When interviewing for Inked magazine, you learn to expect the unexpected. Sometimes you’ll interview someone in the midst of a huge tattoo and other times the interviewee will be sudsing up in the bathtub or chowing down on some next-level takeout. But when travel and adventure influencer Jay Alvarerez took our call mere moments before jumping out of a plane in Oahu, Hawaii? That was a new one for us.
“I’ve been skydiving probably 1,200 times,” Alvarrez says. “After a while, it doesn’t feel dangerous if you understand it. Driving a car is probably more dangerous than skydiving. Like anything else, you adapt to it and understand the dynamic. Every time I do it, it becomes more fun.”
Alvarrez has been forging his own path since he was 12. When his mother was undergoing cancer treatments, she began homeschooling him and shortly after, she passed away. After her death, Alvarrez’s future was in his own hands. “I did homeschooling for a little bit and just faded into doing whatever I wanted,” Alvarrez says. “I can’t believe it actually worked out that way, but it did.”
Alvarrez didn’t grow up with money, so there was nothing to fall back on. Even without the comfort of a safety net, he was confident enough that he never worried about what the long-term future had in store. “I got really into photography and videography at an early age,” Alvarrez says. “That kind of evolved into the career I have now, and to be honest, I don’t even know what I was working toward. I’ve just always had the headspace that I was going to be able to take care of myself and do something good with my time.”
Over time, as Alvarrez was taking photos and videos participating in his favorite extreme sports, he began to develop a following online. Simply living his best life in Hawaii would soon end up providing him with a career he never sought out, or for that matter, had even imagined was possible. “When I found out I could make a career out of having fun, I got into it pretty heavily,” Alvarrez says. “And once I understood the dynamics of how the numbers were moving around and how I could interact with other people’s money, I was able to build a larger potential for myself.”
People like to throw social media influencers into one big group when in reality no two influencers are alike. Each has their own very specific niche and manner of going about their business, and, as such, there is no set path to becoming a successful influencer. It takes a combination of ingenuity, hard work and luck. Alvarrez is rightfully very proud of the hustle it took to get to where he is, but also cognizant of how lucky he is.
“I think I was just at the right place, at the right time, doing something new,” Alvarrez says. “If someone tried to come and do what I’ve done now, it probably wouldn’t have the same impact on the community. I’m definitely thankful for the timeframe and how it happened because it was natural and organic.”
These days, Alvarrez spends half of the year in Hawaii and half of the year abroad in some of the most exotic and exciting locales known to planet Earth. His travels began with a two-month surf trip to French Polynesia and since then he has filled his passport with stamps from at least 50 countries, with plans to visit many more. Then the pandemic threw a wrench into Alvarrez’s busy schedule. But a minor inconvenience like a global pandemic couldn’t curb his wanderlust. Where there’s a will there’s a way, as they say, thus Alvarrez found a way to sneak into Russia.
“I was trying to go there to see someone and like everywhere else, they had the whole country closed off,” he explains. “I found a way through this group of people to get me in through Belarus, and then we drove, like, 12 hours through the forests and on back roads to get to Moscow. That was a crazy one.”
Alvarrez has done just about everything during his travels abroad—from BASE jumping in Norway to riding giant squid in Bora Bora. Yet, as adventurous as he may be, he still hasn’t gotten a tattoo outside of the United States. “All of my tattoos have been done by my close friend, Konstantin Noskos,” Alvarrez says. “I refuse to go and get tattooed from different artists because he’s so good at what he does. His line work is so solid and he’s become one of my best friends. There’s so much poorly done tattoo work out there and I don’t want to chance going to another artist.”
Alvarrez’s bond with his tattooer is rock solid. They’re so close, in fact, that their friendship extends beyond a one-way ink exchange. “My tattoo artist walked me through how to tattoo and I’ve probably done about 15 tattoos now,” Alvarrez says. “Most of the tattoos are on my tattoo artist. [Tattooing] is definitely a very respectable work because it’s not easy. The fucking talent that he has versus me, it just flows so effortlessly from him.”
Tattooing professionally may not be in the cards for Alvarrez just yet, but down the road, who knows? Alvarrez may not have thought about his future while he was building his career as a teenager in Hawaii, but now he realizes the importance of planning ahead. He’s not going to be young forever and when that day comes, he’ll be ready.
“For the last two years, I’ve taken my finances really seriously and have been very focused on crypto,” Alvarrez says. “I’ve realized that social media is such a random animal. I don’t know if I’ll be doing social media work in my mid-thirties or forties, it’s not something I’m desiring to do. If I stay on this trajectory, I’ll probably be at the point where I no longer have to work or think about working ever again.”