“Who the hell are you and why are your blog posts even relevant?” Just kidding nobody has said that. Maybe they’ve thought it, but either way I feel like I should introduce myself. My name is Jessie, but most people call me Juicy (a nickname from my childhood that stuck around way longer than I thought it would.)
I’ve been interested in tattoos since I was 11 years-old. In 5th grade my best friend’s older sister revealed a purple butterfly tattoo on her bikini line that she had been hiding from her parents. I was hooked. This small purple butterfly tattoo with a swirly tribal pattern made my friend’s 16 year-old sister infinitely cooler, I didn’t know how, I just knew that I needed one as soon as I was old enough.
When I turned 16 my time had finally come. I somehow convinced my dad to acompany me, 4 friends, and 4 parents (to give consent to the minors getting tattooed) to get small, blue, 5 pointed stars tattooed on our wrists. To say we were obnoxious is an understatement. The artist asked us so many questions that we didn’t know the answers to, simple questions like, “how big do you want the tattoos to be?” and, “which wrist do you want to get tattooed left or right?” The tattoo artist had a very hard time hiding his annoyance with us, which looking back, was most definitely fueled by a wicked hang-over. When all was said and done we all had 5 very different, very crooked friendship tattoos.
Matt Scanlan at Think Tank South decided on, designed and tattooed my back piece
If I could talk to that 16 year-old idiot I would’ve grabbed her by the shoulders, shaken her, and yelled, “Listen, idiot: I know you really want to get tattooed right now, but save your money and get a full Traditional Japanese body suit!” I love all of my tattoos and the majority of my tattoos are really nice and really well done. I just wish I would have had the foresight to realize that my promises to myself of, “I’ll only get my arms down to my elbows tattooed” and “I’ll never tattoo my chest” were complete bullshit. Over the years I’ve only wanted more and more tattoos, now I see blank skin that just needs to be filled with work from artists that I respect and admire. I also recognize and appreciate the visual impact that one large, cohesive tattoo has. But hey, should, coulda, woulda, right? There are far worse things to regret than tattoos.
My thighs are tattooed by Fish and Adam Rosenthal, and my knees were Tattooed by Andy Canino
My second tattoo was done at Think Tank, by the owner, Scottie. I was 19 and not much wiser. Embarrassingly, I decided on lyrics from my favorite post hard-core band that I was going to love forever and ever (6 years, tops). But this tattoo, my business degree, and my knowledge of the salon booking software that the shop had pirated, got me a job at working as counter help when I was 22 and respond to a craigslist ad in 2008. Yup, 10 years. That’s how long I’ve spent engulfed in tattoo culture for at least 40 hours a week. I’ve gotten tattooed by some of my closest friends and traveled over seas to get tattooed by complete strangers. This by no means makes me an expert, in fact, I still consider myself an outsider. However, my experience has made me privy to a lot of the enshrined information that is only shared from one tattooer to another or from a tattooer to an apprentice. Am I going to reveal all of this knowledge I gained? No. Are my blog posts going to make it easier for you to become a tattooer? Hell no.
My goal here is to help clients navigate the enshrouded world of tattooing from an experienced collector and shop manager. Take my advice or don’t.
cover photo: Tabor Bond