Not only incredibly adept at beautifully detailed fineline tattoos, Jade Chanel is a golden soul who uses her platform to promote empowerment, compassion and inclusivity. In between creations of unique depictions of florals, animals, and gorgeously lush Egyptian scenes, Jade Chanel takes time to make others feel heard and inspired. She's part of a positive and progressive wave in contemporary tattooing that makes our future look bright. Based in London at the studio she founded, Vaporwave Tattoo, Jade was kind enough to take time out of a busy schedule to share some thoughts with us.
First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself like your background, what you love to do, and what you’re all about?
I was born and raised in East London! I’ve always been artistic and I’ve spent a lot of my years creating things. I’d say I’m super passionate and I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m all about empowering and inspiring people to live freely! Especially women! Girl power!
Can you talk about what drew you to the tattoo industry? What was your experience like becoming a tattooer?
A flexible career was always what I desired. I have Stage 4 Endometriosis which made working on a schedule very difficult. I fell into depression when my health was at its lowest point. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere because I wasn’t well enough to do what everyone else was and my ex-employees made me feel inadequate. After having an operation and spending a month on the beach in Miami, I returned home with a new fire in my belly. I wanted to take charge of my life but also, be kind to myself by doing my best when I could. Tattooing allowed me to do that. I could finally utilize my creativity and meet people with the same mindset. I apprenticed at Lowrider Tattoo under some of my favorite tattooists. I looked up to them a lot. There, I developed my own style. I think my creative style became more feminine as an outcome of working around a real masculine energy that I wanted to dominate.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattooer or not? Who do you look to for inspiration, even beyond the arts?
First and foremost, the women I work with are incredible. Annabelle Luyken and I started apprenticing together and I remember us being pretty bad at tattooing. Now she is hands down one the best tattooers I’ve been tattooed by! My amazing friend Leah Luna, also a tattooer, continues to inspire me with her incredibly chill but powerful existence. I describe her as the 4 elements all in one. Water, Air, Fire, and Earth. Absolutely magical being! Just the way she’s so open to learning and loving new cultures. Suki Lune, the lil firecracker! Insane confidence in her work. She knows exactly what she wants to achieve with her work and style. I’ve only mentioned tattooers but it’s not really about the fact they do great tattoos, it’s the work ethic, charisma and way my peers carry themselves through life. I love being able to witness that first hand! We all grow together. That’s special! Overall I’d say I’m easily inspired. Lucky me!
You’re also the owner of Vaporwave Tattoo in London. Why was opening your own studio important to you? How has it supported your growth as an artist?
It was important because I wanted to create a safe space that allowed female artists to flourish and feel comfortable without the distractions of all the ego and drama that usually comes with working in a tattoo studio. It’s hard work being a female in such a male-dominated industry. The hardships definitely ignited a fire in my belly to push through that stereotype and helped me develop my voice and my art. I used to be very shy and it forced me to open my mouth and speak up. Vaporwave is just me making noise! I also wanted to create a service that was calming, welcoming and special for each client. Tattooing is about having a good experience as well as leaving with a tattoo you really love.
I love that you don’t want to be known as “just a tattooer”. Beyond tattooing, what do you love? What do you wish you had more time for?
I love learning new stuff in general. I go to the gym often and train which helps me refocus and keeps me fit. Interior design is one of my first loves, watching my Dad doing up properties. We actually both did up the studio together! I rewired all the lighting, laid the flooring, painted the walls, hung all the wall art, shelves, etc...I’ve been crowned the DIY Queen so if you ever need a handy woman.. haha I love gaming! Which definitely influenced my studio aesthetic. Music also has my heart...I’d love to make music sometime soon. Acting! I’ve also been crowned a drama queen so hopefully, that will come in handy! I love nature! Plants teach me how to nurture people, figuring out their wants/needs to flourish. I won’t get into that now though! haha, Quite a contrast. I just wish I had more time for all of the above!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received and what is the best advice you feel you can give?
I’ve received a lot of good advice. Someone recently told me “Tomorrow will always be better.” Short and sweet! Looking forward to a brighter tomorrow is always a perfect reminder when you’re feeling down.
If I could share some advice with the world, it is, “Do everything with love. Put your whole heart into the things you are passionate about and don’t worry about failing because the way that thing makes you feel in that very moment is more important than succeeding at it.”
Do you have any projects, collabs, travel plans, etc. planned for 2020 that you’d like to share?
Well at the moment we are looking for one more gal to join the team at Vaporwave Tattoo. That’s exciting as the studio dynamic changes when someone leaves and someone new comes in. We’ve also got some sick merch coming soon which I’ve been cooking up! I have no tattoo travel plans as of yet, mainly because traveling with tattoo equipment is stressful! But I’m just genuinely excited about the unknown so I guess we’ll have to wait and see!