Artists: Jun Cha
What year did you start tattooing?
About five to six years ago, around age 16.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was introduced to black-and-gray tattooing mostly of the surrounding LA culture. I was doing art at an early age, so tattooing became another medium for me to explore, and gradually interest became complete commitment.
Where did you apprentice?
I never officially did – I spent years first working trial and error throughout LA. Later I was blessed by the professional guidance of Baby Ray, in Hollywood, and Jose Lopez in Fountain Valley. I would still consider myself a student to them today – they both have played a huge role in my work and growth as an artist.
Do you have any special training?
Around the same time tattooing gained momentum, I decided to dive into Art Center Pasadena. “Special training” wasn’t about your abilities in the arts, because everyone there is beyond mediocrity. Real education came from applying my mind objectively, taking a wider look at my work, my process, and taking everything I thought I knew and transforming it beyond the literal tattoo way of thinking.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I’ve worked conventions domestically, and throughout Europe with Jose Lopez Lowrider Tattoo Studios. There have been awards in both. But the best part of conventions is working together with the many other great artists in the industry. To see and be with them is the real award.
How do you describe your style?
The art of no style. I think “style” is a word that has become saturated in means to sell a gimmick. I like to see art as fluid, changing, and always evolving. If there’s anything consistent it’s that thought process that fuels my work and it’s direction. How my work is visually now, will be completely different in the two, three, ten years down the line and constantly growing.
What inspires you as an artist?
Anything can become inspiration, but common triggers for me are relationships, human culture/behavior, and the dynamic of this rapidly changing world. There are parallels you find in American consumers, to European fashion lifestyle, to the mix of business and politics of Asia that all have the power to affect the mindset and condition of an industry such as tattooing. That to me interesting.
What other mediums do you work in?
Oil, mixed media, and most other traditional media. Painting is where the heart is.
What tattoo artist’s do you admire most?
There’s too many to name. I’ve been blessed to see and be exposed to a great group of people early on, and it’s seems like that group has been consistently working hard at every convention, event etc. Most of whom have been in the industry almost longer then I’ve been alive – that kind of commitment and integrity to me is important. A few like Baby Ray, Brian Everett, Jack Rudy, and now Jose Lopez, Chuey Quintinarr, Bob Tyrell, Nikko Hurtado, Carlos Torres and alike have all made serious contributions to allow opportunities for this new generation of artists.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
The one for today…
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Go into depth about the meanings and purpose for your piece. Don’t buy into the hype of the culture, understand the art of it. Realize that this is a sacred and true commitment, so the choice you make is one that will change life, not just decorate it. And be conscious that tattooing is not a service. This is a collaborative art, where amazing things happen only when both the artist and client sync together to create. Go past the obvious.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
The one on YOU.