Heather Mclean – swaps tattoo gun for paintbrush

Yes Ma'am interviews Canadian artist Heather Mclean

Heather Mclean in the studio.

Canadian artist Heather Mclean (aka hbomb) takes the plunge from a lengthy career as a sought after award winning tattoo artist to take up paintbrush once more. With the daring decision to pursue fine art, Heather discovers many personal benefits. I can only imagine those permanently inked with her creativity are walking around feeling extra special right now, knowing they’re a limited edition canvas. For the rest of us her visual art will satiate the soul and senses endlessly. Win win really!

I expect that you will find her main influences, including astrophysics, quantum mechanics, biology, psychology, physical and mental illness, and Advaitic Hinduism, as intriguing as her art itself. For this “…translator, converting ideas and experiences into a visual language…” has always been part of her life path.

Tell us about the first piece of art you ever created and fell in love with?

I’m not sure if I have ever fallen in love with one of my pieces. I get really excited about the initial vision, and chasing it and bringing it into this world.

I’m scared of one of my unfinished paintings- maybe i will fall in love when it’s done.

Yes Ma'am interviews Canadian artist Heather Mclean

No Love Lost (Outside) painting by Heather Mclean

What’s subject matter most interests you as an a artist and why?

Humans processing challenge and suffering and converting it into a growing and learning thing. Breaking patterns. Overcoming the pain body, genetics and societal programming. Overcoming adversity. Strength of spirit and connection to others and something greater. Because that’s what interests me in all facets of my life.

Yes Ma'am interviews Canadian artist Heather Mclean

No Love Lost (Inside) painting by Heather Mclean

If you could meet any “deceased” artist, who would it be and what would you want to talk about?

Da Vinci.

I would ask him about being an artist in that era, how he perceives himself, about being queer and vegetarian, if the Mona Lisa is just a composite of the Lady of Ermine and himself in drag.

From a flourishing career as a tattoo artist, what made you choose to leave the old profession and pursue fine art? 

It was kind of the perfect storm of things lining up. I had been taking time off for the last couple years of tattooing to work on my own projects. Between my family, health, and a lifelong dream of being a full time studio artist, I saw a chance and jumped. I’m very grateful.

Yes Ma'am interviews Canadian artist Heather Mclean

Currents painting by Heather Mclean

What have been the challenges and joys of your decision?

Well it’s only been 3.5 months. Im fortunate that challenges are few at this point. I suppose I see the void in the lowbrow art world in Canadian galleries. Joys are so many. Working from home, getting quite alone time, being able to make my own art, spending more time with my family, having weekends off for the first time in 15 years, not having all the stress and posture issues associated with tattooing, getting really great feedback and opportunities from people. I’m very happy.

Yes Ma'am interviews Canadian artist Heather Mclean

Little Birds drawing by Heather Mclean

What’s next in the creative life of Heather Mclean?

I’m working on a series of collaborations, a book, and continuing work on my own pieces. Re-learning oil paints and a bit more 3d stuff.


If you’ve fallen in love with her art like me you can purchase originals:


And/or follow Heather Mclean on Instagram: @heathermcleanartist



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