Recently we got the chance to interview Jay Blondel. Jay is a talented tattoo artist from NYC. He is a former contestant on Ink Master and currently inks at The Alchemy Tattoo located in Bellmore, Long Island. Check out our interview with Jay about Ink Master, traveling the world, and what is next.
upfrontNY: How did you get your start as a tattoo artist?
Jay Blondel: I was always an artist since I was a little kid. I never really knew what to do with it. I dropped out of art school because I hated it. I tried to get a tattoo apprenticeship, but the guy that I asked tried to talk me out of it. He said I was better off with a real job. Five years later, it found me. Someone said to me one day, you know, you’re supposed to be a tattoo artist, right? The second I touched a tattoo machine, I knew it was for me. There was no looking back after that.
upfrontNY: Were you always interested in tattoos?
Jay Blondel: My grandfather got a tattoo in the Philippines during World War 2 and he used to tell me about it all the time when I was a kid how they did it with bamboo shoots. They were making the ink right there. I also had uncles who had them. They all served in the Navy. I saw tattoos my whole life.
upfrontNY: That must have been interesting.
Jay Blondel: I was always drawn to tattoo art. I always liked the skulls and the flames. When I was a kid, that’s what was all over my notebooks in school.
upfrontNY: You had the opportunity to be on the show, Ink Master. What was that experience like?
Jay Blondel: The experience is hard to describe. When you are trying out, you don’t know what they want and they won’t tell you what they want. You are answering questions with no choice but to be yourself. When you get there it turns into nothing but stress 24 hours a day. The entire time that you are there you are stressed out. Everyone that I know, we all look back on it fondly. It was a good experience, and I don’t regret it, but while we were there, it wasn’t easy.
upfrontNY: How has your life changed since the show? Do you have a lot more people coming to you for specific tattoos they have seen on the show?
Jay Blondel: I get a lot of people who will say that they like one specific tattoo that they saw on the show and that is the style they are looking for. I have had a lot more people come to me.
I get recognized in airports. Because of the show, I travel the world. I’ve gone to South America a few times, Europe a few times, I’ve tattooed in 4 different countries since the show. Those are doors that wouldn’t have been opened as easily for me if the show hadn’t happened.
upfrontNY: When you have traveled to different countries and conventions, have you noticed different tattoo styles?
Jay Blondel: Yes, absolutely. Europe right now is heavy with the Art Nouveau, and the Trash Polka styles are very dominant over there. I was in England and I judged a few tattoo contests. While I was there with the editor of Skin Deep Magazine, Sion, a lot of the stuff we were seeing was that Art Nouveau water color style, or Avant-garde where it is kind of abstract, and there’s the Trash Polka style that is abstract thrown in with hyperrealism. It is usually done in black and red.
upfrontNY: You have gotten to travel to many places, is there one place you hope to travel to that you haven’t been yet?
Jay Blondel: Everywhere in Europe that I haven’t been yet, I want to go to.
upfrontNY: Do you have a favorite tattoo you have done or favorite tattoo experience?
Jay Blondel: There are a lot. I have a friend of mine that I tattoo. He has a leg sleeve from his hip to his ankle. He is really into horror movies, so his whole leg is all color portraits of horror movies. Some are full bodies; some are just faces, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leather Face, all the classics. The top of it is the actual crime scene photo from the Amityville horror house.
upfrontNY: How long did the whole leg take to tattoo?
Jay Blondel: 124 hours over a couple of years
upfrontNY: What is next for you, and do you have any goals that you hope to accomplish?
Jay Blondel: I have a lot of goals. For the future, I definitely want my own shop and it is something I am working on. I am not sure I am done with TV yet. I don’t know where I would wind up, but I kind of like having my face on the big screen. We’ll see what happens. I am full of surprises.
upfrontNY: Is there anything you want others to know about you?
Jay Blondel: The thing I get a lot when people meet me is that they are surprised that I am not yelling at someone or angry about something. That has a lot to do with the editing of the show. They pretty much only show me when I am pissed about something, but they don’t know what lead up to it in the first place. I think when people meet me, they expect me to be angry, but 95% of the day I’m laughing. When they meet me and see me, they are like, you are really nice.