already had an apprentice, so I decided to just buy a starter kit online and start tattooing on my friends instead.”
In 2010 – just a couple of years after trying her hand at tattooing on her own – Lumpini landed a true apprenticeship under Portugal and his cousin, Diego Hernandez in Kalmar, Sweden. It was then that her skills and career began to take off, and after just two more years in Europe she was ready to take her talents to California.
Since arriving on American soil, Lumpini’s artwork and tattoos have caught the eye of some of the biggest names of the music industry. With her sights set on collaborating with the best music events the state has to offer (like the Grammys and Coachella), the industry contacts Lumpini gets are nowhere near as important to her as the personal connections she makes with each and every one of her clients. There’s a certain vibe Lumpini gets from creating art with and for another artist, and that’s ultimately what drives her to put her all into every tattoo.
“All of my clients are creative in different ways,” Lumpini says. “I’m very blessed to meet all of them and hear all of their stories, because you can be successful in so many different ways. All of these people are people who I really appreciate being around and motivate me. I can share my artistic visions, and music is obviously a big part of my life. It’s a cool connection, and it’s so cool to collaborate with them to create art in its purest form.”
Much like her musical clients, Lumpini’s leaving her private studio and going on a tour of her own. The rock star tattooer is bringing her art to Atlanta at the end of the month, followed by New Orleans, Miami, New York, Hawaii, and more.
Private Studio, @miryamlumpini