PITTSFIELD — April Jordan has always liked to draw. She began with paper. Now, her canvas is skin.
Jordan is a tattoo artist She started as an apprentice, then worked her way up in the trade, and now owns her own studio, Rock’n Ink Pittsfield
She is a master tattooist, which is only given to tattooists who have at least 10 years experience. This distinction allows them to hire apprentices. Jordan believes she is Pittsfield’s only female certified master tattooist.
She said, “I train new artists.” “That’s my main focus when it comes to apprenticeships.”
We talked with the Pittsfield native recently about how she learned her craft, why she loves it, and some of the weird places she’s drawn tattoos.
Q: How many years have you been tattooing?
A: Nineteen years.
Q: How did your journey to becoming one?
A: My apprenticeship began with [the late] Jim Squires was a young man when he had his first Adams head shop. Jim Squires was a well known This area is home to a well-known tattoo artist.
Q: Why did this decision make sense?
A: Art has always been a passion and love of mine. My family was also supportive. They understood how talented I was. At 16 years old, my father tried to convince me to become an apprentice with the artists he was working with. I was just 16 years old when my father tried to tell me to become an apprentice with the artists he was working with. [said] No, I won’t do that. I don’t know where I want to go. Jim Squires offered me the chance to do this, and Jimmy believed that I was capable. It was an opportunity for me to express my passion and love of art, and I fell in love with it.
Q: What type of art did your do before you started to draw tattoos?
A: I was a doodle-monster. I could do anything, drawing, sketching or painting. I used to sit in class and sketch little images on a pad of notepaper. It didn’t matter that I loved drawing, it was my passion. My passion has been drawing my entire life. … My son joined the Air Force last month. So every letter I send him there’s a little doodle or drawing for him.
Q: Is there a tattoo artist in your family?
A: My mother hails from Thailand. Recently, I discovered that my family is a tattoo artist in Thailand. One of my relatives is a Buddhist monk who does tattooing. It’s evident that it is in their bloodlines.
Q: What did you know about tattoos?
A: Yes, they do. These blessings are given to them. You would ask the temple to perform a specific type of blessing. They decide the design, and then they stick the stick in the temple. It’s a very traditional, but very spiritual Buddhist thing they do.
Q: What is the best way to learn the trade of an apprentice?
A: It is very similar to any trade you make. You just sit. You sit. You learn. You are involved. You sterilize needles and equipment. You clean your work stations. You set up the work stations. The stencils are drawn. You draw the stencils. It is hard work. It is a huge undertaking. This industry is very unfamiliar to many people.
Q: How long did you have to wait before you were able to put a tattoo on someone?
A: My apprenticeship began within the first year.
Q: How do I actually do it?
A: It is mostly mental. Every person’s skin is unique. There is no one canvas that is perfectly flat and smooth. Every tattoo will be different due to the unique challenges you face and the various skin textures. Professionalism is the most important thing. Respect all regulations to avoid cross contamination and infection. It’s knowing how to measure the needle inside someone’s body, so you don’t cause any damage. This is essential in order to do your job properly. It’s important to not scare people.
Q: Previously, tattoos were mostly done by men. But now they are available to women as well.
A: Nowadays, tattoos are much more popular with women than they are for men.
Q: How has this changed?
A: I don’t know. It’s more that we are becoming bolder and stronger, and the equality for women is really being promoted. It’s the same as women in politics and getting elected. It used to be a male world. But, things have changed and there are now women in power. It is encouraging to see equality being achieved. We are seeing more women doing the work of a man’s.
Q: Are you giving more ta?Are ttoos more common for men than for women?
A: I would say my clientele is a very good mix of both. Some men are more comfortable having a female artist touch them than a man with a stronger hand. Women will feel more comfortable getting tattoos in discreet locations that don’t show their body to a male than having one done on them. It is all about discretion and comfort for the clientele.
Q: Are more women than men getting multiple tattoos?
A: It has to be 50-50. Today, I believe there are more women with tattoos than ever before. The times have changed. You have to learn to accept the inevitable.
Q: Which type of tattoo is the most difficult to apply?
A: Each tattoo is unique. If I had to judge them on a scale of magnitude, I would say that the geometrical ones are the most important, followed by the places on the body where they are located. It can be hard.
A: They are similar to a kaleidoscope. You can see all the line changes and patterns when you look into a kaleidoscope.
Q: Where is the most interesting spot anyone has ever asked to get a tattoo done?
A: The bottom of your feet and hands are where the actual tattoo won’t stick. Below the bottom lip. It’s a bizarre one. Why not go with the inside of the bottom lip? I don’t want people to discuss their… This is a safe option.
Q: Can you put a tattoo onto someone’s bottom lips?
A: Yeah, yeah. It’s so strange. It’s so they can pull out their bottom lips and say something stupid. It’s the most absurd questions we get. It doesn’t stay there for long. It is pushed out of your mouth by saliva and heals very quickly.
Q: What strange requests do you have?
A: Ah, the bees! They are tiny little insects. These are the funniest cliche ones. An anchor would be used to say, “I refuse sink!” Many of the cliche sayings are merely rhetorical and make no sense in the context of the design. It happens to the best of us. This is why we are here to cover-ups.
Q: What is the best way to cover up a tattoo?
A: Some are difficult, but others are possible. It is not without its problems. It doesn’t settle right. The ink not settling correctly. Sometimes, they are pushed in too hard, and cause scarring.
Q: Can you just get rid of the tattoo?
A: We don’t do laser remvoal. Only laser removal can remove a tattoo. Even with that, the procedure can scare the skin.
Q: Which advice would you offer someone who is interested in doing what you are doing?
A: Never give up on your dreams. Push for your goals. It starts with finding a place to apprentice in order to get into the tattoo industry. You can only get licensed at this location.