Jesse Strong is a tattoo artist out of Surrey, British Columbia, and while you may know him for his absolutely insane lettering, whose typography perfectly embodies the meaning of each word, Strong has mastered nearly every style — including illustrative and realistic black and grey work.
Versatility in an artist is one of the most enviable traits, and while it can take years for an artist to master a single style, Strong has not only found his footing in various motifs, he’s found his own unique voice in each one. Strong’s illustrative and realistic work is powerfully still. Instead of sending the eye fluttering about the piece, he captures your attention with a single, seemingly tranquil scene.
Tattooing exclusively in black and grey, his work often features flora, fauna, and interestingly enough — time. Using blurred shading and softer focal points, his work often looks like it’s been sketched and blended with a gentle swipe of his finger, giving it a gentle stillness. Picturesque cardinals precariously perch atop a branch, beautiful blooming roses and perfectly still dragonflies find their way into his work, each looking as if they’re caught in a moment, suspended in time — some pieces containing hourglasses or grandfather clocks take this idea more literally.
We’re always told that time is of the essence, that one can never go forward or backward, but only be in the moment. The tranquility in Strong’s work is a testament to this, as it never looks forward, or reflects backward. It is only ever in the moment to appreciate all of life’s subtleties. Whether it’s the stillness of a blooming garden, the motionless wings of a dragonfly, or the eternal serenity that comes with death, there is a hushed placidity that floats throughout Strong’s work.