I’m quite excited today to share an interview with the talented Atlanta-based tattoo artist Jennifer “Jenny Bunny Bunns” Young of The Ink Bunny Diaries. The multitalented Jenny has also published a series of comic strip-style books (the Diary of an Apprentice and The Inkbunny Diaries series) about “life as an Asian-American female tattoo artist.” I also hear she’s a classically trained pianist!
You can find Jenny tattooing at Cap Szumski’s Timeless Tattoo, where yours truly got her first tattoo a few years ago by the Inkbunny herself, whom I chose because I liked her graphic style and clean line work. [I highly recommend this tattoo shop. They've been around forever and Cap's work is legendary.]
Q: Who are some tattoo artists, past or present, whom you admire and why?
Jenny: Of course I admire my mentors, Craig Foster from Skinwerks Tattoo & Design (whom I apprenticed under) and my current boss, Cap Szumski. When I was 18 and started hanging out at the local tattoo shop in my hometown in Minnesota, I would flip through dozens of tattoo magazines, and Cap and Craig would be in them. Who knew then, that I would ever have the priviledge to work under them now!
I also admire non-tattoo artists. Alfons Mucha has a big influence in my artwork. I come from an illustrative background, much of it influenced by comic book art. I love Bruce Timm’s work and love traditional as well as contemporary Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai and Tibetan artwork.
Q: Where do you see the future of tattooing headed? Any new, interesting developments or trends that are happening?
Jenny: I feel like, because of all the reality tattoo shows popping up in mainstream television, tattooing has become more and more socially acceptable as well as lucrative. Because of the higher demand for tattoos as a result of this, tattooers and entrepreneurs are scrambling to open up shops and studios. The tattoo industry is getting over-saturated. However, I can see in the future a “weeding out” process—the shops with poor ethics, poor management, and/or poor craftsmanship will fade and a higher standard will always prevail.
Q: How much correlation is there between doing art on humans vs. doing art on paper?
Jenny: There is definitely a taxing transition from paper to living skin. I’ve always been told that not all artists can be good tattoo artists. On paper, you can fill up the whole page and not think much of it. On skin, you need to figure out how to frame the piece within that area of the body. On paper, flat pieces can look great—on skin, it’s your job to translate and bring life to an otherwise “dead” piece. On paper, you can rotate the page as needed to draw curves or use a ruler to draw straight lines. On skin, you can only move a person so much, and you cannot use rulers. With paper, you can walk away from your piece whenever you want, take your time, or draw anywhere you want. With skin, you have to finish what you start (or at least get to a stopping point) and you have to deal with people moving around, breathing, freaking out, having body odor and attitudes. And finally—on paper, you can use erasers—on skin you cannot!
Q: Body art has been around for centuries. Do you have a favorite tattoo-practicing culture (such as the Māori, Japanese, Philippines, etc.) and are you ever inspired by these groups?
Jenny: I try to be versatile in the different styles of tattoo I can do for my clients. So in essence, I am influenced by all these cultures. My particular favorites are Japanese, European and contemporary American styles.
Q: Lastly, tell us about your favorite tattoo and the inspiration behind it.
Jenny: There have been so many tattoos that I’ve enjoyed doing and/or enjoyed the end result of. However, what really inspires me is the clientele I’m blessed and honored to have. My passion is not only fueled by the art and craftsmanship of tattooing, but also by the people who commission me to do them. I get to meet people of all walks of life—and I mean ALL walks of life—and I get something out of each of them. Even the difficult clients inadvertently help me build my own character as a person, a professional and as an artist.