In Arizona, a heartwarming “unlikely friendship” story has surfaced, sparked from 9-year-old Jaden Scriven's nerves to get his blood drawn. The phlebotomist, Jason Greathouse, had eased his anxiety through chatting about his own tattoos. From there, Jason shared his dream to be a tattoo artist. While Scriven had created his own designs—and even gotten in trouble a few times for drawing “tattoos” on friends without permission—he had finally gotten to see one of his drawings come to life on a skin canvas.
Jaden’s mother, Heather Scriven, says, “They struck up a conversation about different styles, concepts, etc. Jaden showed him photos of some of his drawings on paper and on people. Jason was impressed and asked him if he would design a tattoo for him."
Greathouse wanted an eyeball design for the ditch of his arm, so Jaden measured it, and asked questions about what he wanted for the design.
Greathouse, who was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Arizona in 1989, said that he could tell Jaden was intrigued by his ink when they met. When Greathouse asked him ‘what do you do for fun?’ Jaden responded with: ‘I do tattoos.’ Greathouse tells INKED, “From there, the rest is history.”
“When I met Jason, I was impressed by his tattoos and how nice he was to talk to me about them,” Jaden, who started to feel confident in his drawings at 5-years old, said. “My dream is to be a tattoo artist and own my own shop with lots of cool merch, and hopefully travel the world doing tattoos.” He adds, “But if I don't get that great opportunity, I would also love to be a musician like Post Malone.”
When the Scrivens were leaving their appointment, Jason gave Jaden a dollar, and advised him to never agree to do creative work without getting some money upfront, because “people will take advantage or change their minds, and then you’ve done a lot of work for nothing,” Heather said. “It's good advice. And Jaden was so thrilled beyond thrilled to have made his first dollar as a tattoo artist.“
Heather adds, “Wanting to be a tattoo artist isn't a common dream for a kid, and he's had adults kind of laugh him off, or make him feel like that's not something they think he should aspire to. For someone like Jason to invest time and energy encouraging Jaden in his dreams really makes an impact.”
Jaden’s favorite tattoos to draw are roses, tigers and eyes, but says he can draw “lots of different things.” Aside from drawing tattoos for his best friends (if it’s okay-ed by their parents), he is also designing ink for staff at his school.
“Right now I'm working on a sugar skull design for a grownup who works at my school, and a 3D puzzle piece for a nurse in my doctor's office,” Jaden said.
Along with Jaden’s school friends, mom, and twin brother, Jameson—who had always encouraged Jaden’s drawings—their dad, James, has also been a source of encouragement. James is a graphic designer, working at a local media company. As an artist, he gave Jaden some tips to make his drawings better for Greathouse's tattoo.
After many design trials and throw-aways, Jaden finally came up with several drawings he was happy with, and returned to Greathouse a couple weeks later to present his concepts.
“Jason surprised him by selecting one of the designs, and telling him he had gotten the OK from the tattoo shop for Jaden to be there when he got his design tattooed on his arm,” Heather said. Greathouse's other surprise for Jaden? He had designed and built a sign (Jaden’s Tattoo Shop) in his woodshop.
“He shows it to everyone who comes over,” Heather said. “He was so happy he couldn’t stop smiling!”
Jaden adds, “I love the sign that Jason made me so much. I hope I can hang it up in my tattoo shop someday.”
While Heather isn’t sure Jaden got a lot of sleep the night before the big tattoo day, the Scrivens met Greathouse and his wife at Ink Bomb Tattoo in Chandler, Arizona. Heather shares that Jaden loved holding his drawing for the tattoo artist, Javi; watch his design get tattooed on Greathouse; and talk to a real tattoo artist. “He loved getting to ask the artist questions, and it was really awesome how encouraging they were to him about wanting to be an artist.” Heather said.
She adds, “I really can’t thank Jason enough for giving Jaden this experience! It’s really incredible for an adult to recognize a kid’s dream, and Jason's encouragement of his talent and ambition means the world to him."
While Greathouse — who was adopted at 9-months old— doesn’t come from a tattooed family, as his adopted family is “not big on the ink,” he did find his biological brother, who is also fully tattooed.
This experience has been just as exciting for Jaden as it is for Greathouse. The phlebotomist says he had dealt with discrimination due to his “tattooed tough-guy look,” with the company he had been with.
“I have had a lot of positive feedback on my appearance, but you do have those few who are judgmental based on their own religious beliefs or upbringings,” Greathouse said. “Believe it or not I was brought up in a very religious household, where everything was about youth group, and the weekends were dedicated to going to church.”
However, Greathouse had faced more discrimination in the work force by employers and employees than patients, in regards to his appearance.
“Things like: having to wear long sleeves, turtlenecks in 120-degree Arizona weather, band-aids on my neck, and being removed from doctors' offices, only to find out it was because of my tattoos,” Greathouse said.
Since doing a news interview on Arizona's local channel, Greathouse was unfortunately pulled from the location he had worked at for the past 6 years. However, he was since placed in another location, where his interactions with people are limited.
However, Greathouse says he is “looking forward to getting another piece drawn up by Jaden.” He adds that it’s important for all children to know that “dreams can come true if you believe in yourself.”
Jaden wants his first tattoo to be of a dragon, and said he “want lots of tattoos when I grow up.”
Mom says, “He doesn't understand why I won't let him get tattoos now, but once he's grown, I'm totally fine with however he chooses to design his life and express himself.”
She adds, “My only expectation of my kids when they grow up is that they move through the world with kindness, and that they work hard to become the best version of their true selves.”