It's not just the plush pussy peaches and the tattooed cats that make me love Jaylind's work. It's also their unwavering transparency and open honesty about their life experience. Their creations are playful, but poignant. In their hands, Japanese, Neo Traditional, and Illustrative aesthetics become a bold tool of empowerment, transforming skin with vivid concepts and colors.
Jaylind's presence in the tattoo community is vital to its progression. Their words and work make people feel heard, visible, and confident. They are an integral part of a global movement to evolve the tattoo industry into the diverse and inclusive community that it should be.
Currently based in San Marcos, Texas, but soon headed to Portland, Jaylind was kind enough to take some time to speak about the difficulty in finding support within a white-dominated world, the importance of direct action, as well as their advice to others trying to find a place to flourish.
What were you like as a kid? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was growing up I was always outgoing, adventurous, and constantly drawing. I’d draw so much I’d get in trouble because my notes in class were just drawings on my papers instead. Ever since I was in elementary school I knew without a doubt I’d be some kind of artist. Whether it was musically, or illustrative, or both. I definitely knew that was my niche/purpose in the world.
We have to shift what we’re talking about, we have to buy black art and support more queer artists.
How’d you get into tattooing and what was your experience like?
Getting into tattooing was hard. I had a serving job I worked 40 hours a week and after work I’d just draw flash and post it on my instagram. I posted it on my page in hopes that an artist would find me and teach me! I wanted to learn so bad. My apprenticeship was not a traditional one and I had to teach myself mostly. It was so hard.
How has your style developed over the years, and what are your sources of inspiration?
I went to an art college so I always had this weird illustrative style that crept into my tattoos as well. Eventually after a couple years I got down the technicalities and learned to incorporate my style into tattoos. I’m also inspired by a lot of Japanese prints, Tibetan and Asian art.
People, I think, are sometimes unaware of the connections between tattoo culture and queer/kink culture. For those that do not know, can you talk about progressive identity politics/philosophies, and why this is such an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of a diverse tattoo community?
I think the only correlation the tattoo industry and kink culture have in common is a sort of taboo. Both things started off kind of frowned upon but you realize more people are involved than you’d think! Other than that I don’t see real diversity in tattooing. It's a very white industry.
We have to expose all of the misogyny, racism, and rape culture in the tattoo industry.
How do you feel people can do their best to support communities that need so much more visibility like black, trans, queer, and everyone in between?
We have to expose all of the misogyny, racism, and rape culture in the tattoo industry. And we have to do a much better job at supporting queer people of color who are also tattooers. Personally I feel like one of the lucky queer poc who got a break. But I definitely had to work twice as hard than a white man/white woman would ever have to in this industry. And it’s kind of sad because there are so so soooo many talented, queer, black artists that no one hears about/talks about— because we keep talking about the same white men who are in the industry. We have to shift what we’re talking about, we have to buy black art and support more queer artists. We always hear about the white people who tattoo! It’s old news!
Beyond art and tattoos, what are you really passionate about? What can you not live without? What would you be doing if you weren’t tattooing?
I’d be making music. I love music so much, the way it sounds and the way it makes me feel. I’ve been playing guitar for a few years and every time I pick it up and play it feels so good. Its definitely another love and passion of mine.
As long as you’re open to learning and growing you’ll be limitless!
What advice do you have for others trying to find a place in this world?
My advice would be to be kind to yourself, love yourself, and learn more about yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are like no other, and you can take your time learning and figuring things out. There is no right way, there is not one place you can find yourself. There’s many different ways to be. When you grow you draw in the right people, the right ones will always find you. And you will find your place in this world. Sometimes it’s more than one place. It’s changes with you. As long as you’re open to learning and growing you’ll be limitless!
Do you have any travel plans, projects, collabs, merch, etc. coming up that you’d like to share? Any hopes for this year or the next?
Every month I travel out of state to tattoo and visit friends. Sometimes I do panels for gender identity and sexuality classes. Helping educate others on sexual identity and gender identity. In other news, in 2020 I’ll be moving to Portland and I’m beyond excited about having a new fresh start. Lots of new adventures lie ahead!