Marge Middendorp, or “Magic Marge,” as she’s known, has been a tattoo artist for more than thirty years. Perpetually creating custom artwork for clients, Marge works out of the iconic all-female shop in the Grand Avenue Arts District, Lady Luck Tattoo. You might have to book an appointment two months in advance to have the privilege of her artwork on your body, but it’s worth it.
WOD: When did you first become interested in tattoo art? What inspired you to start creating your own tattoo art?
MM: I start by saying I’ve always been an artist and always wanted to stay in that field somehow but really wasn’t sure how I could accomplish that. I met a man when I was 18 who rode motorcycles and had a few tattoos. I had met other people that had tattoos but really didn’t give it too much thought. So for one of our first “dates” he asked me if I wanted to go with him to an appointment. Absolutely, I thought! I had never been to a tattoo shop and expected to meet more people like him, big burly bikers. We’re standing in the lobby waiting for his appointment and he says to me “there’s my artist now.” I turned around, and instead of a big burly biker, I saw a rather petite woman who was stunningly beautiful! She was an Italian New Yorker, sassy and friendly, and immediately I thought “damn I want to be her!”
WOD: What do you love most about your craft?
MM: This is a tough question. Of course I’m able to create every day and make money at it. For this I’m truly grateful! I meet so many interesting people. I’ve never been great at a 9 to 5 schedule, so this career path fit nicely.
WOD: What is your favorite piece that you have done so far?
MM: This is nearly impossible to answer! I’ve tattooed most of my children, so I would have to say that anything I’ve done for them is the most important.
WOD: How does your love for art translate into your everyday life?
MM: My everyday life consists of creating art to turn into tattoos upon people’s requests. I get requests for all kinds of different styles and ideas. Some of these ideas have a cultural aspect, a belief aspect, storytelling, or simply ornamentation I may not be familiar with, so I start by researching these ideas. I am always learning! And then I start creating a drawing for them. This is what I live and breathe every day.
WOD: What inspires you to continue creating?
MM: Well, aside from my clients and my career, I, like so many artists, am inspired constantly by life around me. To give you an example, I just watched a movie the other night about Billie Holiday and decided I would really love to do a painting of Billie.
WOD: What kind of impact do you think your work generates?
MM: I couldn’t say what kind of impact I’ve had. I can tell you that I hope I have brought some joy, creativity, beauty, and healing to my clients.
WOD: How do you think living in Phoenix or Arizona in general has influenced you as an artist?
MM: One of my recent back pieces is the celebration of desert living including many of the plants and creatures under one of our amazing sunsets. We have a fabulous culture here in Arizona and the environment that is ever changing beauty.
WOD: How have you stayed involved in the arts of the community during COVID?
MM: It’s been a challenge for sure. Personally, I’m extremely busy creating for my clients. But I will say that our shop, Lady Luck Tattoo, is right in the heart of a wonderful arts community on Grand Ave. near downtown Phoenix, and there is [still] art being created and shown all around us every day.