Sketchbook: Jes Irwin

Smoking Tattoos
18 St. Mark’s Place
New York, NY

“As a child I was obsessed with my best friend’s grandfather because he was the only person I knew who had tattoos,” Jes Irwin says. “I eventually began playing tattoo parlor around the age of 8, where I would scrape my friends with an engraving pen and then draw on them with markers.” Irwin was shop girl and then shop manager at Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn before leaving to become a tattooer herself. These days she is honing her craft at Smoking Tattoos, a walk-in shop with a lot of college-aged traffic, some celebrities, and a few freaks. “The craziest story I have is when I tattooed a guy’s penis,” she says. “It hurts to even think about it. What should have taken 20 minutes took two and a half hours because he couldn’t stay erect. … The experience scarred me for life.”

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