You’ve probably seen her work around Instagram. And if you haven’t, Jenna Bouma of East River Tattoo (1047 Manhattan Ave) is known for her signature style illustrations – characterized by bold, vintage icons with a dismal charm… all done without the help of a machine. Her commitment to hand poking purveys a traditional emphasis on taking one’s time and doing it well, despite a high-volume clientele. In the midst of today’s mindful action concerning “faster/cheaper” output (which by the way, her Instagram handle is “@slowerblack“), it’s another admirable reason to put her on today’s spotlight.
John Reardon is getting ready to tattoo a woman in her mid-twenties when I arrive early at the Greenpoint Tattoo Company for our interview. It is a Saturday afternoon, and a cheery song by Of Montreal is playing over the speakers. The walls are covered in framed prints of tattoos, and a book by Reardon on the subject rests near a stack of Vice magazines. The woman has brought along a guy friend for moral support, but the process goes so quickly that she doesn’t even have time to grimace.
After a few moments, the woman gets up to check her arm in the mirror, proclaims the tattoo to be “awesome,” and leaves to meet friends for brunch at Slick Willie a few blocks away. Since John’s schedule is packed today, with another appointment in fifteen minutes, I turn on my recorder and we dive right into the questions. Continue reading