By Phil Lacombe
Name: Jay’e Jones
Where you tat: Strata Tattoo Lab, owner & tattoo artist
Why you started tattooing: Tattooing sort of discovered me by accident. At the ripe old age of 16, I had graduated high school and began attending college. I majored in English, and had every intention of becoming a teacher- (as the majority of my family had done before me). To help pay for school, I participated in art shows (selling paintings) and executing commission work such as murals and portraits. Two years later, I returned to Southern California for summer break, and befriended the owners of Thee Ink Cup in Joshua Tree (now retired). I shared my portfolio with the owner, Rick Reyes, who insisted I try tattooing. It took some convincing, but I eventually transferred schools, and began my apprenticeship. Low and behold, what I had initially conceived to be a mere “hobby,” ended up as a lifelong passion (and occupation)!
What style of tattooing do you enjoy the most: I generally enjoy tattooing anything full of color. I particularly enjoy subject matter that goes against the grain of traditional tattooing: tattoos that look more like a painting, or a pen and ink drawing versus an actual tattoo.
Who inspires you to tattoo: I’m inspired by so many! My mother, grandmother, and grandfather are/were phenomenal artists!! My father, inspires/advises my business side, (I have owned Strata Tattoo Lab since 2008). Other inspiring artists include: Frida Kahlo, Manet, Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, Matisse, Salvador Dali, Paul Gauguin, Jacques-Louis David and Georgia O’Keeffe. I am also inspired by many talented tattoo artists, some of which I am lucky enough to work with: Dave Hopkins, Akos Strenner and Esther Rojo!
If you could tattoo anywhere in the world where would you go: As I have already tattooed all over north and central America, I think a break from the convention circuit would be nice….maybe travel to Europe for a few months and work/visit with my friends who tattoo there. Until that happens, I’ll continue to house our insanely talented guest artists from all over the world at my shop…if I can’t go there, then I’ll bring them here!
Tell me your favorite tattoo story about one of your clients: There is one client I will never forget. She was the sweetest little lady, (easily in her 80’s) and had come in for her first tattoo. She wanted a permanent rendition of a penny on her arm. As I was tattooing her, I asked her what had inspired such an idea. She then began to illustrate her time as a mother, and how she and her son had always enjoyed the simple pleasure of picking up pennies and saving them together. Sadly, she outlived her son, and some of his last words to her were “Don’t stop picking up those pennies, we’ll always have that together.”Somewhat paraphrased, but you get the idea. Tearing up yet? I was. That aside, she collected every penny she found, and eventually used the money to pay for her and her husband to go on a cruise!! Touches the heart, right? I love my job!!