Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Langs.
Hi Jessie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My mind is always busy. I joke that it’s like a pinball machine—constantly taking in information, bouncing it around, outputting some funny phrase or silly image. As a child, my mom would keep pens in her purse for me to doodle while we were waiting on something. My dad is what I’d describe as a professional dreamer, an entrepreneur who is always putting his own life on hold to help his family. My parents are an incredibly kind couple, willing to adopt my middle school best friend, giving me two beautiful and talented sisters.
I was always the person drawing things for my family and friends, drawing on others, on myself, despite being told daily not to. I was obsessed with figuring out what I was going to get tattooed when I was older. I was lucky to be allowed to sit with a parent and wait while the other parent got tattooed a couple of times when I was younger, to sneak a peak when the artist took a break. My family has always been supportive of my creative endeavors and the hobbies I was always neck-deep in. I worked for my family’s retail business as early as possible because I am deeply driven by being helpful and learning everything I possibly can. I gained a lot of experience in managing a small business from my dad.
Everyone assumed I’d go into art but were supportive when I said I wanted to be a Veterinarian. I love animals, but the phobia of germs and parasites doesn’t mix well with the trade. I am also an avid crier. I had always been afraid to combine my hobby and job, but it turned out that most of the things I did for fun were things Graphic Designers did as a job. I ended up getting my Bachelor’s Degree in the Fine Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History from the University of South Carolina. A series of poorly timed and inconvenient events in my life led me to give Saint Louis a try. My long-distance boyfriend of several years lived here, and I figured that it was as good a time as any to hit restart.
I started working with a tattoo artist to open her studio in 2015 as the first task in my apprenticeship. I’d approached several people in the past, but none had worked out. I spent a couple of years helping this person build their business because I believed in them wholeheartedly. Another artist, Aaron Wall, ended up teaching me how to tattoo. That should have been a red flag, but I was devoted to my original mentor. I was expecting them to be my teacher and close friend forever. People have all different ways of working and dealing with the stresses of life, though.
What I’ve realized most since 2015 is that good mental health is essential, inside and outside of a work environment Not everyone is meant to work together— and that’s okay. I’ve had to leave studios that I spent countless hours working to help start because it ended up being the healthy choice. I’ve also learned to appreciate the gift that someone investing time in you is—I mean the type of time investment out of the belief that you deserve success and not because there is something to gain FROM your success. They’re very different things.
I’ve learned the type of things I’m willing to associate myself with and what I want for my clients; because tattooing is a trust-based experience. The client trusts that they can put themselves in a stressful and potentially compromising situation in my care; it’s my job to maintain their safety while meeting their expectations. It’s also a person-to-person exchange; we are representing each other as long as the tattoo exists.
So after several tries at doing it for others, Aaron Wall, B Hancock, and I decided that we wanted a private studio space to spend the day with our clients in a relaxing and personal atmosphere. It’s been a tough six months of making it work, but we are finally up and running, feeling good.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’ve never heard of a road without bumps or a life without struggles. Our struggles and, more so, our reactions to them are what define our lives. I am wary about seeming like a victim because I’ve worked hard to avoid that.
I come from a family of Neuro-Atypical people, which makes everything more emotional and more complex. Despite the ups and downs of that sort of household, it was always loving and supportive. That said, there have been several periods that I’d describe as “really tough times.” A euphemism that I’m sure others with similar builds can understand and apply to periods of their own life.
One of the most influential was when our apartment was broken into within a month of my college graduation, leaving me without my laptop and backup hard drive. As a result, I lost most of the last four years of work, two weeks before I finished with it all. A week later, I was in an accident so minor, it can barely be called a fender-bender; only to be served with a lawsuit because the other person involved decided to try his hand at insurance fraud. Everything kept snowballing. It put me in a months-long severely depressed state. I really only got through it because of loved ones—both humans and pets. That’s the period that led me to try one more time to get into tattooing. I had a lot of experience doing a lot of different things at that point and hoped I could be an asset.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I primarily tattoo for income, but I am an illustrator, designer, and general maker. I want to learn whatever someone is willing to teach me, and I love to share that knowledge and excitement with others. While I’d say that I’m most known for my floral tattoos, I’d like to be known for being a great all-around artist and at least an okay person. We do best at what we love, and I love anime, pop culture, art history… Honestly, anything that I connect with. If you are enthusiastic about it, I probably will be, too.
All of that aside—I’m awfully thankful, because helping people be excited about their bodies is such a fantastic way to make a living. It’s still a bit surreal to me that people actually like my art enough to put on their bodies. I’m quite lucky.
What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Strive to do what you love to the best of your abilities, and people will eventually recognize it. Don’t let someone convince you that you are someone else; to push you in another direction. We are all perfect in our unique perspectives. No one views the world exactly like you do. No one will make a line like you. We are all uncertain of ourselves, pretending we know what we are doing.
- Minimum of $150
- $150 per hour
- Email: Hello@jessieisokay.com
- Website: www.Jessieisokay.com, www.deadsurestudio.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessieisokay/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/jessieisokay