Tattoo Artists You Really Should Get To Know: Jay Freestyle
We got up close and personal with the artist who is bound to have you ‘getting a tattoo and having no idea what it will look like.’
A few months back, we've featured a story about a young writer who have gotten herself a special tattoo from Jay Freestyle, an artist who tattoos like a painter. We heard that Jay has a tattoo process which isn't like anything we've ever seen before. When we get tattoos, of course, we know what we want to have in mind. But with Jay, the more freedom of art you give him, the more thrilling the tattoo experience is. Maybe we could call that ‘the Jay Freestyle experience,’ perhaps?
How did you get into tattooing, and how long have you been in the business? I began tattooing in 2009. I started off as a piercer and my mentor was the one to actually push me to learn tattooing. I started practicing on pig skin for couple of months and once I felt confident moved onto friends and co workers. I had a lot of work done on myself by professionals and that was one of the main ways I learned and got into the trade.
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Who or what were your earliest influences? My early influences where Guy Aitchenson, Shige, [and] Brandon Bond. I didn’t have my own style back then and these were some of the artists whose works I admired. I really liked Japanese and biomechanical tattoos back then. The thing that they both have in common and is a huge influence in my work, is the fit and flow of the designs. Also the size of the pieces resonates a lot in what I do. Both styles require large spaces in order to accentuate the body and generate movement.
What's the best part about being a tattoo artist? Being able to do what I love and make a living off of it. To be able to travel anywhere in the world and work there is also one of the best perks.
Personally, how would you describe your art/tattoo style? My tattoos are very graphic and abstract, produced in a painterly manner. It’s a combination of all different elements that I enjoy tattooing. The thing I like most about my style is it can’t really be categorized, because I’ll always be evolving as an artist and so the style will always be changing. Sometimes when people try to explain or describe my style they, for a lack of better words call it “Jay Style,” which I kind of like. It’s Jay style; it’s whatever I want it to be.
Tell us about the creative process of your tattooing. How does it all pan out? We're really curious of how it all turns out into these unique pieces. The collector has a large impact on the creative process. [With] some people I have an automatic click with; we bounce ideas back and forth, or they just give me total freedom. Those collectors always end up with my best work. When I have total freedom, it’s easy to then just create art. Mostly I’m thinking about how the piece fits the area of the body and how it flows. I try to focus on creating movement in the piece and focus on how the piece looks as a whole from a distance. I myself never know how the piece is going to turn out because I’m making stuff up while I’m tattooing and adjusting things as I go along. A lot of times with large scale pieces I change the design during each session because I change my mind about certain elements or the composition.
How would you describe the tattoo scene in Amsterdam? The Amsterdam tattoo scene is pretty small in my opinion. It’s still a bit taboo. [The] Dutch are still very afraid to get big pieces. People here don’t really have very original ideas; they often want simple small stuff. Well, that’s pretty much what the Amsterdam tattoo scene is like. One of the reasons why I travel so much, the tattoo scene here is too small and generic for my liking.
Where do you usually look for inspiration? Usually, other artists influence me. There are so many amazing artists out there and almost everyday I find someone new whose work I look up to. Aside from tattooing, what are your other interests? I try to paint/draw if I have the time. I’ve started taking interest in the Japanese art of Shibari. I work really hard, so there’s almost no down time to do anything else besides tattooing.
What's one thing you'd tell someone who's determined to pursue tattooing? Hmmm, if it’s just one thing I guess it would be [to] get tattooed by the best in the industry. If you want to be the best you got to learn from the best.
Any future projects or plans for your career as an artist? Further world expansion! I’d like to one day also hold my own art exhibition. I’m thinking of maybe doing some small side projects not related to painting/tattooing that are more in the direction of performance arts. Nothing is certain though.
Anything else you'd like to add like to add? I feel I’m just getting started in my career. With art, there’s never an end to what you can learn and accomplish. I will continue to push my limits as an artist and a person, so there’s definitely more to come.