Our latest Painted: Inside the Bucket spotlights Mary Johnson, a visual and tattoo artist, lover of all things spooky, and Paintbucket’s very own manager extraordinaire. Whether she’s coordinating your next PB appointment, celebrating Halloween year-round, or creating a stunning black and grey portrait inspired by classic Hollywood Horror, Mary is a true unicorn and jack of all trades. Read on to learn about what inspires her artistry, her designs for our newest collection: Witch Better Have My Mani, and her advice for those who wear both creative and professional hats.

Mary Johnson Nail Artist Paintbucket Tattoo

When did you become interested in making art, and specifically tattooing? 
I've always been an "artist”, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago when I really honed in on my craft and decided to pursue tattooing. I was actually more of a cartoon artist and now my passion is black and grey portraits. With tattooing, I always loved it and got my first tattoo when I was 18. I had managed high end tattoo shops for years but never wanted to actually become a tattoo artist until 3 years ago when I really started developing my style. 

How would you describe your personal style and your tattoo style? 
My personal style could be described as vintage, spooky, and unique. Think a little rocker chic, fully tattooed in horror. I start decorating my apartment for Halloween on September 1st
My tattoo style would be black and grey realism, with black and simple, spooky, line work. With my work, I’m really inspired by horror and Halloween - LOL -- it's so cliche but I love it. It’s always been a genre that has inspired me. I especially love working on classic horror movie stars --the photos from that era have the best contrast. My favorite person to draw is Elsa Lanchester as the Bride of Frankenstein. 

Bride of Frankenstein tattoo artist interview


What is your favorite tattoo you’ve ever done?
A Dracula portrait on my husband. 

dracula tattoo horror tattoo nail salon williamsburg

What artists have been your biggest influences or personal favorites? 
My favorite tattoo artist is Bob Tyrell because he didn't start tattooing until 34 (I am 32), and he’s famous now for his black and grey portrait tattoos. There are also so many badass female tattoo artists right now and that is super inspiring to me. The women are taking over!

My favorite painter right now is Greg Simkins- his pop surrealism is insane and reminds me of the old masters. My favorite master painters are Peter Paul Rubens and Carvaggio.

Okay, so you’re an amazing artist and an amazing manager at Paintbucket…how do you do opposite things so well? 
I honestly love being able to use both sides of my brain and not only be able to do art. I think it's important to be able to do both and I am so glad that I can. I’ve always felt it was a little odd for people to zero in on one thing. Being a manager has really helped with my artistic side in so many ways. I believe the two can tag team if you allow them to. 

Why is Halloween your favorite holiday?
You must have loved working on
Witch Better Have My Mani.
I've always loved Halloween ever since I was a child and now it is just a part of me! It's just so much fun, it's a lifestyle for sure. I watch horror all year round. And in October, I’m really annoying actually, because I can’t watch anything that’s not Halloween. With TV shows, only Halloween episodes. I’ve been this way since I was 6. So, of course I was so excited when Kristin asked me to help design a collection (especially a collection so close to my personal brand)- it feels so good to be a part of a business that supports women and their interests!


witch better have my mani halloween nails spooky nail art

What is the most rewarding part about being a manager at Paintbucket and an artist?
At Paintbucket, it’s being able to help such a successful and inspiring boss babe grow her business. Kristin inspires me so much. Also, the team and staff here is just the best.  It’s super inspiring to be around such inspiring women. As an artist, it’s being able to create something beautiful for someone. 

old hollywood tattoo portrait art

What advice would you give to an aspiring creative/business professional?Never give up. And trust yourself. Really go for it. Also, take one day a week, and try not to do anything. It’s important to take time for yourself. Business professionals and creatives need to take time to shut their minds off and not worry about coordinating something or creating something.

Artist relaxing how to find balance

Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years? 
I want to be a successful tattoo artist while helping Kristin expand her empire - I would love to be a staple in designing these collections and more with her. A big thing for me is gratitude for where I’m at. I love doing what I do. I want to always be able to grow, develop my style and thrive -- while continuing to love creating art. 

Want more Mary? Follow @missvampira on Instagram for incredible tattoos and spooky vibes year round.