As we scoured Instagram for new artists, the four-eyed women of budding tattoo apprentice Jade pulled us in. We were captivated by bedroom scenes, pops of bright color and striking murals – we had to learn more about this tattoo apprentice, who works at the All-Female Heartless Tattoo in Los Angeles…
How long have you been a tattoo apprentice and how did you get your apprenticeship? I started my trip in November. I was apprenticed in a store in Beverly Hills that was owned by blacks, which was really dope. I was there for a few months, but unfortunately this opportunity was cut short. Even though I hadn’t been there for a long time, I was able to absorb a lot of important information about what it’s like to tattoo darker skin, which is very important to me as an artist.
Honestly, I had my first apprenticeship just by being in the right place at the right time. After leaving my first apprenticeship, I was offered another opportunity to continue my journey at an all Woman of Color store located in Los Angeles, Heartless Tattoo. Heartless owner Yher has been a longtime inspiration to me and my friend and she told me that when I was ready she had a home for me. I couldn’t be more grateful for my heartless family!
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the tattoo industry? I would tell them to make themselves known as an artist, to make connections, to continue to practice your profession. Nothing is just given to you. Living your dream takes hard work, dedication, and practice. Also, I would tell them to make sure this industry is something that you are really passionate about and that you are willing to sacrifice for it. Pay homage to those who have done it before you and the history behind it.
Can you share with us your experience as a woman in the tattoo world and your experience as a black woman in this industry? So far, so good. The store I’m in is an all-female store, so it’s really nice to be around female energy, especially in such a male-dominated industry. As I deepen myself into the industry, I know that there will of course be challenges not only being a woman but a black woman as well, but I’m here for combat and representation.
What does the tattoo scene look like in LA? LA has so much history and has played a HUGE role in tattoo culture and history. From Ed Hardy to GoodTime Charlie, to Freddy Negrete and Mister Cartoon, they’ve paved the way for us and put the LA / SoCal tattoo on the map. It’s crazy that I can call this place my home and be surrounded by so much history. It’s very normal to see people get tattoos in Los Angeles, it’s very accessible to get a tattoo here. This is completely normal. You will walk down Melrose Ave, and pass like 10 stores within a two mile radius. It’s quite interesting!
We love your girls with double eyes, what inspires your illustrations? I have always been inspired by black women and women of color. The Four Eyed Girl is how I add a little bit of myself to every painting. I’ve been wearing glasses since third grade and calling myself four eyes has always been a thing, so I just reoriented them in my world. When I got serious in my art, I wanted to create something that looked like me and that looked like me too. I realized that a lot of the artists I admired didn’t portray black women (until recently honestly). And I wanted to create something that I would have liked to see as a kid.
Are there any artists or tattoo artists that you admire or who influence your work? There is a list of people that I admire and who influence my work. I can talk about it honestly all day. When it comes to tattooing my Heartless family inspires me every day, I can’t believe I’m surrounded by such talented and cool people. I’m also inspired by Doreen Garner (@flesh_and_fluid), Brittany Randell (@humblebeetattoo), K. Wong (@kwongtattoo) and Lydia Madrid (@lydiamadriid). My artistic influences are Christina Martinez (@sew_trill), @reesabobeesa, Natasha Lillipore (@lillipore), Hailey Losselyongs (@hai_ey) and Tamia Blue (@tamiablue).
What do you like to draw / tattoo and what do you want to do more? I love to draw my girls and I want to be able to tattoo them as well as my original art.
How would you describe your style? Where do you want to take your tattoos in the future? I would describe my art style as illustrative for sure. But when it comes to my tattoo style, I want to push my work as neo-traditional and show black art in the neo world.
Can you tell us about your own tattoo collection, which was your first, which is your favorite? I have been collecting tattoos since my eighteenth birthday. My mom and step dad are both heavily tattooed so my mom literally dropped me off at the tattoo store on my birthday. My first tattoo is a hamsa with a Ganesha inside on my rib. It will forever hold a special place in my heart since it was my first one, but I don’t have any favorites. I think for the most part my tattoos are tough! There is a couple that I really wish to be different but I still love them and it’s fun to look back.
Have your tattoos changed the way you see yourself and your body? ABSOLUTELY! I couldn’t imagine myself without my tattoos and I intend to cover the majority of my body. It’s so much fun looking at the coins and being like holy crap, that’s my arm.
I have the impression that they make me, me. It sets me apart from others and at the same time I am part of a community of sick donkeys.
We love how open and honest you are about your sanity on Instagram, can you tell a little more about why it’s so important to share it. I felt like at that point it was time to share where I am and how I feel. I never liked talking about my mental health because it made me feel like a burden on others, but this time I knew I was not open for myself but for those who feel the same and feel the same alone. I felt like it was important to let people know that there is nothing wrong with not being.