If a person wants to be a surgeon, they don’t just watch a bunch of episodes of ER and proclaim themselves capable, so why should it be any different for an artist looking to create works inspired by Eastern cultures? Jondix understand this and knew that, if he wanted to excel, he needed to hit the road and experience the world. This belief spurred him to embark on a number of voyages, getting tattooed by monks at Wat Bang Phra and haggling with vendors in the bustling streets of Kathmandu along the way. Now, despite growing up in Spain and working in London, his tattoos are, in many ways, closer to the roots of Buddhist art than most of the paintings being produced throughout places like India, Nepal, and Thailand today.
Jondix has been interested in Eastern philosophy ever since Steve Vai introduced him to it. After getting turned on to the subject, he did everything that he could from to learn about astral projection, sacred geometry, crystals, et cetera, scouring bookstores and convincing owners to order titles that weren't on the shelf. But books simply weren't enough; only his passport and a leap of faith into a different world would give him the knowledge he craved.
“If you go to India, you can see all the different schools of temple painters and learn some stuff from each of them,” Jondix explains. “Different regions means different ways to draw a Buddha, for example, or even the calligraphy and the language is different. If you are very interested in something you need to go all the way. All or nothing!"
Travel is a powerful source of cultural insight and inspiration, but Jondix acknowledges that it won’t just magically turn anyone into a masterful artist. In fact, he warns against the dangers of getting too swept up in the overwhelming romanticism of visiting places like India. He remembers watching the painters at the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala and being impressed at the time, but later he learned that they are not traditionally trained artisans and actually just make cheap facsimiles to sell to tourists.
Experiences like these point right at what is undermining the authenticity of Eastern art — greed. “One important painter in Thailand let me watch him paint was also not real Buddhist. All he wanted was money,” Jondix recalls. “So much attachment [to the material world] that they don't even care and will lie to you to take your money. That was just my experience, though, which is exactly why you need to travel, to find out for yourself.”
“Culture is universal, but if you try to become a Thai monk by tattooing those designs, you're wrong, and you are also lying. It's all a game between you and the customer and the reasons he or she chooses the design,” Jondix explains. “It's also about what you offer, about what you are selling. I am who I am, I don't try to be someone else. My roots are in surrealism and rock'n roll, but I have a high admiration for Buddhist iconography, so I try to sell beauty and positive stuff. Everything I do is for the sake of beauty, for the sake of art.”
To see more of Jondix’s mind-blowing black and grey tattoos, follow him on Instagram. Should you want a back-piece of a Tibetan skull or a depiction of the Buddha by him, he owns and operates out of Seven Doors Tattoo in London, England and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking.