Today, the Dallas, Texas, slinger is three years deep in the game and has been able to set up her own shop, Rebel Muse, in Lewisville, Texas. Cook takes a unique approach to her portrait and realism work, making sure to add a little extra pizzazz to every piece, which not only leaves the client more than satisfied, but also sets her apart from the rest of the portrait and realism tattoo artists in the game.
REBEL INK: When you first entered the field, did you go the apprenticeship route?
Liz Cook: I did do a formal apprenticeship in 2009.
Now that you own your own shop, is it difficult balancing your roles as an artist and business owner?
Oh, yeah. I always am torn between wanting to design, paint, and tattoo and organize, network, and promote. I love all of it, but it sure never stops. Not a bad problem to have, though.
Your portrait work is awesome! Did you always intend on mastering that style of tattooing, or was it something that you sort of fell into?
The first time I saw a portrait, I knew I could do it with enough practice, so it was always the initial goal. The art I did before tattoo was largely portraits and realism, so it was a very natural progression.
If you could choose a different style of tattooing to be known for, what style would that be?
[Laughs.] Not lettering. I can't spell and I'm definitely a bad typewriter. If I could just wake up one day and be known for a different style, I guess it would be something like creepy, new school freehand stuff, similar to what Tommy Lee or Tom Strom do.
Tattooing a picture of someone is pretty straightforward, but on most of your pieces, I see that you tend to add some flair to the pieces to make them stand out. Is this something that is encouraged by your clients?
I know some people at times get a bit squeamish about pushing the envelope on the tattoo they're about to get. I think most people don't really understand to what extent you can push the portraits, and doing the bit of extra is just what I'm gonna do anyway. I never had anyone look at the tattoo after and say, "Oh, you made that better than I wanted," like it was a bad thing. Serious collectors come to me because they know they don't have to ask; it's gonna happen because that's the best that I can do and I won't do less.
This next question is for the fellas, and some ladies, too. Are you single, married? Any kiddies?
I'm married, three years, no kiddies yet. One day. Right now, the studio and work is the baby.
I've had tattoo artists tell me that it is extremely difficult for them to maintain a romantic relationship at times. What are your thoughts on this?
It's hard for sure, but my husband is my best friend and business partner and we are as much of a working team as a romantic thing. If we weren't working together, it'd be much harder to maintain, but we do almost everything together and really enjoy balancing all of it.
Do you go out on the road tattooing, or is it easier to find you at your shop?
It's a mix of both. I regularly do conventions but I love tattooing from the comforts of my own studio, where everything is set up just right and I don't really have to think about it.
How can our readers go about making an appointment with you?
Best way is to hit me up on my website. Sometimes, due to the high volume of emails, it may take a couple of weeks before I can thoroughly respond, but I do make my best efforts to reply to every email, and I truly appreciate everyone's patience when trying to set up an appointment.
Any advice for up-and-coming tattoo artists?
Stay true to yourself, practice like there is no tomorrow, and be receptive to all information and advice, whether it's good or bad at the time.
Rebel Muse Tattoo Studio
570 S. Edmonds Lane #101
Lewisville, TX 75067
Portrait photos by Ernie Bustamante
Article by Mannie Pendexter