Jenna Bouma’s tattoos take time and require patience. Using the method of stick and poke (a shamisen-bori method which doesn’t require a tattoo gun), her techniques lean on the traditional but with an added modern twist.
While a palm-sized tattoo usually takes between 1-2 hours, a hand-sized one takes 3 hours, and back pieces can vary from 22 to even 40 hours depending on the size, detail, and coverage.
“When clients come in, I already have a good idea of what they want, because at that point we’ll have already emailed or talked about it over the phone,” said Bouma in an interview with The Great Discontent, talking about the tattooing process. “Then I draw up the design and get the A-OK from the client before making a stencil. Once the stencil is made, I put it onto the person’s skin, and we decide on a placement that they like. Then we make it happen.”
According to her, the setup is clean and sterile, much like it is with a machine, except for the tools she’s using. But as her method of choice is considered more avant-garde, so was her training. Practicing first on her friends, she started out by working out of a private loft space in her friends’ apartment. “I was doing it on the down-low, and I was on edge because it wasn’t an official shop,” she said.
Now, with more than 100k followers on Instagram, she doesn’t need to keep a low profile any longer.