Artist Profile: Jesse Lee Vaughn

nicole in Tattoo Artists

(The above picture was taken on his adventures in South America)

Mr. Vaughn is quite a character, he hails from Colorado originally but he is quite the travelin' salesman. He's like Captain Caveman meets a leprechaun meets Jesse James (the cowboy, not the sex addict). About 5 months ago he sold his shops Americana Artworks and Haunted Pillar Tattoo, both located in downtown Augusta, GA  and went South for the winter to Cúcuta, Colombia. There he was the only resident spanish speaking gringo around, this seemed to only add to his novelty amongst the barrio residents.

So what's he been doing down there? A quick look at his Facebook profile shows that he's been busy painting, drinking Juan Valdez and befriending all the local mom & pop businesses like blacksmiths, shoe cobblers, other artists, (and a lot of iguanas) all while pondering his next venture; opening a new shop in Denver, Colorado.

The artist in front of his shop
The artist in front of his shop

How long have you been tattooing?

17 years

You went to Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), what did you study?

Classical 2-D animation. .. I was never serious about SCAD. I was only there 6 months for a different reason.

What did you do before tattooing? 

I had way to many jobs to list before tattooing. But as I was learning to tattoo, I delivered and set up pool tables.

 What was your first tattoo received? 

I got my old man's initials on my arm in some Mexican fellers kitchen in California. He spoke no English and I was too drunk to remember any Spanish... for some reason it hurt like hell though.

Recent from Tattoo Artists

You have a lot of cartoon tattoos. What are your favorite cartoons? 

Tex Avery, Looney Tunes, Hanna Barbera, old Disney not new Disney, Mad magazine (and Playboy cartoons of course).

Would you say cartoons were partly responsible for your career choice in tattooing?

Nope. I did it all for the dough, my friends would pay me, say $20 bucks to draw a tattoo and then they'd go get it done for $400. I decided I better get on the other end o' that deal.

Do you think you have a signature style? Is there one style you prefer doing over others?

Nope. I have no particular style. I never understood why other artists would limit themselves that-a-way. It’s always been better for me to be able to reproduce ANY style on (request) demand; mo money for me.

Why do you think people choose religious tattoos?

Religious tattoos... hmm... honestly I think it’s mostly the folks who like the way tattoos look, but are still overly concerned with what their 'peers' will say (don't wanna be outta grandma's will) "yeah yeah, ya hate tattoos, but it's JESUS rippin' outta my throat! Can’t hate Jesus, grandma"

How many sets of praying hands have you tattooed? Praying hands?... Jeeesus.. (again) umm... enough, laid end to end, to encircle the liquor store that they drove me to, year after year after year after....

Ever had a tattoo removed? Yes, all the crap on my hand was removed... thank god... (as grandma says)

Mr. Vaughn learning the art of tattoo removal down in Texas.
Mr. Vaughn learning the art of tattoo removal down in Texas.

What is your funniest/weirdest tattoo story? Hmm... I tattooed a crazy skinhead from my Denver "crackitol hill" neighborhood. I'd been tattooing a few months at this point. I tattooed "war paint" on his face, freehand! When I was done, I noticed it to be a bit "less than symmetrical" so I told him to go take a look...he was gone for 15 minutes and I was a bit uneasy as I DID say/mean he was crazy. When he returned, he was jackass grinning and said it perfectly reflected how his cheekbone was lower on one side courtesy of a baseball bat... ok, good bud, there's the door.

Any advice for tattoo seekers? Yeah, go to my shops or I'll find out and one day I'll have nothing better to do than to hunt people down for the pettiest o reasons. .. and that'll top my list, so it'll be soon.

Next stop Denver!
Next stop Denver!


@Nicole Losey

I am a writer, digital artist and web designer residing in Asheville, NC. I enjoy all tattoo styles, but my favorites are the new watercolor style and realism. I love color and I really like artists that can make it come to life.


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