I interviewed with Jes Strickler of Blackwater Tattoo located at 750 Grand Ave, Schofield, Wisconsin, 54476. His new website is http://www.tattoosbyjes.com or www,facebook.com/tattoosbyjes. They are open Monday-Friday 12-8 and Saturday by appointment only. He is usually booked out 2-3 weeks, so he rarely will do walk-ins.
He got interested in tattoos when he was working in a warehouse, when he was 12 years old(under the table, and thanks to his dad!!). Anyways there was this guy named named Kevin who worked in shipping, and Jes thought he was the coolest dude that he ever met. He had a huge bright orange mo-hawk with a skull tattoo on the side of his head, full sleeves, and total punk rock!! Well, Jes went home one night and told his mom that he was gonna have tattoos all over his body. “The heck you are young man!”,his mom said (My mom says I have to wait until I am 18). Needless to say she believes him now! He finally decided to do it for a living after him and a friend had been throwing around the idea of learning to tattoo, he had done a few already (He said they were badly done, hahaha) they both had a bunch and both had some talent in the drawing department so they went for it. A friend of theirs hooked them up with this scratch-er (aka someone who tattoos out of their house) who opened a shop, they got jobs there, he was an apprentice for a couple of weeks. Then they gave him a machine and said pull straight lines and color in circles. He knew this was not a good way to learn, but it got his foot in the door. After about 9 months of working a full-time job, and at the tattoo shop he made the jump and haven’t looked back since.
Well, he didn’t learn any good techniques until he got tattooed by Jime’ Litwalk. Jes told him that he wanted a picture of his daughter and Jime’ looked at him like he crazy, like Jes was asking for a portrait. Jes picked his brain the whole time Jime’ tattooed him. He really changed the way that he looked at his own career. When he got back to town from the convention in Florida, Jes went over to the best artist in town and told him that he wasn’t learning stuff were he was, and could he sit down and watch him tattoo. He was still currently working with this man (who said Yes). His name is Jim Stevens, he is probably who Jes learned the most from.
He lives in Northern Wisconsin, so people still think it’s cool to get tribal and barbwire. Well pretty much he’s town is still suck in the 90’s. The best part is he has a ton of cool clients who listen to his input and really good friends who let him do what he wants with their ideas. He would say the stuff he likes doing most is Neo-Traditional or whatever they are calling it these days, Old skool ideas with new skool design and color.
He says to don’t start using big words on him now.
(I didn’t think I put any in the questions)
He would have to say a lot of other tattoo artists, everybody in the business is pushing themselves to new levels and he wants to be a part of that awesomeness that is going around.
He just recently switched to using a liner tattoo machine (Neo-Tat), he really likes the low maintenance and consistency that it has. He also, just did his first color portrait, which turned out amazing. As far as techniques or supplies, he is always trying new stuff to see what works the best.
The only tattoo that he won’t do is if someone brings him some horrible drawing and wants exactly that, he always tries to put his own style on things, so unless its some realism from a photograph, please let him redraw your awesome sketch.
He has a lot of work from tattoo artists. The guys he works with do a lot of them. The whole reason why he got into this was because he loves to get them. He probably gets tattooed at least once a month. Actually he just got 4 in the last 2 weeks. He has been tattooed by Joe Capobianco, Jime’ Litwalk, Josh Woods, Sean Herman, Taylor Cort, Brandon Bond, Justin Weatherholz, Big AL, Cool-aid, Mark Van Ness, Bunny, Kevin Starai, Jim Stevens, Jon Lafave, his daughter (AWESOME!), and a few others. He is running out of room fast and still wants to get tattooed by a whole bunch of other people.
He would have to say what he likes most is making cool new friends, wither it would be clients or other tattoo artists. What he hates is the arrogance, he is sure that I have met a couple of the guys, who either aren’t good and think they’re awesome or are awesome and won’t even talk to me (I have, my mom said they are just Haters!). Mainly because all the hype that people make them out to be. (My Mom and Joe always tell me to stay Humble, maybe these people should try it.)
He has some already, good friends who get cool tattoos and let him do them however he wants, but he prefers some pale white skin if he/she has it. Quit tanning ladies he says!!!
He really only draws the tattoos he is gonna do and maybe some for a convention, he just picked up some oil paints, and some water color stuff, so he is gonna try some new stuff soon. He never really has any formal art training, he wishes he would have though. There are some people out there who has such a grasp on how to go about a painting or light sources, contrast etc., he really looks up to those people who know their stuff.
He actually does a lot, he has a 6 year old daughter named Kaiden who he hangs out with all the time. They both like being outdoors and being active. She plays soccer and takes karate, he plays softball, volleyball, and loves going mountain biking. They both love music so he is always going to show,he just saw Social D for the first time last weekend. They both love being in or out of the water, too.
I had the chance to meet Jes in Miami at a Convention, Not only is he super nice (not a hater) he is a good dad, he had a Justin Beavers shirt on he bought with his daughter!!
Please check out his stuff and get tattooed!!!!