Her love for creating texture, shape and shadows by using lines shines through in her masterful linework tattoos. Introducing Jade Alexandra as our featured Tattoo Artist.
Brought to you by Zappa.
Full name: Jade Alexandra
Shop: The Black Lodge
Years tattooing: 3 years
Tattoo style: Blackwork, linework
Hourly rate: R1200 p/hr
Tell us about you journey into becoming a full time tattoo artist?
My journey into the tattoo world began while I was working as a body painter and special FX makeup artist. I was hired by Fallen Heroes to do a live, full body paint during a launch party of their’s, and got to meet and mingle with some incredible artists. On seeing my work, I was lucky enough to be offered an apprenticeship under Thys Uys, and the rest is kind of history.
After completing my apprenticeship while still working part time in the SFX industry, I found my home and The Black Lodge, and I have never looked back.
What about the industry drives your passion?
Tattooing is hard, like really f*cking hard. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve learned to do in my life so far, and I’ve barely dipped my toe in yet – that’s what I love most about it. You have to work hard and be consistent if you want to grow and get better, so it’s brought a sense discipline to my life, and the way I approach my art.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Well, considering I’ve only been doing this for 5 minutes, I think everything has been a highlight for me so far [laughs]. I’d say I’m still a baby tattooer in the grand scheme of things, so everything I’ve experienced in the last 3 years has been new, fun and exciting.
That all being said, I was so proud and privileged to be able to attend and work my first tattoo convention last year, where I met and made friends with so many amazing people.
There is just something about a room full of crazy, delinquent artists that makes me feel right at home.
How would you best describe the experience of working out of The Black Lodge?
See above last sentence [laughs]. Working at The Black Lodge has been the most pivotal experience of my life. Sounds pretty dramatic I know, but seriously. Clients and artists alike will tell you that there is something fucking magical about the Lodge, and sharing in that has really catalysed my personal and artistic growth. I have the utmost reverence and love for Sean and Tamian Perrins (our shop parents) who have created an environment where we can truly be our idiotic selves, and I owe everything I am as an artist so far, to every single one of the exceptional artists I am lucky enough to to work with every day. But, it’s also mostly just a bunch of daily dick jokes and arguments about what music to listen to.
Which local and international artists inspire you, and why?
Oh god there are so many to list here, I really have been inspired in one way or another by just about everyone around me.
Rocio Todisco has been a big local one for me, though she works in a very different style than I do, she has taught be so much in terms of technical application and is endlessly inspiring in her work ethic, concept development, epic tattoos and undying passion for art.
But our local pool for inspiration is endless, with people like Tamar Thorn, Sean (sharplines) Smuts, Taryn the Tattooist, Raoul Goetze, Twigggzy Tattoos, Ling (Candi) Vombot, Byron Barker, Bea Lea, Callum (MooseTattooArt), Ze Simoes, Devon (TighRopeThomas) etc, who all inspire me for so many different reasons. There are too many to name!
Some international artists I like to follow are Sara Rosa, Lydia Madrid, Esme Barker, Sam Rulz, Yvonne Kang, Fredao Oliveira, Daniel Teixeira, all for their amazing linework and balanced use of black.
What was your defining moment when you realised this is what you wanted to do for a living?
I’ve always loved tattoos and have been love-drunk over the idea of doing this since I was about 15. I think the defining and solidifying moment must have been when I did a body painting job for SA Fashion Week – I was hired to paint some fake tattoos onto the runway models and all I remember feeling was total dissatisfaction. I realised that there is no other medium quite like tattooing, it feels like the perfect language for my artistic expression. So I’ve pretty much just looked at tattooing through a lovey-heart filled, rose tinted Instagram filter ever since.
When not working or tattooing, what do you like to do with your downtime?
‘Downtime’ has become a strangely abstract concept in the hurricane of 2020, I’ve feel like I’ve had a lot, and also none of it all at the same time [laughs].
Through lockdown and the odd day off since, I’ve found a love for all things green and growing. So I spend most of my time tending to my indoor jungle, and learning everything I can about indigenous plants. I’m hoping to do a degree in botany for my personal fulfilment sometime in the future.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most and why?
I love anything and everything linework based. I do a fair amount of blackwork and I love using lines to create texture, shape and shadows. There is something about the style that reminds me of geographical relief maps, and I just think that’s a cool way of building an image for the audience.
If you could tattoo any historic figure, who would it be and why?
As much as I’ll probably get socially shredded for this, I’d have to say Amy Winehouse, and the reason is simple and selfish; I f*cking love her.
I think she had the potential to be one of the best jazz vocalists of our time and I’d probably go into cardiac arrest if I got to hear her sing in person. She was also someone who had a massive aversion to public fame, which is something I can relate to, and was the first severe example of how the media can destroy an artist soul. I learned a lot through the story of her life, and try to maintain a strong metaphysical separation between me, and my media representation. Plus, I reckon she would get something awesome tattooed.
Where do you see your career taking you?
Hopefully all over the world. For me, a huge part of the creative process is in the experience. I think my art is less about my expression of self, and more about my perception of what’s going around me, so I’m really hungry to fill up the ‘experience tank’ so that I can use it to navigate how I create in the future. Tattooing is something that is loved and respected the world over, so I would be eternally happy and grateful to be able to travel with my craft.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I think, just like anything, it’s all about practice. Though I’m not always the best example of undying dedication to homework, I’ve realised that the only way to get good at something is to do it all the damn time. I try to draw and flex the creative muscle as much as I possibly can. But I also analyse every piece that I make everyday, so that I’m always aware of the areas that need improvement.
For anyone wanting to book and appointment with you, what’s the next step?
If you’d like to book an appointment you can mail our favourite and always smiling booking manager, George, at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will set you up with your consult and appointment, and will probably throw in a dad joke or two if you’re nice.
Tattoos By Jade Alexandra
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.