Jacob Gwynn Ajna Tattoo
This week we continue our International Artist Spotlight with Jacob Gwynn of Ajna Tattoo in Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia. Jacob Gwynn has only been tattooing for a short period of time but has developed into one of NSW top artists. Jacob has always been into art and his drawings / tattoos show his dedication to the lifestyle. We caught up with Jacob at Ajna Tattoo.
How long have you been tattooing?
I started tattooing professionally in January 2014. I apprenticed under Claire Reid at Ajna Tattoo until June 2014 and have worked alongside her at the studio since.
How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it? Any story behind it?
My first tattoo I would have been 17 years old. I walked into a biker tattoo shop in Te Awamutu, New Zealand and got Operation Ivy’s logo tattooed on my right shoulder. Operation Ivy was a ska punk band featuring Tim Armstrong from Rancid.
How did you first get into tattooing?
I first got into tattooing in Melbourne Australia, failing to find an apprenticeship in a shop I saw one of these infamous tattoo schools pop up in a local gig guide. I paid more money than I should have and attended classes once a week for a few months. One good thing about the course was that we all had to gain a health and safety certification to finish successfully. After finishing I bought some semi-decent equipment and started practicing on my friends every Saturday from home.
Did you do a traditional apprenticeship?
No, not a traditional apprenticeship, I feel I did most of my learning listening at a tattoo school, tattooing my friends and then working with Claire.
Tattooing in Australia has to be different than it is here in the States; how are tattoos perceived by the public?
It’s actually perceived fairly well here in Australia from what I’ve experienced myself so far. A lot of employers will still hire people with visible tattoos. I worked in Flight Centre’s head office in Melbourne with full sleeves and started getting my hand tattoos. Our creative director at the time wanted to get photos of my tattoos rather than disapprove. The older generation still has a stigma with it but times are changing and tattoos are getting better and better which people are slowly responding to in a positive way.
We read stories about certain hotels and restaurants banning visible tattoos under their “dress codes”; are these places common or far and few between?
These places are out there, I’ve seen them on the Gold Coast but they are few and far between. I’ve never seen them at all in Melbourne. I think it’s ridiculous and funny, we clearly spend a lot of money and they choose to turn it away.
From your online portfolio it appears you like to tattoo photo-realism; what drew you to this style? Any style to try to stay away from?
Yeah, I like realistic tattooing more than any other style. I guess it’s the artistic experience you need to have before starting to tattoo this style and the mind-blowing quality of the finished pieces that drew me to it. I’m not a fan of tattooing mandalas, dot work, script and really don’t like tattooing realism too small when clients request it. There’s just no room to get all that nice detail and color in.
How hard was it to move from web developer to tattooing?
The transition took just over a year’s worth of hard work. I was working 9-5 Mon-Fri doing web development and then tattooing my friends from home every Saturday and some Sundays. My full-time job gave me the money in the beginning to save and buy decent machines, equipment and furniture for tattooing as well as allowing me to attend a lot of conventions and seminars. I’ve listened to Jeff Gogue, Bob Tyrrell, Paul Booth, and Andrea Afferni speak about their methods, beginnings and inspiration. I also started traveling to Byron Bay and begun getting tattooed by Claire Reid at this stage.
What artist(s) have influenced you and your work over the years?
In the beginning, Jeff Gogue was my biggest inspiration. His color blending, use of dark/light and ability to mix different styles together is amazing. I found Claire Reid’s style to be similar to this but unique in its own way also. I now really like all the work being done at Ship Shape Tattoo in Orewa New Zealand by Matt Jordan, Steve Butcher and Hokowhitu Sciascia, the level of realism these guys produce is next level work. Other tattoo artists I follow regularly would be – Nikko Hurtado, Carlos Rojas, Phil Garcia, Steve Wimmer, Laura Juan, Q Tattoos, Teneile Napoli, Tattoos by Bumer, Tater Tatts and Emily Rose Murray.
If you could be tattooed by any artist who would it be and what would you get?
I’m planning with Matt Jordan at the moment to start my back in May 2015. I won’t let the cat out of the bag too early on this one, though. You’re gonna have to wait and see haha. I’d love to get tattooed by Carlos Rojas, I really like the portrait he did of Yvonne De Carlo. I’d get something like that.
Do you attend any tattoo shows or conventions? If so which are you planning to attend?
Yeah, I attend a lot of conventions in Australia and New Zealand. You can catch me at:January 9-11 2015 Surf n Ink, Gold Coast, Australia February 21-22 2015 International Tattoo and Art Expo, Waikato, New Zealand March 13-15 2015 Australian Tattoo and Body Art Expo, Sydney, Australia March 20-22 2015 Australian Tattoo Convention, Brisbane, Australia April 24-26 2015 Rites of Passage Festival, Melbourne, Australia I’d love to do conventions in the US sometime soon too!
The best way for someone to book an appointment with you?
The best way to get in contact about bookings or consultations would be to email me here, it may take a few days but I will get back to you.
So if you are in the NSW area or are going to be attending any of the tattoo conventions or shows listed above you owe it to yourself to check out Jacob Gwynn of Ajna Tattoo. Make sure to check out the image gallery below to see more of Jacob’s work both on and off the skin.~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴