In recent years, we’ve seen a boom in the popularity of hand poked tattoos as a sort of renaissance has taken hold of the style. Artists like Tea Leigh, Grace Neutral, and Jenna Bouma are making a name for the hand poked work through artistic integrity and impeccable technique that would make any naysayer question whether their initial beliefs regarding the credibility of the style. Jenna Bouma has been tattooing since she was eighteen years old, and in that time she’s become one of Brooklyn’s finest hand poke artists. Simplistic in nature, while evoking an unprecedented air of cool, Bouma’s tattoos are worth the unprecedented waitlist.
Bouma might be a renowned tattoo artist now, with nearly 100K Instagram followers to prove it, but she wasn’t always so confident. In an interview with The Great Disconnect, Bouma talks about the growing pains she went through learning her craft. “[My] biggest challenge was that I was unable to get an apprenticeship because there wasn’t anyone who could teach me this form of tattooing," she says. "Because of that, I literally just tried out a bunch of different methods until it felt right, and then I tweaked it as I went.”
Landing somewhere in between old school and traditional, Bouma’s work deals predominantly with female figures and fauna. Simplistic yet incredibly expressive at the same time, her tattoos are a testament to the underlying artistry found in hand poked work. Versatile in placement, size, and subject matter, some of her most impressive pieces take up entire backs, stomachs, or chests — something that leaves us in complete awe at the sheer thought of poking an entire scene on that large of a space, as well as cringe in empathetic agony for those poor souls sitting through such a session.
Bouma can be found at East River Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York, but if you find yourself at the wrong end of a profoundly long wait list, or not in the area fear not, as you can get your hands on a piece of Bouma’s work in jewelry form starting this month. If Bouma’s brought hand poked work this far in just a short nine years, imagine what lies ahead.