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Art & Life with Jeremy Swan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeremy Swan.

Jeremy, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was living in East Salinas, California, in the winter of 1994. I built a prison-style tattoo gun out of a walkman motor, a bent toothbrush and the high E string from my electric guitar. It didn’t take much to convince my friend to tattoo the cover of The Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, on his forearm. After a few months of this kitchen wizardry, I upped my game, and I ordered: “The Cadillac” of tattoo machines from a Spaulding & Rogers advertisement in the back of Tattoo Magazine. I thought I was well on my way to becoming a tattoo artist when that package showed up at my door. By 1996 the Owner of Gold Coast Tattoo tracked me down, and I was offered a legitimate apprenticeship under the tutelage of the now famed Filthy Bill Henderson. I stayed at Gold Coast in Monterey, CA, for 7 years and tattooed P.G. (Pre Google) when you could not google an image but had to tattoo pre-drawn designs from our “flash” selection on the walls or you had to actually use your imagination to create custom tattoos (I know…they were archaic times).

The idea of custom tattoos was still becoming a new thing in those days, and I wanted to open a custom shop that drew every design for the customer. So by Y2K (yes that was a thing…google it), I opened up Broken Art Tattoo. I wanted a little more so by 2005 I relocated Broken Art to a little basement in Silver Lake where I have been for the past 13 years. I specialize in large scale hyper-traditional tattooing and cover-up work thanks to my two seasons on TLC’s show, America’s Worst Tattoos.

I am still tattooing five days a week down in the BAT Cave at 2400 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles CA. And oh ya, I’ve also opened up a couple of Mexican restaurants, with my wife of 25 years, called Mi Corazon!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Tattoo art rides this fine line between the clients’ ideas and the artists’ interpretation. I don’t always get to make the art I want…I am a hired gun of sorts. I’ve always questioned the role of “art” in tattooing. If we are interpreting the clients’ vision; then are we artists or craftsmen? Does art exist for the sole purpose of challenging the clients’ perception of what art is…or is it for the artist to challenge their own artistic abilities! It’s so cliche that art is so subjective…but it’s true. Tattoos can be worn on the exterior for personal image, status, cultural acceptance, personal adornment; or tattoos are internalized as a rite of passage, self-empowerment, personal adornment, precious mementos, mental jewelry, etc…There are so many reasons and the lines of what is art become so blurred. I’ve been conflicted over the years about whether my tattoo art should mean something to me, or to the client… only to realize it should just be something beautiful…something that grabs you with a bit of a fever pitch and cocks your head to the side enough to take a second look. That’s the best I can hope for.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
For me personally…and I’m fairly certain for most tattoo artist, we are not lonely. Our canvas speaks! And we work alongside other artists in the shop. However, loneliness is often necessary when you are working in your own medium. When I am painting, I prefer to be alone. But if you need to chum it up with other artist, then there are paint nights and sketch parties around the city.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I am tattooing five days a week at my shop, Broken Art Tattoo, in Silver Lake. You can book an appointment and see my art on you forever…and that’s a mighty long time. Or you can log on to Instagram and see what I do for other clients: @mister_swan or the shops handle @broken_art_tattoo

Contact Info:

  • Address: Broken Art Tattoo
    2400 Hyperion Ave Suite C
    Los Angeles CA 90027
  • Website: www.brokenarttattoo.com
  • Phone: 323-661-4777
  • Email: swan@brokenarttattoolcom
  • Instagram: mister_swan
  • Facebook: @jeremyswantattoos

Image Credit:
Photo by swan

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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