Who Did Your Ink?: Markella Mildenberger commemorates birthdays, "shenaniganing", and more

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      Who Did Your Ink? is the Straight’s weekly feature, where we ask badass Vancouverites about the talented artists, indelible stories, and, at times, questionable antics behind their most treasured tattoos.

      What's your name?  Markella Mildenberger (a.k.a. Markella Markella.)

      What do you do?  I may as well be an astronaut with all the exploring that I do and my plans for more. I am an artist, founder The Red Palette, and a writer.

      Who did your ink?  I have 12 tattoos done by different artists.

      What was your first tattoo?  I have a large one on the centre of my back (not a tramp stamp, though it's arguable) of a Virgo. I was 19 years old when I was bitten with the addictive venom of ink. It has spiralled into an annual frenzy of tattoos that commemorate various things over the years. I often get matching pieces with very close friends to commemorate a milestone, life, birthday, or some travel shenanigan.

      The last pieces I had done were these three tattoos I got over the summer while "shenaniganing" or travelling and exploring. I have some mountains on my right ring finger that I had done in Dawson City, Yukon, by an artist who wasn't listed anywhere because, technically, there are no tattoo artists in Dawson City. I had to ask around town when I rolled in and finally acquainted myself with someone who had a friend who was pretty much the town tattooist.

      Yes, the inside of my finger hurt like a tiny saw was going through it. He also tattooed a strong-lined tree made from the word "North ’16" on my left bicep, which was a matching piece with a dear friend who I met and journeyed with for part of my Northern travels. The mountains represent me. There’s significance in their simplicity and the obvious nature of me: I enjoy exploring, climbing, hiking.

      The largest piece I have is on my left ribcage, which is also a matching tattoo. It’s one of my art pieces turned into repeating wallpaper: badass filigree skulls. One of my best friends has the same piece on his bicep; we had this done in Kelowna a few years ago at Dynamic Tattoo (273 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna). It was a birthday present. My friend actually lost part of a bet we made at the Lamlighter over pinball, so he has to add my initials to his as a sort of signature. (For the record, I won by three million points.)

      My upper-right shoulder has paint splatter. My sleeve begins on my right bicep, where there are three Dahlias that I created to look like a graphite drawing.

      Is there any meaning behind them?  I have a small outline of a heart on my left collarbone that was done at Freedom Tattoo in Vernon, B.C., by Riley Armstrong. There is lots of significance in this simple piece. Riley also did my paint splatter tattoo, the Dahlias, and a few other pieces.

      Three outlined stars grace the top of my left foot. These were inked on me during my 25th birthday in Las Vegas by a guy named Low Rider Dan with slicked back, '50s-styled hair. My friends and I were on a girls' trip and we all got similar tattoos. We rounded off the trip with me getting a birthday lap dance from our server at an IHOP. The stars represent those that light up my life.

      I have a small anchor on my right rib cage and a Calla Lily on my right ankle done, which was done in Edmonton. I have a feather on my right inner forearm that found its way there over the summer during my travels in Tofino. It was done by Saeed Reza Pour from Ink FX Tattoo & Piercing and was a birthday gift that commemorates my solo journey.

      Why did you choose these artists to do your tattoos?  I choose all these artists based on their portfolios. However, some were the result of time and place and feeling it in the moment.

      Who's your favourite local tattoo artist? I don’t have a favourite artist yet... I haven’t had anything done in Vancouver, but will soon.

      What's next on your ink list?  I definitely plan to finish up my sleeve. I'm also going to have a tattoo done on my left finger to help balance out the one on right one. My kids have tiny drawings of their childhood stuffies going on my the back of my ankle, too.

      Have some ink you'd like to share? Contact Janet McDonald at ink@straight.com.