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Tattoo Artist Jesse Vickers Talks Conventions and Family Values

Jesse Vickers tattooing with blue PainfulPleasures overlay


Dan Lorenzo: We first met at a convention in Detroit. Conventions cost money to go to with booth costs and hotels and sometimes air travel. For artists who say, "F--- that. I'd rather just work in my shop," tell them what they are missing out on.

Jesse Vickers: Yes, we did!! I remember that show well, and I think to answer the question, it’s exactly that — networking! Meeting people in the industry and making lifelong friendships is, in my opinion, the best thing about conventions. I also have always been so inspired by watching other artists at the conventions, and seeing new styles, techniques, and products to push your work and motivation is priceless.


Game of Thrones flag tattoo by Jesse Vickers


When your shop opened back up after the COVID shutdown, you were busy right away, right? It's not like people were afraid to come into your shop, right?

We had a pretty hectic reopening because, due to the shut-down, I had to reschedule over forty clients and had nowhere to put them because I had to continue working on my people who were scheduled. Luckily, I have a great assistant, Brittany, who was able to navigate all that for me. We did have some people who were afraid to come in due to their personal health risks which gave us spots to put the people in that were rescheduled. It’s still being worked on, but we have almost everyone back in the schedule. So yeah, it was immediately busy and we had so many people calling wanting to get in and get tattooed. I think people understand that most tattoo shops are very clean and artists have the best practices for health and safety at the forefront of their minds all the time!


What did you do during the shutdown?

I spent a lot of time with my beautiful wife and kids! A lot of the other local tattoo studio owners and I met with our health department every other week during the shut down just to try to work on plans for reopening and risk mitigation. I stressed a lot as well [laughs].  Painted a little.


Captain Marvel tattoo in color by Jesse Vickers


Did the shutdown change you in any way?

Absolutely! I think after years of tattooing, you begin to take things for granted. Not being able to do what I love really hit me hard and made me focus on bettering myself as a person and especially as a father. Even after going back to work I am making more time for my kids after work and valuing my days off with them and my wife so much more, but also realizing that being at work is something that I don’t just use for income. I use tattooing to recharge my soul. 


Thinking back to when you were coming up in the tattoo business, is there anything you wish you realized or learned sooner with regards to tattooing?

I wish I would have started doing conventions sooner. I think I would have made a lot more industry connections earlier on and had more opportunities for traveling.


Black and grey realism portrait of woman with keyhole in brow by artist Jesse Vickers


What does your set up look like now?

I am obsessed with my Hard Life rotaries gambler machines and my HL battery packs!!! The freedom from cords is so nice! Always a fan of Peak cartridge needles — they are super consistent!  Love Electrum for multiple products, their stencil primer, the skin prep, and of course the cleanseSaniderm is my favorite way to heal!!  I recently started using World Famous inks and am really digging the consistency of them and how they look healed.



Check out more work by Jesse Vickers on Instagram, @jessevickerstattoos.

Black and grey mamba snake tattoo by Jesse Vickers