To celebrate the opening of our newest exhibit Tattooed and Tenacious: Inked Women in California’s History, we will be highlighting the work of the some local female tattoo artists who helped curate the exhibit.
Today, we are featuring local tattoo artist Jazz Fuller. Jazz has always enjoyed drawing and art, and was drawn to tattooing at a young age. After getting her first tattoo she fell in love with it. She has been tattooing for professionally for about three years and works Unlimited Ink Tattoo in San Jose and The Iron Sparrow Parlour in Morgan Hill.
What was the first tattoo that you got?
Jazz: The first tattoo that I got was Alpha and Omega symbols with a crucifix. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet, it kind of represents the beginning and the end and the ‘be all end all.’ With a first tattoo, the thoughts of “Oh my god, what am I going to connect to forever? What am I not going to regret?” almost drown you. You’re flooded with all these feelings of permanence, it’s important to let the experience unfold. I thought that this symbol was something I could back forever.
Do you remember the first tattoo that you did?
Jazz: Truthfully, my first experience making a tattoo for someone was pirate style on my buddy’s porch. With no training or understanding of the honor and practice of tattooing, I almost passed out from nervousness. I didn’t end up finishing it and the piece was the worst thing ever. I struggled like that for about a year, making the worst, ill-dignified experiments on my friends and self. Still drawn to tattooing; the longer it went on the more seriously I wanted to take it. From there I was able to apprentice, and that’s where all clarity with the trade of tattooing has come from. Tattooing is something that you’ll learn forever — you’ll never stop learning. There’s no be all and end all tattoo or shop, it’s a lifelong journey of cultivation; I don’t think of that as a daunting, but exciting.
What is your relationship like with your clients?
Jazz: I really love people for their unique personal qualities, I want to experience everyone. I think a majority of what I have to offer — since there are so many other tattooers amazing or not, and such an over-saturation in the industry, especially in the last 10 years with the celebritizing of tattooers and bridges being crossed with tattooing and other facets of art — is my own interpretation of the art and the experience. I feel valid if I think this way. If I tattoo you, you are in so good with me, you are one of my people forever. It’s kind of like a religious experience in a lot of ways. That tattoo is a physical manifestation of the intangible things like your soul or spirit, and as a person it’s a way to connect those sort of things with your physical form and having the opportunity to be a part of that is so special to me; I’m totally humbled and in awe of it.
Is there a tattoo you’ve done you are most proud of or that stands out for you?
Jazz: There’s definitely a type of tattoo that I like to do best. It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s more of an interpretive tattoo situation. These folks are not coming in with a specific idea, but a general idea that we interpret together. Trying to figure it out together, talking, and creating images that can promote that person’s feeling and represent that meaning for them. Someone has to be open and willing to step into the ring to get a tattoo like that, so those are really special to me.
Follow Jazz on Instagram @yung.miss to see some of her work and stay tuned for more interviews with local women tattoo artists. Check out their work in our newest exhibit Tattooed & Tenacious: Inked Women in California’s History – opening Sunday, March 20, at 12:00pm in the Leonard & David McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House in History Park.