Karma Tattoo, Kingston
When did you first become interested in tattooing?
Jesse Colvin: I got my first tattoo when I was 18 years old, and was immediately fascinated. I spent years drawing tattoos for friends and even some of my own, but never considered a career as a tattooer to be an option. As someone who was working in the field of higher education, I almost didn’t believe tattooing was a real job. I viewed it as something sacred that only a select few could do and they were likely born into it. It wasn’t until a tattooer told me that I could do it that I started to think of it in terms of its potential as a future.
When and how did you enter the industry?
JC: I started tattooing in 2010. I sought out and did a formal apprenticeship. However, I honestly feel as though I didn’t actually start tattooing with any real understanding until I came to Karma.
Photos by Jesse Colvin
What is your personal style like?
JC: I would characterize my style as illustrative and detail-oriented. Being a street shop artist, I have to be able to adapt to varied styles, based on varied customer asks. I strive to do clean, solid tattoos that are rich in depth and detail. If given the option, I would do a rose or a skull any day of the week.
Do you have any memorable tattoos you have created?
JC: It’s usually the people who are memorable. I am fortunate to have been able to do so many fun tattoos. The people you tattoo make the experience. Perhaps just because it was last night so it’s fresh, but I got to give a young man his first tattoo. He’s an Eagle Scout. He first came to me with his parents when he was still 17 and said he wanted an eagle tattoo. I told him he needed to wait a year.
A year later, he came back, parents in toe. He didn’t give me many specifics, just that he wanted an eagle on his chest. I gave him a big, bold, powerful, traditional style eagle; a proper first tattoo. He was so jazzed and appreciative that it made me even more stoked to be doing such a cool image.
Photo by Sabrina Leviton
How many tattoos do you have?
JC: I have many (regrettable) tattoos. I didn’t take the time to seek out artists when I first began getting tattooed and so I ended up with a body of poorly executed work. I have lost count of how many I have, but I have managed, in more recent years, to collect a few from some incredible artists.
Do you tattoo at any other location than Karma?
JC: I do not. Karma is home for me. I look forward to traveling and guesting at some shops in the future.
What do you like your clients to know before they get a tattoo from you?
JC: That I am grateful to them for choosing and trusting me with their tattoo. It is genuinely an honor to tattoo and a responsibility I take seriously.
Photo by Sabrina Leviton
What are you looking forward to at Hudson Valley Tattoo Fest?
JC: Just being around and connecting with so many amazing and inspiring artists. Being in the company of such a wealth of experience and creativity is going to really be fuel for me. I hope to contribute my own positive energies and enthusiasm and hopefully inspire others.
What does 2019 and the future look like for you?
JC: Just to keep pushing. I just want to keep doing better and better tattoos. As I said, I would love to do some guest spots and learn from some of the artists that I admire so much around the country. Karma has a great local reputation and following, so I look forward to seeing that continuing and to seeing further growth as a business and brand.