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Article: We Are Oaklandish: Natalie Phillips

We Are Oaklandish: Natalie Phillips

We Are Oaklandish: Natalie Phillips

What was the inspiration for your 'Respect the Locals'  design? 

The concept for this shirt is old-school tattoo meets local school mascot. I went to Chabot Elementary School in Oakland, and we were the “Chabot Bobcats.” Our school mascot was this really funky vintage looking illustration of a bobcat face and I remember loving that graphic as a kid and thinking it was so cool. So the bobcat on the shirt is a reference to that, but drawn more like a classic tiger tattoo. 

You mentioned you attended school in Oakland, can you describe that experience? 

Overall a positive experience with some very “Bay Area” teachers. Because this was the 90s, there was a computer games class that I guess was supposed to help us get comfortable using computers, and I remember we all used to fight over who got to play The Residents “Freak Show” CD rom. It was such a creepy and unhinged game and I love that the teacher thought that playing it should be included in a child’s public school education. 

Are there certain things you love to draw, or what kind of art do you want to do more of? 

I love to draw anything organic: plants, animals, pin up girls, skeletons and bones. 

I’m really drawn to the combination of “soft” and “tough” elements, like a heart made out of centipedes or barbed wire with flowers coming through it. Images that are beautiful but also have an element of “don’t fuck with me.” Poison Ivy from Batman is one of my icons. 

Outside of tattooing, it’s always been a fantasy to paint a comic book cover or design monsters for a board game or video game. 

What do you love about tattooing? 

Every day is different with tattooing. It’s a powerful energy exchange and it has to be done person to person. It forces me to be out in the world engaging with people instead of being holed up in my room painting.

It can be a rollercoaster sometimes, but tattooing is the only job that’s ever been able to keep me engaged and hold my attention. I plan on doing it as long as I’m physically able to. 

What’s the tattoo scene like in Oakland? 

I can only really speak to my experience working at Temple Tattoo, but I love tattooing in Oakland. Freddy Corbin, the owner, has been tattooing for 36 years and has created such a great shop ambiance. The shop just attracts every type of person and we all have something in common because we all love tattoos.  

What do you want to see more of in Oakland’s future? 

I’d like to see more small businesses and sports teams in Oakland, and less car bippings. 


Oakland is diverse and Oakland is proud. 'We Are Oaklandish' is a storytelling project created to highlight just that.

These are stories that shed light on the different experiences, memories, and opinions of the people in the city we all love. They are people who give our city its oddball spirit, its passion for justice, and its creative vigor. They lift us up with laughter, peace, nourishment, and authentic hard work.

They make us proud to call this town our home. They are Oaklandish.

Shop the collection: Hometown Collection

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