Not only incredibly adept at beautifully detailed fineline tattoos, Jade Chanel is a soul of gold who uses her platform to promote empowerment, compassion, and inclusivity. Between creating unique depictions of flowers, animals and beautifully lush Egyptian scenes, Jade Chanel takes the time to make others feel heard and inspired. She is part of a positive and progressive wave of contemporary tattooing that is making our future bright. Based in London at the studio she founded, Vaporwave Tattoo, Jade was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share some thoughts with us.
First of all, can you tell us a bit more about yourself, like your background, what you like to do and what you do?
I was born and raised in East London! I’ve always been artistic and spent a lot of my years creating things. I would say that I’m super passionate and I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m all about empowering and inspiring people to live freely! Especially the women! Girl power!
Can you tell us what attracted you to the tattoo industry? What was your experience of becoming a tattoo artist?
A flexible career has always been what I wanted. I have stage 4 endometriosis which made labor on a very difficult schedule. I fell into depression when my health was at its lowest. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere because I wasn’t good enough to do what everyone else was doing and my ex-employees made me feel inadequate. After having surgery and spending a month on the beach in Miami, I came home with a new fire in my stomach. I wanted to take control of my life but also be kind to myself by doing my best when I could. The tattoo allowed me to do that. I could finally use my creativity and meet like-minded people. I apprenticed at Lowrider Tattoo with some of my favorite tattoo artists. I admired them very much. There, I developed my own style. I think my creative style became more feminine by working around a real male energy that I wanted to dominate.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattoo artists or not? Who do you look to for inspiration, even beyond the arts?
First and foremost, the women I work with are amazing. Annabelle Luyken and I started our apprenticeship together and I remember we were pretty bad at tattooing. Now she is hands down one of the best tattoo artists I’ve been tattooed by! My amazing friend Leah Luna, also a tattoo artist, continues to inspire me with her incredibly cold yet powerful existence. I describe it as the 4 elements all in one. Water, Air, Fire and Earth. Be absolutely magical! Just the way she is so open to learning and loving new cultures. Suki Lune, the little firecracker! Crazy confidence in his work. She knows exactly what she wants to achieve with her work and her style. I only mentioned the tattoo artists, but it’s not really the fact that they do great tattoos, it’s the work ethic, the charisma and the way my peers carry themselves in life. I love being able to witness this first hand! We are all growing together. It is special ! Overall, I’d say I’m easily inspired. I’m lucky!
You also own Vaporwave Tattoo in London. Why was it important for you to open your own studio? How has it supported your growth as an artist?
It was important because I wanted to create a safe space that would allow female artists to thrive and feel comfortable without the distractions of all the ego and drama that usually comes with working in a tattoo studio. . It’s hard to be a woman in such a male-dominated industry. The difficulties definitely ignited a fire in my stomach to push through that stereotype and helped me develop my voice and my artistry. I was very shy and that forced me to open my mouth and speak frankly. Vaporwave is just me making noise! I also wanted to create a soothing, welcoming and special service for each customer. Tattooing is all about having a good experience and coming away with a tattoo that you really love.
I love that you don’t want to be known as “just a tattoo artist”. Beyond the tattoo, what do you like? What would you like to have more time for?
I like to learn new things in general. I often go to the gym and work out, which helps me focus and stay in shape. Interior design is one of my first loves, watching my dad develop properties. In fact, we both set up the studio together! I rewired all the lighting, laid the floor, painted the walls, hung up all the wall decor, shelving etc. I’ve been crowned DIY queen so if you ever need a lady at handy… haha i love games! Which definitely influenced the aesthetics of my studio. Music has my heart too… I would like to make music soon. Acting! I was also crowned drama queen, so hopefully this helps! I like nature! Plants teach me to feed people, to understand their desires/needs in order to flourish. I’m not going to dwell on it now! haha, quite a contrast. I just wish I had more time for all of the above!
What is the best advice you have ever received and what is the best advice you think you can give?
I received a lot of good advice. Someone recently told me “Tomorrow will always be better”. Short and sweet! Looking forward to a better future is always a perfect reminder when you’re feeling down.
If I could share one piece of advice with the world, it’s: “Do everything with love. Put your heart into the things you are passionate about and don’t be afraid to fail, because how that thing makes you feel at that exact moment is more important than succeeding.
Do you have projects, collaborations, travel plans, etc. planned for 2020 that you would like to share?
Well, right now we are looking for one more girl to join the Vaporwave Tattoo team. It’s exciting because the studio dynamic changes when someone leaves and someone new arrives. I haven’t planned a tattoo trip yet, mainly because traveling with tattoo gear is stressful! But I’m really excited about the unknown, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see!