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In the male dominated industry of tattooing, it is a refreshing change to meet Steph Modified. Born and raised in New York City, the professional tattoo artist’s personal style bears a likeness to Tank Girl. When it comes to her adopted last name, “Modified,” she embraces the meaning full on. Her passion for all forms of body modification go beyond ink and include participating in Body Suspension; where your body hangs from hooks pierced through your skin. While this may frighten some, Steph’s fearless nature finds it empowering. It’s this love for the body mod culture and love for what you are capable of doing with your own skin that makes her such a well rounded tattoo artist.
Steph Modified has been working on her craft since she was 16 years old. While other teenage girls were preoccupied with boys, Steph was more fascinated with the world of ink and busy dreaming of ways to create art on people. The idea that you can give someone a beautiful piece of art work they will love and cherish for the rest of their life fueled her passion to learn how to tattoo.
Steph soon found herself visiting local tattoo shops after school, seeking ways to gain an apprenticeship. This proved harder than she thought, and she often found that being a young woman would get her snickers and jokes from the male tattoo artists. She would hear them talking behind her back, saying that women “just can’t tattoo as well.” And when she did score gigs working at tattoo shops, she’d be surrounded by male artists who would deliberately choose to not like her. Why? It would simply come down to the fact that she is a woman with more skills and that was threatening to them.
Over the next few years, she learned as much as she could from a few teachers but quickly realized she was more motivated in learning then they were in teaching. While Steph’s strikingly beautiful exotic looks and amazing ink may have been too much of a focus for her teachers, it was the art on her own body that landed her a career as a tattoo model. She says, “My most meaningful tattoo is my chest piece which is a rotting heart stitched with bat wings. I have been through so much in my life. People who seemed as if they were helping me, stabbed me. No matter how much my heart will break or is ripped apart, it still stays together and remains strong.” It wasn’t until she met her boyfriend, tattoo artist, Justin Borrero, she learned more about the art of tattooing and how to enjoy what she has always loved to do.
With the goal of establishing their own tattoo business, Steph and Justin have moved from NYC to Orlando, Florida, where they are currently thriving under their joint project, Modified Tattoo Gallery. Steph’s goal as an artist is to put beautiful artwork on people that they will love forever. Being a diverse artist has given her the ability to master a wide array of styles from traditional, neo-traditional, to color tattoos. Steph Modified’s dedication to her craft is evident in the quality of her work. You can see from the images below that she not only loves what she does, but she loves who she is. That’s something we can all be inspired by.