A woman with tattooed arms holding a mug and smiling in her tattoo shop.

The Tattoo Series: Meet April Nicole

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What is the Tattoo Series? 

This highly caffeinated collaboration shows our undying love of tattoos and the culture that surrounds them. Nine supremely talented tattoo artists from across the country share their flashes of genius—all inspired by coffee—the bold elixir of life. The art-inspired merch directly supported the local artists who designed them. 

Meet the Artist: April Nicole

Hailing from Indianapolis, April Nicole created a bold tattoo design that embraces the beauty of spring—April showers bring may flowers (we hope). The mug and tee feature a skeleton drinking coffee with an umbrella warding off the rain.  

April Stead, a tattoo artist sipping coffee out of a mug she designed.

Unfiltered Q&A with April Nicole

1. Are you a coffee drinker? If so, what’s your favorite roast, and how do you take your coffee?

I am indeed a coffee drinker. I tend to sway toward espressos and lattes. I am pretty adventurous with my coffee intake, and I love hitting up local spots and trying new concoctions. My go-to right now is either a hazelnut oat milk latte or a dirty chai tea latte.  

2. Do you have a favorite coffee shop in  your town?

I am loving Landlocked Baking Co. They’re located conveniently next door to the shop and always have great latte specials. They just released a Miso Caramel latte and a Rosemary Maple latte! Both incredible.  

3. What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? Did you always know it was your calling?

I’ve always been an artist, but I didn’t know I wanted to pursue tattooing until I was already doing it. I went to art school in New York City with aspirations to someday join the Jim Henson Creature Shop. I got an apprenticeship at a local shop thinking it would be a “fun job” to pass time on my way to become a muppeteer.  

Tattoo artist April Stead drawing a design on her ipad with a coffee mug in hand.

4. What was your initial exposure to the tattoo world, and when did you first add your own piece of ink to your skin? 

My family members are all pretty heavily tattooed (more so now that I do them), so I knew I’d get mine eventually! I got my first tattoo soon after my 18th birthday. I got a traditional flower on my ankle from a tattooer named Sunday at Lark Tattoo in Westbury, New York. I did not think I would eventually be almost completely covered, nor did I think I’d do them at that point.  

5. How long have you been tattooing?

I started my apprenticeship in 2009 when I was 22. 

6. How many tattoos do you have?

I think it’s easier to count the tattoos that I don’t have at this point.  

7. What inspires your work? 

Other artists definitely inspire me, my coworkers and colleagues, as well as my life experiences. I love traveling, visiting temples and museums. Seeing art from every century, seeing where we’ve gone and where we’re going in art as humans is fascinating to me.  

8. What does the process behind your tattoos entail?

I suppose it depends on the tattoo. Some require a little bit more research than others, especially when it comes to the cartoon characters that I tattoo. I always like to research a bit of what I’m doing (if I'm not already familiar with it) so I can connect with the client. I’m doing a tattoo of a Kitsune this week, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on Kitsune and Yokai. It’s been fun! 

Tattoo artist April Stead drinking coffee in her tattoo shop.

9. What do you like to tattoo, and what would you like to do more of?

I love to tattoo nostalgic characters. Cartoon characters or actors or characters from the '80s are my favorite. I love to be able to talk to the client about what they mean to them, plus they’re just plain fun to tattoo. 

10. What does a typical day at the shop look like for you?

I'm fortunate enough to be able to work with three of my best friends. We usually start the day having breakfast and drinking coffee and joking around. There’s a lot of '90s comedy movie quotes being thrown back-and-forth and making fun of each other all day. I also work with three very talented artists, so it’s wonderful being surrounded by people who inspire me so much. 

11. What do you like to do outside of the shop?

I love to watch movies. I’m a big fan of horror, and since most of my time outside of the shop is spent drawing, those are two things I can do simultaneously. I also love to eat. I love board games. If I can somehow incorporate watching a horror movie, playing a board game and eating with my friends, it’s a good day.  

12. What’s your biggest pet peeve? Personally and in the shop.

I’d say my biggest pet peeve is when someone doesn’t trust me. Most of my clients are wonderful and are familiar with my work before they make an appointment with me, but occasionally I have someone that comes in who just doesn’t trust what I’m doing, and it makes me feel inadequate or not worthy of their time. Trust your artists, people!

13. What’s the strangest tattoo you’ve ever done?

I tattooed a Pepsi can with a happy face, arms and legs, and it said “chocolate juice” above it. She got it as a tribute to her baby boy. She was hysterical. 

Tattoo artist April stead pouring coffee into a mug.

14. What is your favorite thing about being a tattoo artist?

Being able to make your own schedule and travel and meet new people every day is pretty sweet. But honestly, my favorite thing about being a tattoo artist is the tattoos themselves. I love making art for a living.  

15. What is the tattoo scene like in your area?

The tattoo scene in Indianapolis is surprisingly really wonderful. It’s really easy for me to send clients to different shops in town for any style of tattooing someone might be looking for. Chances are if we can’t do it, someone within 15 minutes can and will do a wonderful job. 

16. What moment in your career are you the most proud of?

That’s hard to say. I don’t know if I can pinpoint one specific moment that I am the most proud of, but the past five years have been absolutely fantastic. I’ve met so many awesome people and connected with so many wonderful artists. I’ve traveled and gotten tattooed abroad, I was guest spotted at many different shops around the country, I attended dozens of tattoo conventions, and I know that it’s only going to get better from here. I know my grandma‘s real proud of me, and what more could you ask for?  

Drink of Choice: Espressos and lattes 

Follow April on Instagram: @aprilnicoletattoos