Ocala, FL

Naomi Shanti, Owner of Ocala’s Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art, Checks in about Healing and Transformation

Amanda Clark-Rudolph

Ocala resident, Naomi Shanti has created art for over 13 years and tattooed for almost four. Read on to learn her inspiring entrepreneurial story involving art, ink, and community endeavors.

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Naomi Shanti cuddles her dog in front of her prints.Photo by Kalie Drake of Drake Photography

I first met Naomi Shanti when she was teaching art at The Cornerstone School in Ocala, FL. Since then she has switched gears and started her own tattooing/art studio called Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art.

I caught up with Naomi online for a Q and A and later in person at Ocala’s Appleton Museum, where she hosts a preschool art class every other month.

An inspiring entrepreneur, mom, and community advocate, Naomi shared her inspiring tale about how Alchemy Tattoo came to be, unique tattooing memories, and more.

Owner of Ocala’s Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art, Naomi Shanti, Checks In About Healing and Transformation

Q. How did Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art come to be?

A. Alchemy opened in December of 2019. However, the dream of having my own business and tattoo studio began years ago. It all started when my brother Henry passed away suddenly from a tragic car accident in 2008. During this time, I wasn't an artist but a hairstylist and makeup artist.

As a teenager, I watched my brother learn to tattoo, develop his skill, and start his own tattoo shop -- Hardcore Tattoo in Cedar Rapids.

When I look back, I realize seeds were planted during those formative years. I was in awe of all Henry created.

I also had some artist friends I would watch while wishing I could draw like them. But I remember vividly how excited I was to get into the tattoo studio to get tattooed myself.

Q. What are your most favorite tattoo memories?

A. One of my favorite memories was when I was 18, and I was staying with my brother for a week in Iowa.

I got to go to work with him at his tattoo studio. I got tattooed and watched him tattoo, and I was in love. I loved being fully immersed in his world. I will never forget that week and how happy it made me.

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Naomi tattooing.Photo by Dez Smith: LUV Photography.

Q. Describe your journey from hair styling to art

A. My brother’s death brought a lot of sadness and deep grief. I was a young mom, wife, and depressed. I needed to do something, so through the grief and pain, I decided to pick up a pencil and draw. I hope to feel connected to my brother again.

So, I kept drawing, painting, trying, and with my family's encouragement, I kept creating more art.

What was truly remarkable is I began to heal and feel whole again through the process of creating art.

At some point along this healing journey, I “retired” from hair and makeup, went back to school, earned my art degree, showed my paintings in galleries across the U.S., taught art to kiddos, moved a few times, and then in 2017 a door opened and I began my journey into tattooing.

Finally after a long journey of my own transformation, growth, and healing; in 2019, I knew it was time to go out on my own and open Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art.

Q. What is Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art’s mission?

A. “Alchemy” is defined as a seemingly magical process of transformation and creation. This is where the name came from.

The art of creating through art and tattooing is truly a magical process. I wanted to create a safe space to receive art and healing, as well experience transformation, whether it be spiritual, emotional, and/or physical, not only on the outside but also within!

Q. What is the most unique tattoo you’ve even given and why?

A. Well, I feel like each tattoo is unique and special, no matter how simple or complicated. It is actually the people and the story behind the piece that truly give life to what I do.

Some of my favorite tattoos, however, have been of birds and portraits. I feel a strong connection to birds and the meanings that embody them.

I am currently working on a series of tattoos called the Symbolic Bird Project: These tattoos are my own designs and include birds, plants, and other elements that are in themselves symbolic, which then become one strong meaningful piece.

I am continually inspired by nature and people.

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Nourish: One of Naomi's watercolors and mixed media on woodPhoto submitted by Naomi Ballard

Q. How is Alchemy involved in the community?

A. Alchemy loves to be involved in the community. Currently, we are gearing up for the holidays and have two special events coming up: First, we will be holding a holiday art supply shoebox drive, where we will be collecting unopened art supplies in shoeboxes to support a local Elementary school and its art program here in Ocala, FL.

Second, We believe that art education is so important for our youth and their whole spiritual being. With that in mind, we are hosting an Alchemist Art Workshop where three high school students will have the opportunity to attend a full-day art workshop here at the tattoo studio.

The workshop itself is free and is intended to give a student who wouldn’t normally have access to art education, the opportunity to learn and create alongside working professional artists.

There is more information on both community events on our website.

Q. What are your hobbies outside of tattooing?

A. I feel like my profession is also my hobby. I tend to draw or paint every day. But when I am not in the tattoo or art studio, I love kayaking the springs that are in and around Ocala.

My favorite being Silver Springs. I try to kayak or feel close to the springs as much as possible. The water is peaceful, the trees, birds, and other wildlife offer a lot of rest as well as inspiration.

Q. How does Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art differ from other local businesses?

A. Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art is different in that we are a private tattoo studio, which means we are strictly appointment only.

This offers us the opportunity to focus on each client's individual needs, creatively, spiritually, emotionally and/or physically.

The private studio is a space full of peace and healing if you need it. Deciding to commit to a tattoo is a big deal. This is something that you will wear for the rest of your life.

The experience you have while receiving the tattoo will also remain with you for as long as the tattoo. It is just as important as the art that you wear on your body.

The experience a person has at Alchemy is what makes this studio different.

What is also unique and different about our studio is we also offer other healing services -- such as massage therapy, astrology, and tarot readings.

Starting in the fall we will also host special events that will include other avenues of healing/transformation such as yoga and meditation.

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Self Portrait, screen print on woodPhoto submitted by Naomi Ballard

Q. What’s your favorite thing about tattooing?

A. One of the magical things about being able to tattoo is watching how art truly heals when it is needed.

It is an honor to sit with someone, share my art with them as they share their story with me.

Sometimes the tattoo sessions are light-hearted, but during other sessions, I have cried with my client, laughed in pure joy with them, and felt the overwhelming sense of empowerment when seeing the body's beautiful transformation once the tattoo is complete.

There is no feeling that can compare to that connection, healing, and transformation.

Q. Where would you like to see Alchemy Tattoo and Fine Art in the future?

A. Currently Alchemy is serving Ocala and the Central Florida area. I would love Alchemy to reach people outside of Florida, who would love to visit and experience what Alchemy is all about, get tattooed, for artists to come and tattoo as a guest artist, paint and create, or share their healing services.

I have a space in the studio set up specifically for this purpose. I personally would love to travel and visit other tattoo studios to tattoo and connect with other artists. I believe that sharing and connection are what will ultimately make me a better artist for myself and my current and future clients.

Q. How/Where can our readers find you?

A. Readers can find me on Instagram, Facebook, or on our website.

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Hi, I'm Amanda - a freelancing mama who writes about family, travel, holidays, and more! In addition to freelancing it up, I'm a Content Coordinator for neighborhood magazines. My favorite pastimes: Writing, slurping lattes, and playing freeze tag with my two sons.

Ocala, FL
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