Inkerviews features the work of tattoo artists and collectors, as well as fine artists, in a series of interviews. With an exciting lineup already in place and endless more to come, I hope you will check back often to read about these incredible people and enjoy their visually stunning talents.
Sometimes, you just know that someone was meant to be doing what they are doing. When one embraces and loves what they are creating, and are focused, determined and driven to improve upon that talent; well, it's pretty much a winning situation. Case in point, is Mr. Jason Reeder.
This talented new artist is about as humble as they come. He appreciates every step he has taken on his tattoo journey; and he is grateful to those who taught him, those who continue to teach him, and those whom he works with each day. He is dedicated to growing as an artist and has the most simple, yet most sincere of goals: to do solid tattoos and make people happy.
Though he has been involved in the tattoo industry for a long time and had nearly a full body suit collection on his own skin before he picked up a machine, his career as an artist has spanned less than two years. You certainly wouldn't know that looking at his work though. It's crisp, clean, bold, and whimsical; traits that are actually tricky to find done so beautifully in many corners of the tattoo world. Jason executes them like the pro that he is, and does it with a true sense of respect and gratitude.
Jason and his gorgeous wife Tasha are devoted to body art and all that comes along on the ride. An inked beauty herself (be sure to check out her Inkerview and see for yourself), she understands all that comes with the long hours that a tattooist keeps. Together, they eat, breathe, sleep, and love the tattoo industry.
It was such a pleasure to talk to Jason for this feature. He is an incredibly down-to-earth and kind person, with major league skills and an extremely bright future ahead of him. I hope you enjoy his excellent artwork and genuine words, on today's episode of Inkerviews.
How did you get started in the tattoo industry? Did you have a formal apprenticeship?
Well, I've been tattooing for about a year and a half now. Before tattooing I drove a tractor trailer for FedEx. I was talking to someone about building machines for him with a possible apprenticeship because I was tired of the normal day-to-day life. I hated the stress of driving a truck, but I was unsure of taking the step to do it. And for some strange reason my house burned down and I lost my 5-year career at FedEx all at once. Haha, if that wasn't a sign that I needed to do this, I don’t know what is.
So I said, “Screw it,” packed everything in my car and never looked back. I ended up in Springhill, Florida. There I apprenticed under CJ Harper, Thomas Kersnowski, and Marcus Lund of Brass Monkey Tattoo. I apprenticed for about nine months. They kept me busy doing your everyday apprentice stuff. I did a lot of drawing, tracing, cleaning tubes - all the fun stuff. I feel like I had a very good apprenticeship. They really pushed what makes a good tattoo into me. And I feel that CJ did an awesome job at teaching me how to be humble. For every time I felt that he was out of line or being a dick, I totally look back at it now and understand what he was trying to prepare me for. And I’ll forever be grateful for what that ol' man has given me!
After my time in Florida, I moved to Georgia to be closer to a lot of my friends and family. I'm currently working at Atomic Tattoo in Warner Robins.
Have you always been interested in art? When you were a kid, did you ever see yourself as a tattoo artist when you grew up?
I've always been interested in art. My parents always had me involved in something. I had all kinds of private art classes. And I always did things for the local fairs. I even tried to get a comic strip published in the local paper. But me being the hard-headed kid I was, I eventually got tired of only getting attention for my art. I was good at other things to. So I gave it up and focused on skateboarding, music and movies; which eventually lead to my love of tattoos.
I remember sitting on the couch with my grandfather and seeing all the "bad guys" in movies with their tattoos. And I remember telling him how cool they were. and that I wanted to be just like them. So I guess at first I just wanted to be covered in tattoos. I didn't have interest in doing tattoos until a little later in life.
Your work is so fantastic because it includes elements of realism, with whimsical touches, bold colors, clean lines, and more. How would you describe your style?
Thank you. It's hard for me to hear it being called “fantastic.” To me, it's probably the furthest thing from that. As far as my style goes, I wouldn’t know what to call it. I really hate labels and being put in a box. I honestly just do whatever hits me. I just want to do good, clean, solid tattoos.
I grew up with a huge interest in animation so I feel that plays a role in my tattooing. But other than that, I pretty much take the elements of tattooing that I most enjoy and try to jumble them all together. I mean, I love realism, but I personally fell like "absolute realism" with the minimal line work, won't withstand the test of time. But on the other hand, I feel that a "true traditional" tattoo is too limited. I feel like there are too many rules to it. So I want to try to meet them both in the middle; so it looks interesting, but it's also built to last. I figure as long as I’m having fun and I’m staying busy, and making people happy; I'm doing something right. The best I can do is take it one day at a time and see what happens.
How did your tattoo art journey lead you in this direction?
I don’t know, I guess a lot of it came from getting so heavily tattooed. I didn't start my apprenticeship until I was 28, so I had almost a whole body suit before I even touched a tattoo machine. So I guess having such an extensive collection from all of my favorite artists, and watching the whole process from beginning to end, I was able to see how time consuming a piece could be, how painful it is on the client, and how a piece of any given style is going to heal and break down over time. So I feel I developed a lot of my theories and application through my own personal experiences.
Who are your inspirations in the art world and in the tattoo industry? How do you feel they have had an impact on your work?
I'm very lucky to have the friends and family that I do. And they push me more than they could possibly ever imagine. I'm very inspired by Thomas Kenney, Les Collier, Bryan Reynolds, Taylor Cort, Sean Herman, Short, Bird, and Russ Abbott. These guys have all gone out of their way to be there for me at any given moment. And their friendship and advice means more to me than they'll ever know. These guys push me to be the best artist I can be, and helped teach me to not be afraid of taking risks and do what my heart says. I'm also influenced by Lu's Lips, Adam Hathorn, Jime Litwalk, Jeff Ensminger, Jeff Gogue, Alphonse Mucha, John Baizley, and Florian Bertmer. All of their personal art is so innovative and inspirational. I'm not afraid to admit that I’ve spent hours studying every line and every blend these guys have ever done. Hahaha, whatever it takes, right?
What would your dream piece be to work on?
My dream piece, huh? I would say one that I’m not scared to death to do! I sit back and look at how guys like Gogue, Russ Abbott, and Lu's Lips are throwing down these massive tattoos, that are just simply breathtaking; and I would love to have the confidence to pull something like that off. But I’ve got to learn how to crawl before I can run.
You have a gorgeous wife who is heavily tattooed and adores you. How does your relationship impact your work? Does she inspire you?
That girl pushes me pretty hard as well. If anything, she's not afraid to tell me what she really thinks. Whether I want to hear it or not, she's always got something to say. And it's usually pretty on point with what I’m already thinking. She's proud of me and always by my side. We've had it pretty rough and it takes its toll. But in the end, we stand by each other. We've been through so much in such a short period of time. I mean, we lived in 4 states in 2 years. It's hard, but it helps having someone who understands how demanding this industry can be. I never have to explain why I work so much, or why I’ve got to sit at home and draw instead of doing “couple” stuff. I try to make it up to her as often as I can. I wish I could do more. But there’s only so much time in a day. Someday it'll be better, I suppose. At least it gives us something to work for.
You are working at Atomic Tattoo in Warner Robins, Georgia. Can you tell us about the shop and your fellow artists?
Atomic is a busy little shop right outside Robins Air Force Base, in the heart of middle-Georgia, and is owned by my homeboy, Oscar. We actually just went under a massive remodel and the shop is dope. It's funny to hear your clients walk in and say, “Man, this place looks like the Olive Garden.” (haha)
The shop and crew is really rad. It's laid back, extremely comfortable; it's pretty drama free and super busy! What more could you ask for? We have six artists (myself included) and our piercer and counter help. I also get to work with one of my biggest inspirations in tattooing, Les Collier. Les is the real deal. He's so kind and humble and doesn't believe in all the politics of tattooing. He just eats, sleeps, and breathes art. His main goal is to just better his tattooing and making people happy. A lot of people forget that's what it's really all about. And it's a privilege to have that daily reminder. Love you, buddy!
Do you have plans to do a lot of traveling and conventions in 2010? If so, can you give us a rundown of where people will be able to see you and make an appointment with you?
I don't feel like I’m really ready for the convention monster yet. I'm going to do a spot at Sunken Ship in Seattle this spring; a few spots at Taylor Cort’s shop; and possibly Brass Monkey Tattoo. But I’m not doing anything on the circuit until next year. I just want to sit and focus on my art. I figure the traveling will come when the time is right. But if anyone is interested in getting tattooed by me, they can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on ol' myspace: myspace.com/jasonmfreeder
What are your goals for the coming year?
I just want to get better. I would say my biggest goal in tattooing isn't to be the flavor of the week and get printed a million times. I just want to be respected. I want to do good clean, solid tattoos, and make people happy. I would love to have the people I look up to and admire look at my portfolio, and not have any reason to hate on it. I care less if people dig what I’m doing, I just want someone to look at my stuff and be, like, “Man, that's clean! Good job.”
What one word best describes you?
What one word best describes your work?
Since your wife is an incredible baker, what is your favorite sweet treat that she makes?
Man, the girl can make a cheesecake out of anything!! So I’ve got to say her cheesecakes. Although she made these brown sugar, maple, bacon muffins thingies that were the bees knees!
*Be sure to visit Jason's myspace page to see more of his incredible work.
Last updated on March 17, 2010 by Jinxi Boo