Artist Interviews 2021
By Laura Siebold
All photos: Courtesy of the artist.
Justine Serebrin is an intuitive artist, founder of the tattoo studio
Earth Altar Studio and creator of The
Art School for Intuitive Visionary Creatives. Justine creates intuitive art by consulting her own intuition, allowing herself to be led by her visions and
emotions. For the artist, it is important to source both from her personal energy sources and from those of her clients during the tattoo art process.
Justine has been extending her meaningful work beyond her studio; by partnering with the charity “Survivor’s Ink” in the past, she helped survivors of human
trafficking and sexual exploitation to deal with the scars of their past. In her interview, Justine shares some insights about learning with and from the students
in her intuitive art school program, as well as some exciting new projects she has been working on.
You are an intuitive artist, tattoo artist, entrepreneur and founder and spiritual guide for “The IAMCODE”, an art school for intuitive visionary creatives. How and when did you first get into contact with art? Was there a special moment or incident which made you dedicate your career to art?
Art has always been a part of my life. My mom knew she would have a daughter who would be an artist and bought an easel for me almost a decade before I was born! She’s a powerful creator for sure! :) I remember being in kindergarten and painting non-stop, you really couldn’t get me out of the art room. I think it was at that moment that I knew something really special was happening to me when I painted. I felt powerful, I felt free, and that no one could stop me, hold me back, or stifle my creativity. It was my life force energy and I had just accessed it! This grew over the years and became an identity for me. It made me feel connected to my spirit, to God, and to the planet. It healed me when I was fearful, anxious, and depressed and gave me a voice when I didn’t have one verbally. Art is and always has been how I breathe.
What stands behind the concept of intuitive art? How can we imagine this concept? Can you share a technique?
Intuitive art to me is a way of tuning into your own spirit and letting that be communicated through your body and into tangible form thus creating “art” from this natural, soul-inspired flow state. When I was a kid and didn’t know what to paint, my mom guided me to listen to the radio and paint what I felt from the songs that came on. That was my first conscious connection to creating art from the unseen while also connecting with my own emotion, inspired by the music.
How much does (intuitive) energy influence the outcome of your art?
Painting and tattooing from this deep connection to emotion, feeling and the unseen is the only way I create. When I try to do something more realistic with traditional reference, I feel blocked creatively, stuck and stifled, absolutely not myself, and the work looks like crap. The beauty comes back when I let go and connect back to my emotion and soul.
Which is more fulfilling – your own journey and work as an intuitive artist or helping other artists on their path to becoming intuitive artists?
Oh wow, the two really compliment each other and I wouldn’t be able to help others if I didn’t do the work myself. Both are equally fulfilling each other, inspiring each other. My students make me a better artist and the more I grow as an artist I get to help them grow to new levels. My life is so rewarding, I’m very lucky, and yet I want to also acknowledge that I’ve worked my ass off to have this kind of freedom in my life and creativity. I am stubborn and defiant and working for the man, or even just having a boss made me feel depressed and angry, in some ways I don’t know that I really had a choice. It was grow and make it work as an artist or die. Now, having my own team, I am so honored to be a “boss” to have a team and to see my team thriving and happy is one of my greatest joys. It is my mission to make sure that everyone is placed in a position that makes them feel free, powerful, and fully expressed.
Have there ever been drawbacks in your career? Have you ever found yourself stuck as an artist? If yes, how did you manage to reignite your passion and inspiration?
Yes, I’ve definitely felt stuck and “blocked” creatively. It is always a signal that I get to reinvent myself. I get to self-district who I thought I was, as a human and an artist. I need to let a part of my old self die, (again, grow or die) and this creates opportunity to renew myself. The letting go of the old self can be the hardest part but that’s what keeps me stuck, my own rigidity and “box”/rule following. Just tear it up and recreate yourself, that is so much more exciting and gosh, isn’t that our role as artists, to create fresh culture, to inspire and always be on our own edge? I think it is.
Who or what inspired your decision to found a tattoo studio and what makes Earth Altar Studio (https://www.earthaltarstudio.com/) different from other tattoo studios?
I had an extraordinary experience meditating in my early 20’s, I had my first couple of visions, and I saw myself tattooing in a way that was healing, transformational, and peaceful, it was my future self, creating tattoos and changing lives. The visions expanded and I saw myself having my own shop, an all female shop, super inclusive and safe for everyone to truly express themselves. So, I followed the visions as if they were my bible, or messages from God. Everything has manifested in divine timing. Some visions manifested into tangible for quickly and some took a decade, all totally worth it. So, go meditate, who knows, what you’ll discover!
In your opinion - how is body art different than paintings on artificial surfaces?
The main difference is the human’s energy I get to collaborate with when I do tattoos. Otherwise, I’m tuning into my own energy source and creating from that place. Both feel really important. Sometimes, I really need to be around people and the work/designs that comes through when tattooing are so fresh and new to me, which is exciting because I know I couldn’t have made them without the other person’s soul/energy contributing to it.
In the past, you partnered with the charity “Survivor’s Ink”, an organization that helps survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation to rediscover freedom and healing by covering scars, markings, and brandings of a violent and abusive past with new tattoos. How did you initially learn about this project? How was it like working with the survivors? Was this process of a cover-up any different from a regular tattoo project?
This has been one of the most life changing and healing things I have ever had the honor of doing in my entire life. These women are warriors like you wouldn’t believe! They are the most vibrant, happy, grateful souls I have EVER met! The organization reached out to me years ago with a few women who needed my help and I dove right in. I have no idea what to expect but these women became my friends. I got to transform several tattoos on their bodies and to the best of my ability change the meaning and experience of getting tattoos for themselves. (This brings me to tears to my eyes) Witnessing this transformation in them, knowing that they could inhabit their bodies/own their bodies again, maybe for the first time gave me a purpose that I will treasure forever.
We love learning about future projects. What are you currently working on?
I have 2 new existing projects that will be launched in the fall of 2021! In September I have a clothing collection that I’ve designed for SHEIN X. I learned how to design my own patterns and designs and I cannot wait to share this with the world. The collection is called ORACLE. The second project is a new oracle card deck called Sacred Sea Oracle which is a deck I’ve written and designed. Rockpool Publishing will launch/release this deck in November of this year! It’s been quite a labor of love and over a year in the making. I just cannot wait to hold this new deck in my hands!
Has any of your students in “The IAMCODE” program specifically stood out to you since you started the project? Is there a specific artist (inside and/or outside your school) you would like to collaborate with in the future and why?
Honestly, all of the student’s work has been BLOWING me away!!! I am in awe of each one of them every single day! I highly recommend checking out our Instagram @theiamcode, so you can see some of their recent work. Some are creating multiple oracle card decks and several have new series of sacred collections of art being launched. It’s definitely powerful and inspiring to see what they are creating every day!
I am in love with Sean Yoro’s work @the_hula, he has designed a way of painting underwater that I have been dreaming about doing for years but haven’t had the guts to “dive” fully into yet, haha pun intended! :) His work is powerful and his realism is insane. I have dreams of us collaborating underwater and on murals to make a bigger impact and share a louder message about ocean conservation and the urgency around changing our societies’ ways of living into more sustainable practices. I also think his realism and my abstract dreamscapes would complement each other really well.