Model. Tattooist. Ever-Patient Poker. Artist.

As a model, Tova Thomas has always found people to be their most beautiful when they’re completely and unapologetically themselves, doing what makes them happiest—which may be why one of her all-time favorite jobs remains an Oil of Olay spot that featured Tova along with her daughter.

Though she has been modeling since the age of 14, Tova has always felt happiest and most beautiful when expressing her distinctive artistic vision—be it through painting, drawing, or various sculptural forms. A free spirit with a pragmatic streak, she’d long been searching for a medium that inspired her—but one that could potentially support her family as well. In the summer of 2017, she found it in stick-and-poke/hand-poke tattooing, which uses the needle from a traditional tattoo machine without the machine itself, achieving an image one poke at a time.

The technique is more time consuming, but also more intimate. After all, each hand-poked tattoo is an exercise in trust, requiring the artist to transform the emotion motivating each tattoo into an imagistic whole, creating—poke by patient poke—a piece of art imbued with meaning and worthy of lasting a lifetime. After years of feeling reluctant to refer to herself as an artist, the designation feels inspired, authentic, and, indeed, beautiful.

Inspired. Inspiring. Visionary.



Bio by Merrill Feitell

“I really just wanna be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love”

Conor Oberst