Maison Close bra; American Apparel underwear; Yves Saint Laurent heels (throughout); Ruby helmet (throughout)
The lovely Jesse Denning is a walking work of art—through God’s hands and the needles of tattoo artists. Her love for aesthetics runs deep, as she has worked in a number of New York City galleries, including Invisible NYC, the tattoo studio and art gallery she once owned a stake in. And as her impressive collection of ink attests, she appreciates art for art’s sake. “There are aspects to all periods, genres, and artists that I like—or that I can at least find interesting and certainly relevant in terms of a time line,” she says. “I have a soft spot for La Belle Époque, turn-of-the-century culture, arts, and literature. It was such a vibrant, progressive—yet sensual and transitional—period in terms of art and culture.”
But don’t scan her body looking for the work of period masters like Lord Leighton. While she has an eye for late-19th-century painting, she respects modern tattoo art as its own entity, in its own time. “Tattooing is an art in its own right with its own set of rules and imagery,” Denning says. “I wouldn’t necessarily take a painting or drawing to a tattooist and ask for it to be reproduced exactly as it is on paper on my body. I think it’s important to know how specific the art of tattooing is and that a tattoo artist should be allowed room for interpretation and the liberty to make sure the chosen image—or whatever piece—goes with the body. The body is a canvas unlike any other.” The artists she says have worked most on her skin are Andre Malcolm of FTW Tattoo and Jason Kundell of Art Work Rebels.
Denning is also as comfortable in a tattoo chair as she is on a motorcycle. “I love motorcycles!” she says. “I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. At the age of 6 my dad taught me how to drive stick. I’d sit on his lap while he pressed the clutch and I changed gears and steered. I love anything fast and that becomes an extension of the driver or rider. I also love being on a bike and, at the risk of sounding cliché, feeling the wind in my hair.”