The ink on Illyria Jade

Illyria Jade from Austin, TX

Where did you grow up?
Austin, TX.

How was it growing up there, would you say that it influenced you?
Austin is a very progressive town, full of free thinkers and creatives. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else in this state (I have, & always move back here!) The town is full of positive and accepting people. I don't see how that could not influence someone. If anything, being an Ausitnite has influenced me to expect the best in people. Because here you get the smartest, the most creative, etc. 

When did you start getting tattoos?
On my 18th birthday. 

How would you describe your style?
I'm a recovering Goth. I still have my relapse moments, ha, but I prefer a much more natural, less artificial look these days. I'm a tank top and flowing skirt gal. Kinda laid back gypsy style. 

Do you consider tattoos as a serious art form?
Of course, but just as with all art forms there are different levels of it. An artist has to be serious about their art before they can expect to be taken seriously by others. I consider my artists to be just that, artists of the highest caliber. Now there are folks who do tattoos out of their garages who I probably wouldn't consider serious artists. And at that point I think they might not take themselves that seriously as artists either. 

How do you see the tattoo culture right now?
I think it's making progress. The "tattoo acceptance in the workplace" movement and "beyond the ink" movement are not only helping people get more educated before getting tattoos, but also helping bring to light many of the erroneous stigmas and preconceptions people have about tattooed individuals. The tattoo community is full of hard working and intelligent people and right now the tattoo culture is really pushing to get those facts acknowledge by the mainstream. 

What has been your inspiration for getting them?
I wanted them as far back as I can remember. I started planning out pieces when I was 12. I can't call it inspiration, there has just always been this internal motivating push to get them. Like, I was always meant to have them. 

What’s your favorite piece?
That's a really hard question. I honestly love them all. My chest piece was my first highly visible large piece that sort of moved me from the realm of being a chick with a few tattoos to being a noticeable collector. But I have other smaller pieces that I like, less on the aesthetic side, but more on the meaning side. Like my mother's name on my stomach or the small bear outline on my lower back/hip. So it's really hard to say. 

Do you catch people starring at you because of your ink?
Every single day.

In your opinion, do your tattoos change your mood often?
Nope. My tattoos don't affect my mood at all. Except when I'm in the middle of getting one, my mood is definitely changed in that moment! 

What’s your most significant tattoo and why?
This kind of piggy backs off the "favorite tattoo" question/answer.... and is just as hard to answer solidly! It's hard because some have specific meaning, some I find amazing aesthetically as works of art, others mark milestones for me as a collector....they all have significance in different ways, so it's like comparing apples to oranges. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
Research, research and research. Make sure you have shopped around and looked at different artists' portfolios. Make sure you choose an artist who is strong in the style you want. Heed your artist's judgment on size and placement. Don't bring your entire posse into the shop with you. And you know what, wait until you're 25 or older! Seriously, the younger you are the more likely you will regret your choice of tattoo. Or regret you couldn't afford that very expensive high quality artist over the cheaper one. Or regret going small instead of big. When you are older, wiser, and have more money, you can get something you will be happy with longer instead of regretting. I think young people rush into it thinking their likes/dislikes/style will never change. And guess what...they do.

Will you be getting anymore?
Of course. I'm one big work in progress. 

What’s your biggest inspiration, what keeps you going?
Again, I don't have a pinpointable inspiration. Getting tattooed is like a basic need I have to meet, it’s like eating or breathing. I don't even have to consciously think about it. There's never a question of "will I get tattooed again?" It's more like "when will I get tattooed again?" I'm still working from a list that I've been adding to and working on since I was a kid. I'll never run out of things on my list. So I'll keep going until I run out of space. 

What is one thing that life has taught you?
It's just a ride.

Do you have a favorite quote?
I have many. I have a few tattooed on me. One I really like is "Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone" from the Ella Wheeler Wilcox poem Solitude. I have it tattooed on me, in Korean.

Anything else you would like to add?
I have a spread in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Inked Girls magazine that is still in stores. And you guys can always check me out on social media where I post all the new stuff I'm up to. 

Also be sure to check out my primary artist, Rooster, who's been tattooing me for going on 10 yrs!

Photographer's Credit: