//Jordan Jasinski tattooing a client at Urban Element Tattoo in Denver on Feb. 6. Photo by Madison Lauterbach | email@example.com
The secret to success in the tattoo business? Paying your dues. It’s a creed that Jordan Jasinski swears by. There is no shortcut for hard work, and the only way to pay those dues is through an apprenticeship.
“You are expected to do anything and everything asked of you, which is usually going and getting lunch for people, running errands, setting up and tearing down stations,” Jasinski said. “Sometimes for all the artists at the shop, sometimes just for the mentor.”
Jasinski said it’s not uncommon to work for free while apprenticing. Hundred-hour weeks are typical, split between apprenticing and making ends meet. Succeeding as a woman in the industry comes with an extra set of hurdles to clear. The grueling entry to the world of tattooing only proves one thing, and that is how exceptional Jasinski’s drive to succeed is.
Today, she works at an Urban Element Tattoo in the River North art district, with a shop owner she believes in. Although the owner lives in California, he flies back and forth every week to come tattoo in Denver. Jasinski works booth rent at the shop, meaning that she pays the owner a certain amount of money each month for a spot in the shop. In exchange though, she is able to come and go as she pleases and bring her own clientele in. This allows her the flexibility to pursue her other passions.
“The shop owner is amazing. It’s very hard in this industry to find a shop owner who not only isn’t a total piece of crap person but also genuinely cares about every single artist he has,” she said.
The shop’s lease is ending soon. Jasinsky said they wanted a new location, so it’s moving to a new place on South Broadway.
Jasinski’s path to tattooing wasn’t straightforward. She was fascinated with tattoos even as a middle schooler. As an artistic child, she drew a lot, even winning a few awards for it. In high school, her path diverged. She was editor in chief of her school’s yearbook. In college, she studied psychology.
However, the draw to become a tattoo artist never left her. Halfway through her degree program, Jasinski decided to rededicate herself to the art. It took her two years to find an apprenticeship with an artist that would take her on.
It was an arduous journey to the storefront in RiNo. Aside from the extraordinary demands placed on apprentices, Jasinski also had to face pressures from an industry not traditionally friendly to female aspirants. Her mentor didn’t teach her much. She was only taught the basics so her mentor could profit off walk-in clients without having to do the work. Once Jasinski started to improve, he stopped teaching her things so she wouldn’t surpass him.
“At the end of my time there, he ended up stealing all of my equipment. Everything I owned for tattooing,” she said.
Jasinski lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment. It took her six months to replace the stolen items and begin tattooing again.
And that experience wasn’t unique. At other shops, she’s faced forms of harassment such as another artist hiding her portfolio from her, or having photos of her work deleted off a shop website.
Today, the tattoo industry has changed somewhat. However, despite the fact that the tattoo industry in Denver has gotten better in its treatment toward women, the field is still dominated by men. It’s not often a circumstance that leads to a welcoming environment for women.
Despite that, Jasinski still enjoys what she does. It’s her career. She also loves the relationships that she’s created with her clients. A lot of them have become her friends. And fortunately, Jasinski is also not a person short on imagination or drive.
Although being a tattoo artist is her primary job, she is also an online health coach. She helps people reach their goals, which can be weight loss, gaining muscle or maintaining weight. Jasinski also works with 1st Phorm, a nutrition supplement company. Entering the fitness space is like being an apprentice for tattooing again. She has to take around a hundred hours of online training courses through 1st Phorm, in addition to setting up her fitness business. But, it’s something she enjoys.
“It’s great doing something that’s bigger than myself, helping other people reach their goals,” she said. “I’m still on my fitness journey. I’ve come such a long way, and it’s really cool to see other people get success and make progress.”
Jasinski started her journey into the fitness world in November. She hopes it will become more permanent in the future. Jasinski isn’t leaving tattooing behind, she plans to do it on the side, but her goal is to have both jobs flip-flop on which is her primary source of income.
Aside from working on both tattooing and fitness, Jasinski works with Ink’d Soul, a group of tattoo artists for whom mental health is an important issue. Jasinski lost five people to suicide in high school, which she attributes as the reason why she chose psychology as a major in university. She also worked with a nonprofit called To Write Love on Her Arms, which is dedicated to preventing suicide.
Herbalism is another thing that Jasinski enjoys.
“The fitness thing found me. I had just gotten my certification to be an herbalist,” she said. “I was maybe wanting to do something with that venture later down the line. But that’s on hold right now, because I’m working a hundred hours a week with everything else.”
Despite that, she still finds it interesting because the nutritional and healing aspects of herbalism go hand in hand with fitness. Someday, she hopes to have an herbal garden and produce things like healing tinctures and salves.
Tattooing is a difficult industry to get into. However, Jasinski has advice for future tattoo artists. First, look for a traditional apprenticeship. She says it’s the only true way to prepare aspiring artists for the industry. It’s supposed to be hard, she said. It weeds out those who are serious about their craft from those who aren’t. Expect to work 50 plus hours a week, draw constantly and not touching a machine for a long time.
And aside from having confidence in your portfolio as an artist, Jasinsky has one more piece of advice.
“As a female tattooer, you’re still going to get disrespect somewhere,” she said. “You’re still going to get people claiming you only get business because you’re a woman, that’s just going to happen no matter what. Just be aware of that. Have a thick skin so that it doesn’t break you.”
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