March 8, 2013
Springfield, Ore. –
Lucky patterned her back with an albino peacock that stretches down from her shoulder to her hip. “I was a little nervous at first because it was my first tattoo, but it made it easier that it was my dad doing it and I trusted him,” Miss Fortune says. “I think he was more nervous than me because he didn’t want to cause me any pain! We listened to mellow music and I read a book to distract me.”
April Slater chose the pen name—or needle name—Miss Fortune because her friends wanted her to have a lucky nickname, like her dad’s. “My dad had passed away, and I didn’t feel like it was right to take his name in that way,” she says. “So Miss Fortune was sort of a clever twist.”
Miss Fortune, now the owner of Memento Ink in Springfield, Oregon, got her first ink from her father Lucky, a tattoo artist who worked in San Jose during the 70s. She was 30 years old. “He lived out of town and I wasn’t about to get tattooed by anyone else,” she says.
According to Miss Fortune, the first time is always the most intimidating—for many of the uninked, the fear of pain holds them back. “I think getting scratched by a cat is worse,” she says. “Or if you’ve ever gone out and worn an uncomfortable pair of shoes all night long because they looked hot, that’s way worse than getting a tattoo.”
Regardless of her dad’s career, Miss Fortune didn’t start inking early. “I was sort of familiar with it, but it just never crossed my mind that a girl could do that,” she says. “I always knew I was going to grow up and be an artist, but that [tattooing] didn’t ever come up as an option.”
She began her art career as a graphic designer for Pacific Headwear, an embroidery company. Soon, striving for creative freedom brought her to Paintworks Design in Eugene, Oregon. She picked up freelance jobs on the side, designing print ads and business cards for local tattoo parlors. “Once I discovered that, I felt like I belonged in tattooing,” she says. “I left that job and enrolled in tattoo school.”
As an intern, the first tattoo Miss Fortune ever inked was on the left calf of Norman Slater, her husband and the father of their two preteen daughters, Gwynneth and Rhiannon. “I wear [her work] everywhere I go!” boasts Slater, “She’s totally awesome.”
To Miss Fortune, one of the most valuable pieces of her work is the tattooing process itself. “I really enjoy the experience, I really enjoy the time I spend with the client, I really enjoy what it means to them,” she says. “What happens during the tattoo…is just as important as the tattoo itself. It’s the beginning of something that lasts forever, and so it better start out good, you know.”
Her own tattoos swirl across her skin from black to red in an endless dance. Her full, deep cherry hair is half-up, loose curls dangling down her neck to frame her neat brown eyes and classic red lips. She so frequently receives compliments on the shade that she is considering carrying it. “Hmm, maybe I should buy stock in it,” she says. “We’ll call it Miss Fortune Red.” The idea curls the corners of her signature pout into a smile.
She doesn’t know how many time she’s gone under the needle herself. “I’ve got a chest piece, I’ve got a bunch on my back, and my legs are covered pretty much from the knee down,” she says. “I don’t count them anymore, I think of it as one big tattoo that’s not finished yet.”
She loves the intimate process of working together with clients to create a piece of artwork. “And you want that to be meaningful, you want that to be special, you want that meaningful relationship,” she says. “You’re sharing the rest of somebody’s life with them.”