Sunday, April 5, 2009


Apprenticed under:
Klem, but Ross Vinstein, Dan Wysuph, Adam Barton and Edu Cerro have been a influence

Shops: True Art Tattoo as the shop guy and after that tattooer in Samuel O'Reilly's Tattoo Parlour

This is a blog post about Jason Anderson. A tattoo artists from Santa Cruz who started tattooing in March 2007, after a two year apprenticeship.

In truth, Jason's tattoo initiation started well before he knew he was going to start tattooing. Really big turning point was when Jason was about 20 and his friend Ross Vinstein, who was apprenticing under
Greg James at Sunset Strip Tattoo, instilled him the importance of an apprenticeship and discouraged him from building a crappy machine and butchering his friends. So, Jason waited and respected his friends insight. And like so many artist today he got tattooed like crazy. At True Art tattoo in Santa Cruz is where he met Klem and Dan Wysuph. Jason and the guys vibed really well together and had a lot in common. But Jason didn't want to be "that guy", so he didn't mention that he wanted to tattoo. He just kicked back, hang around and got even more tattoos. After kicking it old school, one day he got a call from Dan. Dan was about to start tattooing and they needed someone reliable to replace him as the shop guy, and that someone had to love tattooing and be a great all around guy. Que Jason Anderson.

Motherfucker, you just got chosen!

He started off easy, working few days a week, making needles and answering the phones. After 5-6 months into it he started as full time shop guy. This meant making even more needles in a busy as fuck street/custom shop (that's a lot of fucking needles!), stocking stations, cleaning the place up all the time and just being the scapegoat when shit went gore. Like when this guy came in who had obvious health problems. He went to the bathroom for 30 minutes. While in there, he shat himself and managed to get the shit all over the walls, the sink, fucking everywhere. Again; Que Jason Anderson. Being "in the shit" had a a new meaning. Literally. But still, after all this, shit, Jason was happy as fuck being in a great shop where everyone had his back and gave him a opportunity to see what tattooing is all about. Hes sting as the shop guy lasted for 2½ years and the possibility of becoming a tattoo artist arise when Professor Klem decided to look for a new shop.

Klem had a idea of opening up a new shop so he started to look around for a good spot for it. He decided to open it up at Westside of Santa Cruz because there wasn't any other tattoo shops there and he didn't want to step on any ones toes. Old-School, you know. The shop was named Samuel O'Reilly's Tattoo Parlour. Mister O'Reilly is the one who patented the first tattoo machine in the year 1891. (Which is the reason my blog has 1891 in its title) The shop was set up in a old two bedroom Craftmen style house from 1920s-30's, which used to be a eye doctors office. Jason was nervous about asking for the apprenticeship, so he talked to his friend Dan (Wysuph) first, who had just some time ago finished his apprenticeship (Dan started tattooing in March 6 in year 2004). Dan basically just said Just ask him you asshole! So he did. At the time Klem had been tattooing nearly 12 years and haven't even considered having a apprentice. But luckily, Jason had what it took.

Jason started to brake down and set up stations for Klem (Dan started in O'Reilly after it had been open about for a year), running his schedule and waiting list. Taking all the notes and tracing the designs for all of his appointments. Then he started painting his own flash sheets in watercolor and of course drawing in abundance. And the paintings and drawings had to be something that Jason really put his time into, because there was weekly critique nights where Klem and Dan along with Adam Barton and Edu Cerro (who both had started to work at the shop) all just went trough everything Jason had done that week, and took them apart both in good and bad. In-return Jason would critique their drawings and tattoos, which must have been scary as fuck, but it did teach him how to deal with customers tattoo requests because he analytically had to strip down everything and think what would work and what wouldn't. Training his mind for the blood war.

I have been following Jason's progress as an artists for a good while now. Couple of years almost. I loved the flash he did and was cool to see him post his first tattoos in myspace. I loved how it was evident that he also loved the history of tattooing. You know the almost mythical feeling that you have about some tattooers? Like they would be reliving the history right the in front of us. Jason has that spark. So, a while back I decided to ask him to do a interview with me. The answer he gave me solidified the feeling I had. He said I don't think I'm ready for something like that at this point. I don't know what you think, but in my mind that is like the golden ticket to becoming respected and great artists at some point.

What I have read other artists say about the legendary Scott Sylvia seem to fit Jason too. Jason has a humble approach to tattooing and the role he plays in it. It all comes down to hard work and dedication. Long nights just drawing and getting better. Focusing and doing research. Studying. Listening to your mentors and other artists. Compromising and non-compromising. Painting, drawing and eventually tattooing your ass off. Jason's first tattoo was done on Klem. A penguin drinking gin and smoking. A old flash poster from Amsterdam. And he also tattooed Dan that beautiful day of March 6, in the year 2007. Same day that Dan had started tattooing, just 3 years earlier. The circle was complete but the path had just begun. Jason knew he was part of the blood cult. And you don't break the oath. Pitch Black 1891. In for life.

And so we bleed.