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Product Of My Community

PONY will always be a product of two things: the city that made us, and the people who believe in us.

Whilst New York has changed a lot since we first came up, the energy that powered its evolution hasn’t, nor have the people. Every day we see the vitality of our communities in the grit and personality of real talent out there doing their own thing.

JD is a tattoo artist who splits his time between Toronto and NYC. He represents the dedicated pros who wear PONY whilst working hard in their local community. We wanted to know what inspires JD’s work and how it comes through in his art. What is his craft a product of?





Tell us the story of why you became a tattoo artist. Was there one thing you really wanted to achieve when you started out? I wanted to become a tattoo artist because I love to draw. Growing up, drawing was something that came natural and felt purposeful to me. Realizing that there was a job where I could turn my passion into a career, made me dream of being in the industry since primary school. Starting out, the one thing I wanted to achieve was to make an impression on my mentors. In my apprenticeship I wanted to show them I was serious and that my heart was in the right place for the industry.


What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself over the course of your career? The biggest change I’ve seen in myself would be my ability to connect with a lot of people. There’s a sense of community I get from tattooing. Either being with clients or other artists in the industry. It’s always fun to connect with other creatives, and just people from all walks of life.



How does your work impact other people? I feel like my work creates moments in time for them. The pieces I make for people sometimes mark the experiences and/or growth they’ve gone through in their lives. Our sessions give them the space to be seen and heard.



What does it take to be a tattoo artist? Like all things, it takes practice, patience, and integrity. Drawing every day, and keeping up with the socials to grow your network.


When did you start to call yourself that? Was there a moment when you said to yourself, I’m an artist now? The moment I graduated from my apprenticeship. I vividly remember being at a shop outing when my mentor told me, ‘You’re done, congratulations buddy.’ I was over the moon and bouncing off the walls. I could finally adjust my profiles to ARTIST.





Where do you live right now, and how is the city important to you and others? I’m currently in Brooklyn. NYC is important to me because I think it fills me and others with a drive to be inspired and get busy. The city is a good example of a place that doesn’t stop, it keeps going. It keeps me motivated.


Do you think that places make people, or people make places? Why? Personally, I think people make places. I once worked in a kitchen for 4 years and knew that the people I met and were with daily made it what it was. Similarly, even though New York can be a tough city it’s full of connections I make with people that makes it worth being around.


Tell us about a favorite hangout – somewhere you and your people go. Why do you all head there? A favorite hangout for me would be a bar down the street called MOOD RING. It’s asian owned and it’s got some good drinks, good folks, and good vibes.


Tell us three things you love about your tattoo studio. The artists/ people I get to see everyday. The shop cleanliness/ Aesthetic. The team-building excursions


How does the city affect your creativity? The city has a lot of character, from the architecture, the people, and the energy inside it. I feel like these things in the city inspire my creativity and keep me motivated.






How does the past find its way into your work? The things I tattoo are relative to the interests I had when I was younger. For example, Mickey Mouse, Dragons, and Greek sculptures. I was always drawing in my spare time, from the characters I’d see in cartoons/anime to still life objects.


What about other tattoo artists. Do you think they should bring their background and history into their work, or try to leave it behind? I think they should bring their background and history into their work. I think any artist should be proud of their narrative, where they are from and how they started. Art can come from anywhere, personally I didn’t go to art school nor did I start tattooing right off the bat but I'm proud of my journey and where I came from.


Where did you go to school and / or college? How did that inspire (or not inspire) you? I went to college in Toronto for architecture technology. It helped me see design in different ways.


How does our history help create the person we want to be? Our history teaches us patterns and informs our intuition. By accepting our past, we are more able to be open to the present and grow into the person and future we want.


Do you find that people ask for a tattoo design based on your creative past, or their own? Usually people see my portfolio of work through my instagram and reach out to collaborate on a design that speaks to both my style and their personal touch.






What do you want to achieve next - for yourself and your customers? I would like to create more outlets for my art including designing merch and prints. I also want to be touring more to different cities and meeting new clients and creatives while exploring new environments.


Who or what inspires you and why? Does that ever change? One of my first teachers was my uncle who taught me the fundamentals. As an artist himself, he was always supportive and inspired my artistic passions.Throughout the years, I’ve been inspired by my various teachers and mentors. They constantly inspire me to create beautiful work and make others feel the sense of wonder I do when I look at things. Whether it is in animation, still life, or traditional tattoos it comes down to the need to create.


How important are dreams for you and your customers? The dream is how it all started, so I’d say it's very important. For my customers, I think they’re also really important. During our sessions, they talk to me about their lives, what they’re working on, what they’re excited about, what they’re not. It’s an opportunity to see a window into their lives.


Let’s talk about how you might change things up in the days to come. How might you improve? Keep drawing more and more, being more intentional. Curating and growing my style and how I present my art to people.


How do you see the tattoo industry changing, for you and other people? I see the industry slowly becoming more inclusive, with the growing number of different artists from various backgrounds. With all the newer niche styles emerging, it motivates me to keep learning and thinking of more ways to tattoo, make art, and create.




In one word, what are you a product of? Community



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