Fineline tattooer Jing works in a private studio in the Arts District of Los Angeles, a hidden gem of a place where she has lots of plants and sunlight. Jing tells us her Chinese name is 静月 meaning peaceful moon, which fits beautifully with her private studio, a space she can focus on her designs in and work peacefully.
What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? How did you become an artist? To be honest, I never planned to become a tattoo artist. I became a tattoo artist by accident. In China, tattoos are still connected with gangs and gangsters, and I had negative opinions about them for this reason. It took me almost half a year to understand why people were getting tattoos. But I will share how I got from there to where I am today…
My uncle is an artist, specialising in oil painting. He has an art studio in Chengdu, China. I was his very first student when I was a little girl. After high school I got accepted by the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (中央美术学院) to study arts and design. During senior year, I went to Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) to study style and design. At that time, my dream was to become a visual merchandise designer or a UX designer.
One day while helping a friend shoot for a video, we went to a tattoo studio. At that time, my life was boring as I was preparing for the GRE exam. So I thought learning to tattoo could be a fun hobby. So I started my apprenticeship, and because of Instagram, I was lucky to have clients who supported me and helped me move to Los Angeles. Then luckily again, I met Eva Karabudak. She was a big inspiration for me, and she helped me to see the value of my work, and build a stronger technique.
Today, I study Chinese traditional painting and Chinese calligraphy. My goal is to bring traditional Chinese Arts into tattooing and integrate them.
How would you describe your work? Have you always tattooed like this? What drew you to this type of tattooing? I say the tattoo is my client’s “mark of the soul”. As a HSP (highly sensitive person), I can easily have connections with my clients, and help them to make their ideas come to life. Even though right now, during this crazy time, I can’t do consultations in-person. Even so I always spend hours talking with my clients and adjusting the designs with them.
I know perfection is impossible, but I always try to make my designs and tattoos as close to perfect as I can. I treat my clients with love from the bottom of my heart. That’s why I can’t tattoo too many people in a day, otherwise I would burn myself out.
For the style: from the beginning, I’ve done small fine line work. Now I would like to take those skills and tattoo more East Asian style arts, both colour and fine-line. I will say my master Pingguang Zhou 周平珖 helped me to step into the traditional Chinese art world. I paint with him every week, and this work draws me closer towards to this type of tattooing, and also the peaceful lifestyle of a Chinese artist. It guides me on my way to becoming a better artist and a better person.
Can you tell us about the process behind your tattooing? Actually, my tattoo process is really casual. That’s why I hope my clients are chill people. (Luckily almost all of them are chill and nice people!)
- Step 1: Clients fill the booking form from my website when I open booking.
- Step 2: After the appointment is confirmed, I will read their tattoo ideas before we meet. If they already have certain ideas, usually I will have the designs prepared for them. But sometimes, clients don’t have specific ideas, maybe either it’s their first tattoo, or they want too many elements in one small tattoo. Then I will talk with them in person first and design the tattoo with them.
- Step 3: I will wear my earphones and focus on tattooing. My rectangle tattoos usually take one to one and a half full days, depending on the placement, size and details of the design.
- Step 4: When the tattoo is fully healed, clients will give me feedback on how their skin took the ink. Because I do colour packing (which means each spot packed colour three to five times), most tattoos heal great. If there is any spot that didn’t heal great, I welcome them to come back for a free touch up session within a year.
What inspires your designs? East Asian culture is always my biggest inspiration, especially traditional Chinese painting (especially from Song Dynasty), Japanese Ukiyo-e, Jingdezhen porcelain, Dunhuang Murals etc.
What do you love to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? I like tattooing both fine-line and colours. For fine-line, I love tattooing Chinese meticulous line drawings. For colour tattoos, I love the rectangular designs with many details. I feel satisfied after seeing my client’s surprised face after their tattoo session. In the near future, I want to design and tattoo more shapes with Chinese paintings.
Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Are you a tattoo collector? I don’t have many tattoos yet. But all of them are important to me. My first one is by my friend @yuantattoodesign, it’s a moon. I got it during my apprenticeship, mostly because I wanted to experience the pain that I was causing to others when I tattoo them.
My second one is from @gloriatattoo. We tried nine machines on a two and a half inche fine-line tattoo. I used myself to test which machine was good for fine-line, the differences of pain levels and healing progress.
My third one is from my friend @ink_by_bae. I got it when I became a tattoo artist. During that time, I felt huge peer pressure and competition. So I got the tattoo to remind myself: “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.”
My fourth and fifth tattoos were made together from my friends @ink_by_bae and @frommay_tat: they’re a leaf branch and my grandma’s favourite flower, Japanese honeysuckle. She is the one who raised me, and I really miss her.
What is the tattoo scene like in L.A? How are women in the tattoo industry treated, how has your experience been? Los Angeles a city that’s very tolerant of different cultures and immigrants. I feel happy, safe, respected and blessed to work as a tattoo artist in this city. Most of my clients are women, so I feel lucky as a female tattoo artist. I can create really feminine designs, and also neither of us will feel awkward about sensitive body placement, like the chest. There are some times that I don’t feel safe to work late alone, but all in all, my experience is really great.
Make sure to follow Jing on Instagram for more beautiful fine line tattoos.