For the love of art. Yayo interviews the astonishingly talented Jessie Foakes.
by Matt Haddon-Reichardt Collaborator on Mar 13, 2020
Yayo is blessed with having the world’s best tattooists using our products. Jessie Foakes is one of the best and uses the best; Jessie uses Yayo. We sent out Yayo blog boy Matt Haddon-Reichardt to meet Jessie and talk tattoos, art galleries and light bulbs.
“It’s pretty awesome being part of a little tight net group, being able to see other peoples artwork and also being involved in it,” enthuses Jessie as we sit down to indulge in coffee and cake.
“Yayo autumn is pretty delicious; I love the smell and using it as aftercare for my tattoos. I tend to use the prime mostly whilst tattooing as I don’t like mixing it up to much, I don’t know whether that just my OCD though! I love the smoothness of the butter, it doesn’t cause my tattoos to flare up and cause redness so I’m super chuffed with it.”
Jessie is a happy member of the Yayo family and she finds that Yayo’s products bring the best in her tattoos.
While many artists aggressively pursue getting a break into the industry Jessie became a tattooist almost by mistake.
“I actually fell into tattooing, I studied art at college but typically was a college dropout. I then just had a job at a bar and bits and bobs and that was me, then one night a friend and I was discussing dream jobs and mine was being a tattooist. Being a tattooed, I never thought I would become one it was just one of those “what if?” kind of moments. Anyway a few days later she then told me a friend of a friend was looking for a apprentice, so I thought sod it let’s go for it. I contacted my first boss, took in a bin liner of college drawings and somehow from then I bagged myself a 2 day trial. On the second day she handed me 2 outlines of roses and asked me to colour them; how I coloured them in is pretty much what got me the job.”
“I actually fell into tattooing."
Since graduating to professional status Jessie’s career has gone from strength to strength.
“We recently opened our own private studio in Essex it’s pretty awesome. I love hanging out with my clients and just solely focusing on that tattoo for the day. I do spend time in Australia every year for a few months as well as travelling wherever I can throughout the year. I think I have itchy feet; I can’t keep still for too long.
As I tuck into my double chocolate gateau I ask what it is that she loves so much about travel.
“I just love travelling, meeting all kinds of new artists that specialise in all kinds of different styles, you learn so much!”
In an industry dominated by colour realism portraits and Marvel superheroes Jessie’s style is pretty unique. I ask her if she put her style into words.
“I have had a few people ask me this; to be honest I have no idea. Some say abstract, others water colour, some say cubism, and it’s been described as graffiti,” She laughs.
“I have no idea; I just run amuck and see where we end up. My work is always changing; I love shapes and just seeing how it feels on the day. I can’t plan too much otherwise I end up wanting to change it, that probably why my stencils are so loose. I guess the weirder the better in my eyes. when I started my apprenticeship I thought I had to do traditional and boy I found it hard, it’s just not natural to me. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time getting tattooed in Europe where watching and taking in different techniques has really helped me. I’ve learnt there really is no rule in this industry you just have to not be afraid to try something a little different.”
Jessie really is at the top of her game yet like all great tattoo artists she is humble about her skills, talent and abilities.
“I’m nowhere near at the top of my game; I have so much to learn. You literally learn new things every day, with every tattoo what maybe you wouldn’t do in the next or what you would try again and maybe approach and adapt it differently. There are so many ideas I would love to try, I’ve learnt so much especially in the last couple of years. I feel like it’s all a bit of a fresh start at the moment.”
"I think I have itchy feet; I can’t keep still for too long."
Like many who are truly talented she has had her work ripped off by unscrupulous scratchers. While many artists become enraged by their work being copied, Jessie takes it all with a pinch of salt.
“Yeah for sure I’ve had my work copied, ripped off and stolen but hey what do we expect, some people are just a little lazy. If they do a good job then fair play to them, I just feel sorry for my client who has the original.”
Like many tattooists Jessie has artistic endeavours away from the needle.
“I love painting with pretty much anything I can use that in front of me. It’s hard balancing being creative and the day job. There are just not enough hours in the day to be able to do everything.”
I order another espresso and delve deeper into Jessie’s love of art.
“I love everything about art, everyone sees things so differently and that doesn’t mean everyone is going to agree with what you like. Arts is pretty much in everything and its everywhere. Just depends what you prefer. I love graffiti art and I really need to give it a go myself one day. I was obsessed with Banksy whilst growing up. Adnate is pretty awesome too; I love his big murals. I’ve loved Dali for the longest time because his art is just wild. There really are a number of tattooists that inspire me and they all do completely different styles so it’s hard to just pin point a couple.”
One of the biggest inspirations for the modern tattooist is cinema, particularly the franchises of Marvel, DC and Star Wars. Jessie isn’t part of the franchise crowd.
“I hardly go to the cinema to be honest. I get a little distracted in them unless it’s something pretty awesome but I do love a gallery. I probably don’t make enough time to go to more, maybe this year I'll be able to get to some shows!”
While most artists are content putting super heroes and Jedi Knights into people’s skin Jessie has a fondness for light bulbs.
“I mean I love anything odd like two things you would never put together, I would want to somehow try make it work. I love tattooing light bulbs; why? I actually just love the shapes! Think they are tiny little bits of awesomeness. I do love Japanese work so maybe I’ll try and push that this year and see if we can get some bigger projects in the pipeline. I also really want to try limiting my palette to just pinks and greens. If I could use pink all day then I would and green just compliments it so well! So why not try it. Who knows though I probably wouldn’t last long sticking to that but we shall see.”
"Yeah for sure I’ve had my work copied, ripped off and stolen but hey what do we expect."
Loyal readers will know that I always round up my interviews with the same question: What next?
“My plans core that a hard one, there’s so many. I guess mainly trying to push myself creatively more than last year. It would be awesome to set up some collaboration this year; they’re always fun! I always love learning new tricks even with generally just the little simple things. It’s always the way, the most obvious things you don’t think of first.”
A final thought from the author: "If you pay to get great work done then make sure you heal it properly. Don't cut corners and don't take risks. If you want to heal your tattoo so it last a life time then use the best; use Yayo!"
Yayo... its a family thing.