Ashley McCann | Hello RVA
RICHMOND RESIDENT, PIERCER AND ARTIST.
Hello RVA is finally getting a face-lift. And what better way to start anew and represent Richmond art culture than with this colorful personality? Ashley is currently an apprenticing piercer with River City Tattoo. She is also a talented painter, writer, avid trinket collector and ocassional model. Keep reading to learn more!
So, you’re a piercer at River City Tattoo! Tell me a little bit about that.
I’ve been piercing for a little over a year now. It’s cool, but I have to apprentice for a year. That kinda sucks because when you’re doing your apprentice hours, you don’t get paid. So… #struggle. But, it’s a lot better now. It’s kind of a weird scene because a lot of it is popularity… but that’s just like everything else. You just have to make a name for yourself. So, I’m trying to get in there!
Do you have any other hobbies or side gigs that you’re into right now?
Not really. I was writing for mugglenet - a Harry Potter fan site. I took a little bit of a break since I started apprenticing because it was just… a lot. But after I take my test, I’m going to try to get back in there. I was on the creative writing team and we would write silly articles and stuff like that.
How long have you lived in Richmond and what brought you here?
Oh God. So, general area of Richmond, my whole life. But the city, it’s been eight years. I moved here when I started at VCU. [I majored in] Religious studies, though it took me a really long time to decide what I wanted to do. At first I thought business… but I took a business class and was like, “noooo way.” It was bad.
Tell me about some of your favorite haunts in the city and what do you like to do in your free time?
I mainly go to Galaxy Diner. It’s been a lot worse since I moved here because it’s a block away. So, me and my roommate used to go a lot and then she got a job in the kitchen, so I’ll go hang out at the bar and just talk while she’s working. Otherwise, I don’t honestly do that much. I go to the Byrd sometimes, especially when they were playing stuff like Groundhogs Day. I just love that shit.
Why or how did you get into your current profession?
I’ve been into body modification since Middle School, but I never thought I could actually pierce someone. It’s just a weird thing to think about. But then, I saw that River City [Tattoo] put something on their facebook about needing an apprentice so I was like, “why the hell not.”
Is this something you want to turn into a career?
Definitely a career. You do an apprenticeship because they want to know that people will put the commitment in. So, definitely not going to waste all that time and effort. With religious studies, the only thing I would ever want to be otherwise is a professor. But I’m not good with talking in front of a large group of people, and you have to be super professional. I couldn’t look like this being a professor. A lot of what I have done in my life job-wise, I always base around whether I can have colored hair. It’s just who I am. I started dying my hair 11 years ago continuously, so everything’s been around [that] or piercings. So, being a piercer is perfect.
Tell me about what inspires you and how do you get your motivation?
What is motivation? ... I like nature, but super colorful. Stuff that seems like it would be unnatural because of how it looks but … is natural? I don’t know, it’s weird to put into words. I don’t paint very often, but when I get in the mood or when I feel a [certain] emotion coming, I’ll try to put that into a painting. People give me inspiration, but I don’t like basing stuff off of people because they’re finicky.
So, kind of spontaneous inspiration!
Pretty much. That’s kind of how I live my life anyway.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to break into your profession?
Don’t be afraid to just do it. I kind of hate myself for wasting six years in college. Even though I got a lot out of it and made friends ([My roommate] was the first friend I made in college.) I would be far better off if I had just done [piercing], you know? Don’t necessarily rush into it - make sure that's what you want to do - but don’t be afraid to do it.