Artist Spotlight: Jasmine Wright
While we rarely highlight an artist with less then five years experience, I'm happy to make an exception and share the work and words of Jasmine Wright, 26-year-old rising tattoo star, who has been tattooing 4 1/2 years (yeah, ok, it's close to 5 years) and is based out of Buju Tattoo in Mission Hills, San Diego. Jasmine has been on an intense 4-month travel streak, which concludes with her guest spot at New York Adorned from April 1st through April 5th.
I chatted via email with Jasmine about her work and also her thoughts on being a woman tattooist today. Here's how it went:
What type of tattoos do you love to do?
My favorite types of tattoos to do change all the time! More often than not, I'll prepare for a piece that I think I'll be super stoked on, and it ends up being a nightmare, and vice versa. I'll be dreading an upcoming tattoo, and then it ends up being a favorite. It's weird. But speaking in generalities, I always enjoy color pieces, things with lots of smooth, organic shapes. And as much as I like "feminine" tattoos, I also love a good "mean, manly" tattoo as often as possible.
I particularly love your renderings of female characters because they have a lot of soul to them. What goes into creating these types of works to give it the personality they have?
When I draw out women, I've recently tried to add as much expression as possible, usually based on the client who's getting the tattoo. Most of the female images I've tattooed are on male clients, so sometimes I'll try to envision what kind of chick they'd be into in the real world. The ones that are on female clients, I try to keep more whimsical and soft, to really draw an ultimate feminine vibe. I try to reference old Playboy models, vintage fashion magazines, makeup models, things like that. Especially the high-end fashion models who always have those intense expressions, which make for awesome reference material. Dramatic features n' whatnot.
What other references do you look to?
My reference material is all over the place. I have a ton of books, old magazines, botany, and animal anatomy illustration books. I also keep an eye on a handful of other tattooers and try to pull bits and pieces of stuff from everyone. I'm afraid of being categorized into tattooing too closely like another artist, so when I reference other tattoos I've seen, I always try to just use a small bit I've seen, or just the color palette, and not too much of the entire tattoo. It's hard to stay original, so it's a definite challenge.
Have you ever been met with any difficulty -- or any benefit -- being a woman tattooist?
If it were my choice (or even remotely realistic) I would love to tattoo anonymously without a name. Only because I want to be respected as a tattooer, not a FEMALE tattooer. There are a lot of instances that prove women tattooers get many things with less effort, or lower skill, or are just less deserving in general than their male counterparts, and I really hate that...There's a huge population of chicks that have come up recently, who only got to where they are by putting out half-ass tattoos and showing way too much skin to gain clients & popularity--simply by being a cute chick...I never want to ride off of being a girl to get anywhere in this community. I've really been working my ass off to just do good work that I can be proud of and gain respect of tattooers that I look up to from the work I do, not because I flirt. In that sense, I suppose it's an easy thing to fall into, and it's a difficult thing to work to avoid.
Also, I've met other tattooers who basically have spit in my face for being a girl; they told me I'll never make it, and that there's nothing I can do to ever be worthy. I think those people can kiss my butt, but I also agree in a small sense for those half-ass female tattooers I mentioned previously. There's a fine line that separates the legit women *artists*, versus the ever-increasing number of trendy "chick tattooers." Personally, I've had both benefits and hang ups by being a girl. I wish it wasn't the case in either direction.
Are you all booked up at NY Adorned (NYA) yet? If not, what's the best way to make an appointment?
I actually have no clue how my schedule at Adorned is looking yet, but I know I've got a handful booked. I'm sure I still have time left. Clients can email me through my website to discuss ideas and time frames, and follow up by calling NYA to pick a date and leave a deposit.
What other future guest spots and conventions are coming up?
I have a tattoo road trip in the works, most likely July/August, which will probably include multiple cities across the country (definitely Portland OR, Austin TX, Tempe AZ, and a handful of East Coast cities for sure). Those plans will be locked down by the end of April. I also guest spot in San Francisco at Seventh Son Tattoo almost every other month, and Unbreakable Tattoo in Los Angeles pretty often as well.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
I love my Aussie shepherd puppy, Albee, and I also love eating big awesome steaks! Haha! Otherwise, I'm a total old lady. I travel and tattoo, and sleep.