Motif’s 2024 RI Tattoo Awards: Recap and interviews with the winners

On a sunny April evening, the local New England tattoo community, as well as a Lycra-clad crew of runners, flocked to Narragansett Brewery in Providence, across from India Point Park. The former were there for Motif’s 2024 RI Tattoo Awards; the latter, for Gansett’s weekly running club. By the end of the night, participants from both camps went home with fresh, free “Hi Neighbor!” tattoos wrapped in cellophane, courtesy of F.I.N.A.O. Ink Tattoo Company. For those seeking a more temporary adornment, Henna by Heather was inking free henna designs.


Winning tattoo artists went home with trophies, while still images of all nominated artworks were displayed and admired around the brewery. The hosts of the evening — Steven Tefft of “Ink Masters” fame and 12 Tattoos studio and Belle Gunz (aka Sam Bryan) of Third House Events and Inspiria PVD — guided the crowd through the evening with style. Presenters included past “Ink Masters” contestant LT Duarte of OWTA Tattoo and Kat Devaney of Renaissance Tattoo Studio. Speed drawing and an art wall took place. PVD Drum Troupe was in the house, leading a parade of contestants through the brewery as they competed in a tattoo modeling contest. From the tattoo guns brandishing free ink, to the winners, the night was totally buzzing.


Luis Sanchez, Cloud 9 Tattoo Company

Black and gray with just a little pop of color is one of Luis Sanchez’ favorite genres to work in. His winning piece depicts a cat with a yellow eye and a base of flowers, including sweetly depicted lilies of the valley. Sanchez has been tattooing since 2008, and doing it professionally since 2023. Although he states the tattoo industry is not an easy industry, it’s work he loves. 

“When you’re an artist you’re pretty much trading one canvas for another, you just gotta figure out how to work that canvas,” says Sanchez. “I personally love it, I mean drawing on paper is dope, don’t get me wrong, but being able to put things you can do on paper onto somebody’s skin, that’s just a whole other level of art.”
Luis Sanchez / @da_vinci_ink401


Kat Devaney, Renaissance Tattoo Studio

This year’s winner of Favorite Character, Kat Devaney (not Kat Davinia, inside joke!) inked everybody’s favorite sea creatures – Spongebob, Patrick, and Gary! – happily bobbing in Bikini Bottom. “How can you not love him?” says Devaney. “You can’t go wrong.” 

Devaney does a lot of character work. “I love color so it’s primarily what I do.” As for the characters on her own skin, Devaney says, “I have a crazy leg. It has all color on it, versus the rest of my body, which doesn’t match because it’s all dark and edgy and black.”
Kat Devaney / @katdevaney


Ryan Dowden, Renaissance Tattoo Studio

During the early days of COVID, Ryan Dowden got his first tattoo machine. He was 16. Now, at the ripe old age of 20, he’s winning awards left and right for his tattoo artistry. At this year’s award ceremony, Dowden took home top prize for Favorite Blackwork and Favorite Split Faces. “I lucked out,” he says. “I got a great crew.”

According to Dowden, everybody’s different when it comes to tattoo work, but blackwork typically means tattoos based in all black ink — no gray, no color, just black. “It’s pretty competitive,” says Dowden. “There were some really great pieces out there.”

He credits Renaissance Tattoo owner and fellow tattoo artist Rob Gwozdz as his mentor, and the reason why he focuses on this style of tattoo art. “My mentor focused heavily on black and gray, so I guess I dialed into that, too.”
Ryan Dowden / @red.top04


Corey Creamer, ACME Tattoo

Corey Creamer, accompanied by his wife and puppy, Coyote, took home the award for Favorite Cover-Up. Creamer says that he got into tattooing as a joke after high school.

“I was skating with my old boss all the time,” Creamer says of his origin into tattooing. “I started being a scratcher like everybody does. He asked me what I was doing and put me to work in his shop, ACME Tattoo. I did all the shit work and I’ve been there for 17 years now.”

Creamer says that his work encompasses a little bit of everything, from black and gray work to cover-ups to traditional.

“It was all tribal,” Creamer says of his winning piece. “I covered it up with Japanese work. It was a half-sleeve. It’s on a good friend of mine. I didn’t think it could be done so we winged it and it worked out really good.”
Corey Creamer / @acme_ink_tattoo

– Bobby Forand


Emily Parker, Sacred Traditions Tattoo

Emily Parker has always wanted to be a tattoo artist and thanked COVID for giving her the break she needed to start her career. She does neo-traditional, anime, and a lot of color work. 

“I love anything anime and, more specifically, Pokémon,” Parker says. “I love Pokémon tattoos.”

Parker works at Sacred Traditions Tattoo in Pawtucket. She recalls watching “Ink Master” back in middle school and cites Kelly Doty as an influence. She says that she is good at fitting a “million things into a small tattoo.” She references her winning piece: a chameleon with sunglasses and a boot.
Emily Parker / @emilytattoo_

– Bobby Forand


Tara D’Agostino, Iron Lion Tattoo

Tara D’Agostino owns Iron Lion Tattoo in Cranston and specializes in black and gray, which landed her one of her two awards. Her reputation for drawing animals won her the Favorite Animal Award for a lion that she completed. “A lion is definitely one of my favorite animals to tattoo,” D’Agostino admits. 

D’Agostino started young and has built a strong reputation as a tattoo artist. “I’ve been tattooing since I was 15 years old,” D’Agostino proudly says. “I started really young and then I got a formal apprenticeship and now I own my own shop.”
Tara D’Agostino / @ironlion_taradags

– Bobby Forand


Jess Talbot, Bruxa Tattoo Co.

Winning for her tattoo of a large spider inked under the sternum, with a smaller spider beside it, Jess Talbot took home the night’s award for Favorite Traditional Tattoo. She notes that her style may have started as, “The old-school way that started with Sailor Jerry and all that” but that “’s been modernized a lot, and it’s definitely branched out.”

She’s always wanted to tattoo in the traditional style, and has been tattooing professionally for four years. She is currently tattooing at Bruxa Tattoo Co in Warwick.
Jess Talbot /


Jen Bierola, Rocky Shores Tattoo Company

“I do a little bit of everything,” says Jen Bierola, winner of the typography and calligraphy category at this year’s tattoo awards. 

Bierola is the owner of Rocky Shores Tattoo Company in Middletown and works mostly in traditional, but dabbles in various styles, including her winning category. The winning piece is a dynamic forearm tattoo, incorporating various fonts and flourishes for an ornate yet highly legible prayer.
Jen Bierola / @jenbtattoo


Amie Connors, Beautiful Ink Tattoo

Colors honoree, Amie Connors now adds Motif Tattoo Award winner to her heap of accomplishments, which include entrepreneur, artist, wife, mother, educator, beauty aficionado, and cancer survivor volunteer. 

“I am so honored to win,” enthuses Connors, owner of Beautiful Ink Tattoo & Permanent Makeup studio in Cumberland. “We really have the best clientele ever… they love me to put my spin on it.” A passionate painter and sculptor, Connors started drawing and painting at a young age, and now is known for her detailed artistry, precision, and vivid tattoo designs.When she dreamed about opening her own tattoo studio, “I was told it’s definitely not an industry for women.”

Fast-forward: Today, Connors is celebrating her studio’s 10th anniversary and an explosion of female artists who have followed her into the tattoo sector.
She is an ardent body-art lover, confessing that her first tattoo was a stick-and-poke at eleven years old. For nearly two decades, she’s been a licensed tattoo artist and certified permanent makeup and paramedical tattoo specialist. A Master Instructor for permanent makeup, she’s educated tattoo artists and beauty professionals from NY to California.

As part of the Boobification Healing with Ink team, Connors uses her talent to empower women to heal and triumph mentally and physically over breast cancer by blurring surgical scars with tattoo camouflage. For most breast cancer survivors, a look in the mirror can be debilitating and elicit self-conscious feelings. Tattoos mask the scars and create something beautiful. Connors is also credited with Boobification’s recent logo reboot.
Amie Connors / @amieconnors & @amieconnorsink

– Jenifer May


Kristen Lanctot, Beautiful Ink Tattoo

“Scar camo, what I won, was a pair of nipples,” says winner Kristen Lanctot, reflecting on the work she was recognized for at the awards. It wasn’t her first time taking home a trophy at the Tattoo Awards for her medical tattooing. “This is the second time I’ve won. I’m humbled.” When she’s not tattooing, she works as a surgical tech, saying “I work at Women and Infants Hospital in the operating room. I work with plastic surgeons and breast surgeons there.” 

As a tattoo artist, she specializes in “3D nipple & areola tattoos and scar camo,” as stated on her website. Her nipple tattoos are a helpful option for people who have undergone mastectomies or other chest surgeries. With scar camouflage, she says the goal is to “blend everything all together and make it look like natural skin.” She currently tattoos out of Beautiful Ink in Cumberland.

Kristen Lanctot / @lanctot_medical_tattooing


Joey Moreira, Cloud 9 Studios

A past winner of the Overall Favorite and several other RI Tattoo Awards across multiple categories, Moreira co-owns Cloud 9 Studios in Burrillville. He has been a tattoo artist for seven years, after a prolonged but unfulfilling stint in corporate America, and enjoys varying his stylistic choices. His winning piece, an elegant elephant with a third eye, displays rigorous precision in the black-and-white geometric patterns surrounding the figure.

Joey Moreira / @joeymo_inktherapy


Giulia Davis, Blackstone Tattoo Company

While Giulia could not accept her award in person, as she was experiencing the magic of a certain happiest place on earth with mousey cartoon branding, her friend Nick was on-call to accept the award on her behalf. “I think she’s one of the best artists in the state. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Excellent style, excellent diverse category of work that she’s done — she’s great,” Nick gushed, a true friend.

She won in both the Portrait and Linework categories, for an epic portrait of Frankenstein surrounded by lightning and roses, as well as an ooky spooky haunted castle beneath a full moon, straight out of a retro Scooby Doo intro sequence, respectively.
Giulia Davis / @giuliadavistattooer


Nicole Fenoff, Blue Magic Tattoo & Beautiful Ink Tattooing (Guest Artist)

One thing Nicole Fenoff wanted since she was a kid is something she calls her “work in progress,” and it is as much evidence of her in-demand creative talents as her newly-minted Motif Mythological Tattoo Award. “The knee-shin thing,” she explains, referencing an intricate, yet unfinished tattoo on her own body, “Tattoo artists never finish their own work.”

The award-winning tattoo and permanent cosmetic artist began her commercial art career painting, pin-striping, and airbrushing motorcycles and trucks – skills she incorporates into her tattoo practice. A graduate of Boston’s Butera College of Art and a nurse (LPN), Fenoff migrated to body art in 2008, working her way along the eastern seaboard from Florida to Massachusetts. She is currently in residence at Beautiful Ink in Cumberland, where she specializes in traditional, original, and cover-up tattoos.

Fenoff’s creative dexterity is apparent in the Snarky Dragon, original artwork mimicking medieval folklore and drenched in color that she believes echoes her client’s ethereal, whimsical nature and love of fantasy. Dragons are symbolic of magic and power, the gold-standard in the hierarchy of monsters. Collaboration with her client is key for Nicole to fully discern their heart, scope, and flavor of what they are looking for in a tattoo. “I want to give their vision and design life, while applying my style.”
Nicole Fenoff / @glassdarklyart

– Jenifer May


Ghiana Marinosci, Eclectic Body Art & Healing Studio

“I had gotten tattoos before, but I’d never considered it could be something I would do.” Says Marinosci, a former art student who was making her way through waitressing, house painting, forklift driving and the like until she was tattooed by Dave Bennett at Sitting Bull Tattoo in Newport, who saw her artwork and convinced her to try an apprenticeship. “It seemed like a closed community – I had no idea how to get started, or how apprenticeships worked,” she admits. After six years, it’s the community that really inspires her now, including her fellow artists at Eclectic Body Art.

She’s also proud to receive Favorite Skull. “That tattoo was on my best friend, who really just lets me do whatever I want, but I’ve been drawing skulls constantly since before I learned to tattoo, so it was really exciting for me.”
Ghiana Marinosci / @ghizuspiece


Rob Young, Altered Images Tattoo

For over 30 years, Rob Young has been a part of the local tattooing community. “It was still illegal in Massachusetts when I started,” he says. A doodler who found a channel for his artistic impulses, Young still loves creating tatts and working with other local artists. He is the founder of Altered Images, which recently consolidated to a single location in Cumberland, so Young and other Altered Images artists can spend more time tattooing and less driving.

“It’s interesting that the flower tattoo won,” says Young. “I usually focus on black and gray, so it was nice to stretch a little and submit something colorful.” He is looking forward to continuing to create great art in all colors.
Rob Young / @teamalteredri


Sammie Amodie, Phoenix Tattoo

For her winning tattoo, Sammie Amodie depicted a stack of three books sprouting wild flowers and leaves and surrounded by delicate inked stars. A life long lover of art, Amodie began building her tattoo profile in the early days of COVID. 

“I always toyed with the idea, but would talk myself out of it. Then COVID hit, and I had been doing music for a long time, but then the music industry shut down, so I was like, ‘Let’s do something else!’ Now I tattoo.”

In October 2022, Amodie apprenticed with Rhiannon Spaziano of Phoenix Tattoo in Cranston, which is conveniently (yet coincidentally) located on Phenix Ave. Phoenix Tattoo was founded in 2014 by Crissie Maher and Spaziano, whom Amodie credits as her mentor and inspiration.

“Rhiannon went through a lot. She had a lot of people tell her you’re never going to make it in this industry and she just kept overcoming obstacle after obstacle, and eventually she opened her own shop. She’s like ‘Yeah, I’ve risen like a phoenix.’ It’s a woman-owned business and she’s really successful, which is awesome, and we just happen to be on Phenix Ave.”
Sammie Amodie / @sammiegirl_tattoo

New School, Anime, & Overall Favorite

Jay Blackburn, Powerline Tattoo

“It feels good,” Jay Blackburn says of being the Overall Favorite this year. Working at Powerline Tattoo in Cranston, he is a seasoned veteran who has been tattooing since 2011. He has a four-year streak of winning Motif awards.

Blackburn, who jokes that his stage-ready last name nets him more compliments than his tattoo portfolio, also took home the award for Favorite New School.

“It’s blended from so many different styles over the years that narrowing down is tough,” Blackburn says, describing his style. “It was bold lines, bright colors, and perspective. It’s still kind of the same but it’s morphed into so many different genres. It’s kind of tough to explain now.”

“It’s anything that’s fun,” Blackburn concludes after a few seconds of thought. “Fun, bold lines, bold colors. The foundation of it is still the same.”

Jay Blackburn / @jay_blackburn

– Bobby Forand