To say that Miryam Lumpini is a rock star among tattoo artists would probably be a bit of a misnomer. If anything, she’s a rapper who happens to drop her bars in the form of ink and paint. The artist, also known as “the Witch Doctor,” certainly carries the energy and air of a rap superstar — traveling with an entourage of managers, stylists, photographers and other assistants — but where many tattooers might get wrapped up in the fanfare, bonkers social media following and shots of tequila, Lumpini always makes sure her art comes first. With a private studio and a devoted team handling the business side of things, the petite artist has found a way to circumvent the politics and drama of the tattoo industry to put more focus on the work itself.
But after creating a colorful tattooing style all her own and becoming a successful visual artist, Lumpini has found a new way to connect her fans with her artwork. At live events such as concerts, panels and festivals, the Swedish artist and her crew bring a mannequin, paints and other supplies, and Lumpini decorates it. It's not a huge departure from tattoo art, but it allows her to experiment in different settings and feed off the energy of an audience.
“I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life, but performing live body art makes me venture out of my comfort zone and experience the creative process under different circumstances and in different situations,” Lumpini says. “Every time I do live art, it’s not just me experiencing the art. It’s for everyone around me to be a part of that moment. Having dope energy around me while I’m creating is really such a big part of why I love live body art. It’s interactive. I paint on mannequins, fans get to paint on me, I paint on them. It’s a big, beautiful cycle of body art.”
When she’s not focused on painting mannequins, walls and other large canvases, Lumpini’s bread and butter is still her tattoo clientele. But while many of the folks who travel from around the world to Lumpini’s private studio in downtown L.A. do so because of how much they appreciate her work, the Witch Doctor insists that her clients are actually the talented ones. From musicians to entrepreneurs, many of the high-demand tattooer’s living canvases come from creative backgrounds. Lumpini believes it’s actually the mutual attraction and understanding between artists that has brought her the success she’s seen over the past seven years.
“Having clients who come from different parts of the world to get a piece of my art on their body really just makes me feel comfortable in their belief in the connection we share,” Lumpini says. “When someone comes from far away, it just confirms that my art truly spoke to them. Usually, my clients are super relatable and genuine, and they’re talented in ways I could never even imagine.”
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Beyond her art, Lumpini is part of the new breed of tattooers who know how to utilize and market on social media as well as any celebrity. Whether it’s live-streaming one of her sessions, keeping her Snapchat story going throughout the day or interacting with fans and potential clients via Instagram, the Witch Doctor’s use of social platforms to share her life and work have made her popular with folks around the world who may not be interested in tattooing otherwise.
“I was tattooing before Instagram,” Lumpini says with a laugh. “But with social media, my art can travel and resonate with people whom I wouldn’t normally be able to communicate with using only words.”
For the first time, Lumpini will get a chance to visit some of those international fans in person. After touring her live art and tattooing throughout the United States earlier this year, she’ll be embarking on her first European tattoo tour in July. Not only will it be a chance for a good chunk of her online following to meet her in the flesh for the first time, but the voyage will also serve as a homecoming after crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction as a relatively anonymous tattoo artist five years ago.
“It’s awesome for me personally, because I haven’t been back to Sweden since I left for Los Angeles in 2012,” Lumpini says. “It’s also important to remind myself to live in the moment and stay focused.”