Jenna is a 24 year old Leo-Virgo cusp creative currently located in Oklahoma City! She dabbles in nearly every form of art and most recently has taken up tattooing and shared some of her thoughts with us!
When did you first get "into" art?
Oh, goodness, let’s see.. art has always been a huge part of my life since my earliest memories, but I did not take any art classes until I was a sophomore in high school. I jumped into my brother’s art class after seeing the beautiful work he was doing. I didn’t get serious about drawing, though, until my graphic design foundations classes in college.
Biggest inspirations? (In art and just in life)
The artist I look up to the most is my dad’s mother. I never had the privilege of doing life with her, unfortunately, as she passed away when I was a baby, but I have always been inspired ever since I was a child by her huge paintings that line the walls of my parent’s house. To this day, I can—and will—zone out for a while whilst staring at the colors of these mesmerizing landscapes…
My mom is my second biggest inspiration and my biggest supporter. She taught me QUITE a few things, but, namely the art of writing, which, may very well be my most favorite form of art; tattooing running a very close second. Funny I should say this, because English is both my best and worst subject… how is that possible, you ask? Let me put it this way… I had to take a grammar placement test in order to take an advanced writing class in high school and I bombed it so hard that my mom had to tell the teacher something along the lines of, “I promise she’s not an idiot! She may not know most grammar terms, she may not know how to diagram a sentence… but she can write papers. Please, just give her a chance.” (spoiler alert: she ended up graciously letting me into the class — thanks, mom!).
Alright, now for my third inspiration! That would have to be my dad. The sound of an electric saw, the salty taste of sunflower seeds, and the sweet woodsy smell of a freshly constructed building is home to me because of him. He designed and built our home. He’s the reason I have a deep love of road trips, blasting music in the car with the windows down, and anything having to do with New Mexico (that’s where he grew up). He taught me what it looks like to fear God and surrender to Him everything I hold most dear in life. He taught me my work ethic of doing (let’s be honest, cleaning) something correctly the first time so as to not have to redo it another time. My parents are the two strongest people I know.
My fourth inspiration(s) are collectively my four incredibly talented older siblings. They played a huge part in shaping me into the person I am today and introduced me to some of my most favorite things in life. My oldest sibling, my Sarah flavored sister, is where I get my love of baking and cooking. My second oldest sibling, my Katelyn flavored sister, is where I get my love of photography. My third oldest sibling, my Jesse flavored sister, is where I get my love of reading and writing poetry. My fourth oldest sibling, my Jake flavored brother, is where I get my love and taste of music and comedy.
I feel weird only mentioning these specific things about each of them, because, truthfully, this merely scratches the surface. I could mention so many other things and several other family members, but, this is an interview not a memoir… so I’ll keep it short.
When did you start tattooing?
So, before I answer this question, I must preface: I am not a “scratcher” anymore. I have decided recently that I want to get serious about earning a tattoo certification so I can have a real tattoo career and actually be able to make a living from this beautiful medium I love the most. I also have never tattooed anyone with a machine before, not even myself. I respect this craft and understand there are many risks involved, so I have taken very necessary precautions. I wore gloves, I used professionally sterilized disposable tattoo needles, ink made specifically for skin, and soap that doctors trust to be used in hospitals.
Now I will answer the question :)
Funny enough, it was actually 2 years ago today (today is June 6th, 2019) that I decided I wanted to teach myself how to do stick & poke tattoos. I remember I was on a road trip with my Jesse flavored sister and our Monica flavored roommate. My gosh, if you ever get the chance to see Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming.. you 100% will not regret any of it. Anyway, I digress. Tattoos. I had messaged a friend of a friend inquiring about whether or not she still gave S&P’s but then quickly realized I could just look up a YouTube tutorial and do it myself. I liked that option so much better because that meant I could tattoo myself and my best friend for free! I spent a lot of time on my phone anyway on that trip as I wasn’t of age to drive our rental car, so I was starved for entertainment at the time and ended up coming across this country dude’s channel where he explained the S&P process, wiped down his bedside table and equipment with alcohol, spoke very seriously on the dangers of using unsterilized and/or recycled needles, then put a dip in and went to town on tattooing his own arm for the umpteenth time in his dimly lit bedroom. Haha. Coolest dude ever.
What's your favorite tattoo that you've received?
That would definitely be my first one: my big floral forearm piece. It was done by the sweet and incredibly talented Lauren Freeman of Golden and True studio. She is so well known around the OKC area that I have had countless people point to my forearm and ask, “is that a Lauren Freeman?” And that is precisely why I chose her to give me my first tattoo. Her style was one I had never seen before and admired greatly. My appointment with her (several years ago) ended up being (I’m pretty sure) her first one in the shop she worked at having just finished her apprenticeship! That being said, she was extremely busy that week, what with getting the shop ready to go, so I wasn’t able to see her design until the day of the appointment. She was very quick to apologize for that, because normally she would have shown me at least a couple of days prior, but I honestly wasn’t worried about it. I knew that whatever she drew up would be incredible. She could have been like, “Hey, I know you said you liked flowers, but I decided to draw a tractor instead” and I would have been like, “Dope, let’s do it.” Woulda been the prettiest dang tractor I’ve ever seen.
What do you hope your future with tattooing is?
Whether I own my own shop someday or work at someone else’s, I want to offer both machine tattoos and stick & poke. I want to make it a priority to learn more on the psychology of pain and trauma (I’m actually going to go back to school to get a degree in psychology for that purpose—eep!) so that, hopefully, no matter how low of a pain tolerance you have, or no matter how bad your phobia of needles is, if you want a tattoo, we will make it happen together. I also plan on offering free coverups or alterations on any type of tattoo someone was forced into getting in prison. And cheap coverups or alterations on tattoos people just straight up raaaagret getting. If dumb mindsets can change then why shouldn’t dumb tattoos?
What art forms do you enjoy outside of tattooing?
SO MANY. Uhhhh... a few are:
— Writing, most definitely. But you know that already. Hmm..
— I used to take pieces of wood and carve designs into them with a dremel tool! I would stain the wood and draw and paint on them as well.
— I very much enjoy baking cakes. I never follow recipes on how much flavor they call for tho. It’s never enough.
— My sister-in-law just recently taught me how to embroider and it is more fun than I ever thought it would be.
— I’ve always taken a lot of pictures ever since I was a kid. I think I ended up destroying two perfectly good digital cameras that were gifted to me… three cameras, actually. Dang. One was my dad’s. Oops.
— I really enjoy singing. I don’t sing on the spot, but if you’ve ever lived or worked with me, chances are, you’ve heard me sing.
— Love working with chalk markers and also colored pencils + markers!
— Loooove doing latte art. That took forever for me to learn.
— I do digital paintings mostly and dabble a little with physical paint!
What's your favorite tattoo that you've given someone?
That’s gotta be Benji’s band around his arm. Funny story. He asked me if I could do it one day and I immediately said, “Heck yeah, I can do that!” but I didn’t actually know how the crap I was going to do it… I’ve heard bands are tricky to place in a way that won’t look wonky. And I was about to freehand this… Thankfully, 15 minutes before he got to my house, I saw a rubber band. Boom, that’s it. I put the rubber band on and asked him to turn his arm all around and see if he liked how it looked, then I just traced it and we were ready to roll. Took us 3 sessions to finish that bad boy. Probably a total of about 9 hours. My favorite part about it is that one of the edges isn’t quite crisp… so you can tell it’s been poked!
Most painful tattoo you’ve received?
Ugh, the stick & pokes Alex did on my fingers were brutal. I remember him finishing one and then asking if I wanted him to touch up the others and I said, “You get away from me.”
Is there a way you mentally prepare yourself to give a tattoo?
Nah, I would just try to help prepare them as much as I could. It was an awkward situation to be in at first, causing people constant physical pain, but I reminded myself that they knew what they were getting into and they knew that I would stop if they wanted me to
.Do you think that tattoos have to have a "meaning" behind them?
Not necessarily. It’s personal preference, in my opinion. I’ve gotten a couple tattoos that mean something to me but most of my tattoos are just things I wanted on my body simply because I just liked them.
When you were younger did you ever imagine that you'd be tattoo apprenticing?
Well, fingers crossed I get an apprenticeship. But, no. Never. Still hard (exciting tho) for me to imagine.
What would you say to someone who is holding back and not doing art because they're afraid?
I would offer them reassurance that they aren’t alone in their fears and never will be. I would ask them, if they are ready and willing, to take a closer look at the root of those fears. It could be a number of things, like the very real fear of rejection. It is terrifying sharing your art with the world, or even sometimes just friends or family. You’re voluntarily making yourself vulnerable in front of others and inviting them in to sneak a peak into your heart and soul. People who do not identify themselves as creative in the artistically expressive sense of the word do not always understand this concept in the same way and that is okay. What is not okay is letting ourselves as artists (as people in general, really) be discouraged by mere misunderstandings. Rejection means to refuse something, it does not mean to misunderstand. If someone does not like your art, they are not saying they don’t like you, they are just sharing their opinion on the product they see in front of them.
My biggest fear that holds me back is failure. If that is true for you, remember that you will always be both your best and worst critic. I say that to hopefully be an encouragement. When you look at something you’ve created and you think it sucks… that just says to me that you have better taste and it’s simply not up to your own personal standards. That is not the time to quit, friend, that is the time to utilize your resources and learn how to get better (if you want to get better). I did not start out being able to draw well, y’all. I had to learn different techniques and practice them over and over. I would show you some of my earlier drawings I hate the most but I straight up tore them up. I regret doing that now. I’d love to show you them in hopes that it might lend you comfort. In regards to being your worst critic, on the other hand… when you are frustrated that something you created did not turn out exactly as you pictured it, keep in mind that nobody else knows (or cares, honestly) what it was originally supposed to look like. They just see what is in front of them. And that something probably looks just fine. Great, in fact.
Honestly, I think it’s important to be afraid of things. But keep in mind that the opposite of fear is anger. I tore those first drawings up in anger because I was afraid I had failed. I was literally rejecting my own self for not being perfect at something I knew very little about. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? My biggest piece of advice I have for you is to be more patient with yourself, more understanding and aware of your own limits and to not misinterpret those limits as failures but instead as opportunities for growth.
Fear is inevitable and she has enough strength to either defeat you or motivate you and you are the only one she’s asking, “So what’s it gonna be?”
you can keep up with jenna on instagram @jswanderulo and on twitter @twooshmeister
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