Interview Jes Mesa Osilao

Jes Mesa Osilao

Jes Mesa Osilao hails from Cagayan de Oro city, all the way in the Philippines. He’s a 28 year old tattoo artist who has his own business, Jes Tattoo. He has known since he was a child that he would become a tattoo artist, out of obligation to his future customers. “In a country like the Philippines, there were not a lot of tattoo shops around when I was a kid. Many people would have scrappy tattoos, and I have always admired the art, but can you imagine carrying that artwork on peoples’ skin forever? Basically, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be a tattoo artist and do a way better job of giving tattoos.” His goal was to improve the quality of tattoo artists in the area, so that prospective customers would have more than subpar artists to choose from. His vast portfolio and wonderful skill shows that he managed to achieve just that.

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“I’ve loved drawing since the first day…”

But getting there wasn’t easy. When he quit his old job, he knew he had a passion for the art, but he didn’t know what to expect. “I’ve loved drawing since the first day I can remember. As I left my previous job, there were some worries, but I knew I wouldn’t regret this path.” His family also shared a bit of those worries. “My family was less supportive before I made the switch. They didn’t think that tattooing could be a profession. But, as time went by, they started to understand that tattooing can mean a lot of things. It can be a way of expression and so much more.” Thanks to his hard work and passion, he managed to become a thriving tattoo artist.

His shop’s motto is “Art on Skin.” Given his goal of improving the quality of tattoos in his area, that should come as no surprise. His store does many types of tattoos, but he does have favorites. “I particularly like black and gray tattoos, but we cater to many different kinds of styles, including realistic tattoos and 3D tattoos.” Over the years, the care that he has given to his customers has vastly improved the reputation of his store. He remembers with a smile, “At the beginning, most of my customers were thugs and ruffians! But the stigma around tattoos has changed dramatically, and now a lot of clients are professionals such as doctors, government officials, veterinarians, nurses, engineers, and even priests!” He says, without a doubt, that the reason for his success is, “definitely the love of what I do.”

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Getting Paid To do Something You Love…

Since he has wanted to be a tattoo artist his whole life, he enjoys every bit of the job. “I’m getting paid to do something I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I’ve always done drawings, doodled on my notebook at school, and so much back then. Now, I am being paid to do art on people. I might get paid, but hell, if tattoos could be given for free in the future, I assure you I would still be doing tattoos!” He draws inspiration from everything that surrounds him. “Everything can be tragic and beautiful at the same time. Everything can be captured through the art of tattoos. That means the things that people like or hate, or even the pain they have felt.” It’s his calling to channel all of those memories and form an image for his clients to carry forever.

His favorite types of tattoos to do are monochrome tattoos, which he just calls black and gray works. “I enjoy doing it, and I think that black and gray tattoos can show so many things. They can be classy, mysterious, or they can be so bad-ass that you can’t describe it.” For his own skin, he has a frog tattoo on his right deltoid and the eye of Ra on his left. He has the word ‘semidios’ on his left shoulder, Aztec Warrior on his neck, and a tattoo machine on his rib cage. He also has the image of an angel holding a tattoo machine on his forearm, his grandmother’s name, and a rabbit. Most of his tattoos are inspired by his family, and his favorite is the word on his shoulder—the name of his daughter.

In his free time, he draws and watches some of his favorite tattoo artists work so that he can improve himself. Among his favorite artists, he enjoys Victor Portugal’s work the most. He also does basketball for his cardio exercise, reads, and joins local city tattoo competitions. In the Philippines, there are almost monthly tattoo events across the many different cities. They are less like conventions and more like thirty to forty different tattoo artists competing. The biggest event of all is Dutdutan—a very famous and large tattoo competition. He has won multiple events in the black and gray categories.

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Strive For Improvement!

Jes intends to be one of the best artists on the planet. “I am very new in tattooing, but I have strived for countless hours and days researching on how to improve my skills.” He loves doing custom tattoos, so he enjoys when customers walk in wanting one. “I believe that if you treat your customers with utmost respect, then it becomes mutual. I also try to make the most safe and sterile environment that a tattoo artist could offer.”

He depends on pure hard work to improve, training himself every day to provide the best tattoos in the best environments. He learns from the masters, and he himself is his biggest critic. Because of the path he took, he knows how hard it can be for fellow tattoo artists getting started. “For aspiring tattoo artists, proper experience is a must, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be good enough if you don’t have as much experience as other artists. Try pushing yourself to your boundaries with research and learn from the mistakes of others. Criticize yourself. Listen to everything that people tell you, and then decide for yourself. And, don’t forget to stay sterile!”

Take a glance at his Facebook profile and get in touch with him if you want to get inked by Jes!


Ink Done Right


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