The Expressionists: Friday Jones

Friday Jones is not your average tattoo artist. With a client list that includes Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award winners, supermodels and even heads of state, Friday taps into her deep interest in symbolism and spirituality to create personalized designs for her clients. She has appeared on numerous TV shows, including Tattoos After Dark for the Oxygen Channel, and has recently expanded to Europe where she opened the only tattoo parlor in Montenegro.

Friday has also turned her attention to post-operative tattoos for breast cancer survivors, aligning with some of the country's top plastic surgeons for 3D nipple tattoos, areolar repigmentation and illustrative scar therapy. In her work with the charity P.ink (Personal Ink), she matches mastectomy survivors with tattoo artists for artful scar coverage and emotional restoration.

We sat down with Friday and got to know more about what it is like to express herself through a living medium.

MORGENTHAL FREDERICS: What form of personal expression best shapes the way you see the world and the way the world sees you?

FRIDAY JONES: From my twenties I began to realize how much words matter, and how one's ability to manage words creates a relationship with self and others—for good or not-so-much. Now that I live in a country where English isn't necessarily available, I find myself stretching my capabilities for language, which is ultimately connection. Learning the way other cultures use words to describe feelings and the world around them has enlarged my worldview in surprising ways, and that childlike feeling of discovery has enhanced my ability to play in life's sandbox. Language has informed my art, tattooing, and general quality of life profoundly.

MF: You are a world-renowned tattoo artist with accolades that go beyond your list of celebrity clients. You also apply your talents to working with post-operative work for breast cancer survivors. What is your approach to creating designs that express the unique messages of your diverse clientele?

FJ: Technically my approach to tattoo design, especially in the post-operative arena, is "hands on." I prefer to have the clients/patients right in front of me, not only to navigate the often chaotic landscape of their scarring and recovery, but to connect emotionally with them. I find that the faculty of touch, necessary to my design work, inspires all sorts of off-the-grid imagery that Google searches can't touch. I've long learned to embrace my imagination and the pictures that pop into my head when working with clients, and the creativity between the two of us can be mind blowing and completely original. Sometimes I'll see an image in my mind and mention it to the client and they will have a powerful emotional response based on their own relationship with the image. We've had tears ensue just from the design process alone.

MF: What is something that most people may not know about you?

FJ: I am deeply spiritual and embrace all sorts of religious ideas, and I pepper conversations with friends, clients and strangers with metaphysical asides and quotes from thinkers and religious texts. I talk about dreams like many folks talk about breakfast. I'm not traditionally spiritual, unless you count paganism as spiritual practice, but my inner world and emotions are my primary navigational tools. Life unfolds more beautifully the deeper I can immerse daily in the larger reality behind mundane appearances.

Many thanks to Friday for sharing her art and inspiration with us in this lovely interview.