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“I remember feeling like the shop was filled with scum bags because they were telling us to our faces which one of us they’d like to fuck, and which one they would pimp out.”Eva Jean
Lady Tattooers: Describe your first tattoo experience…
Eva Jean: I spent my youth in upstate, New York and the legal age for getting tattooed there is 16, so, naturally my friends and I skipped out of school early one day and drove downtown, with chalked learners driver’s permits, and proceed to get shitty tattoos at a sketchy street shop. I got some generic lower back tribal and it was only $30 because the apprentice did the tattoo. It took him around 2 hours maybe. I was tiny and it wasn’t all that big, maybe 4 inches across by 2 inches high, solid black, and of course it was on my lower back in the great year of 1999!!!!! God that makes me feel so old.
LT: Oh my! This story sounds familiar… Do you still have the tattoo?
Eva: It’s covered up now by a full black back piece that my friend Randall started and now Thomas Hooper has taken over and is working his stuff into the original layout by Randall Muntz.
LT: So, overall feeling of your first experience?
Eva: I remember feeling like the shop was filled with scum bags because they were telling us to our faces which one of us they’d like to fuck, and which one they would pimp out. They were smoking inside and asking us to come party with them later that night. I had no idea that what a shop was all about, and that experience left me feeling that that was all there was.
LT: Wow, that sounds like the kind of place that has been slowing disappearing due to the popularity of the tattoo industry today and the new generation of tattooers.
Eva: Yeah there is a lot of that still, and that largely how it was overall, but now the industry is filled with art students who aren’t just bikers or some people have been around long enough that they’ve outgrown their wilder days and just want a legit, smooth running business.
HOW EVA GOT HER START…
LT: Tell us about the first tattoo you ever did…
Eva: The first tattoo, VERY first tattoo that I made was a tiny line on a friend of my mentor. His name was Dustin, I believe, and David Catallano was showing me the ropes over at Tracy’s Tattoos in North Tonawanda, NY. It was about a quarter inch of a line and he pulled me into the room to do it, quite unexpectedly. He just told me to wash my hands one day and then put on some gloves while he was making this tattoo. So I did and that was that. Not long after that, I made an outline of a fly on David’s forearm.
LT: How spontaneous! Were you nervous?
Eva: I remember being so scared that I didn’t even think. I just followed the lines and kind of went robo-blank upstairs out of fear.
LT: So When did you begin proper training?
Eva: Right before my 19th birthday is when I started apprenticing, and if I remember correctly, it was a few days before or after I turned 19 that I did that fly outline. It felt very familiar for me. After it was over I don’t remember feeling empowered or high, but more so like I was finally making a little headway into my journey of higher learning with my apprenticeship.
For the first year and a half I would say, I still lived with my parents, and around age 20 moved into a house in downtown Buffalo with a few friends.
LT: You were so young when you became an apprentice, there’s probably not much of a BT (Before Tattooing) but if there was, would you tell us about it?
Eva: Before tattooing I was a dishwasher, nanny/ babysitter, movie theater clerk, waitress in a Greek restaurant, telemarketer (1 week was all I could stomach of that shit) and lastly worked retail at a fine home goods store. I was just about a year out of high school when I started to apprentice and the art institute of Philly/ SF was on my agenda, but I decided to take a year off and just hang with friends. Make some money at a job and then get back to “buckling down” at a school…
Also, art has consumed my attention since I can remember. From drawing to painting, sewing clothes, taking photos, doing creative makeup, making jewelry, most things that involve hands on creative expression has always appealed to me.
I bought a guitar and started skateboarding before I landed my apprenticeship, and occasionally I still like to skate, but mostly I now just paint and draw, and create a few pieces of embroidered dresses & shirts as an alternative to drawing or tattooing.
LT: So how tattooed are you now?
Eva: Right now I am completely tattooed except for: backs of my thighs, belly, palms, soles of my feet, and head and full face. Everywhere else, there’s tattoos. I will absolutely get more.
LT: How do you feel about hand and neck tattoos on yourself or for others?
Eva: I like them and think when done appropriately that they can be very beautiful & powerful.
EVA, ON SOCIAL MEDIA…
LT: Do you think it’s important to have popularity online in order to have a successful career?
Eva: Mmmm, I think just putting your information out there is important. It’s 2015! Google is the modern day yellow pages, and if you’re not sharing information, there is a greater chance that you could miss on some potential clientele. However word of mouth trumps all, forever. Rooting down in one place for a minute and giving someone a good tattoo, will 9 times out of 10 bring that person back the fastest AND they’ll tell AND show many of their friends and family in the flesh what a great job you did…those people see how enthused the person you tattooed is and that’s a legit non-fake real deal commercial. Word of mouth is the best advertisement, hands down.
LT: What are your feelings about the accessibility of reference via Google, Instagram, etc?
Eva: I think the internet is a great at your finger tips library, but that doesn’t mean you should copy everything and get lazy with creativity.
EVA THE ANIMAL LOVER…
LT: Are you an animal person?
Eva: Animals are amazing creatures that keep us as humans in touch with empathy, patience and responsibility.
I’ve had cats for most of my life, and at the moment am daydreaming constantly about having a Tibetan Mastiff.
LT: Thanks for sharing Eva!