For Jesse Neumann, RMCAD ‘07 alum, becoming a tattoo artist was always meant to be. “I remember as a kid, I used to draw tattoos on my sister’s Barbies,” shares Neumann. “At that point, my parents should have known that this was what I was going to do.” Fast forward years later and Neumann continued to chase his dream. He attended two colleges before discovering his perfect fit at RMCAD, where he was able to grow his artistry in 2D animation.
While he was studying at RMCAD, he began his tattoo apprenticeship, where he learned all the ins-and-outs from an experienced tattooer. Neumann encourages all aspiring tattoo artists to complete this step in the career process. “It’s easy nowadays to get the tools you need to start tattooing people before you really know what you are doing,” says Neumann. “I would recommend finding an artist whose style you like and inquire about shadowing them.”
Because skin is so different from paper or canvas, Neumann also shares that even the greatest artists and illustrators struggle with switching to this medium. “Skin is definitely the biggest learning curve when becoming a tattoo artist,” exclaims Neumann. “Everyone’s skin is so different.”
After his apprenticeship, Neumann moved to Los Angeles, where he interned for a comic book company while tattooing on Hollywood Boulevard. For him, his love for animation blended naturally into his tattoo art. His favorite things to design are related to pop culture or movies, and one of his most memorable designs was for his favorite movie, Blade Runner.
Like many others in 2020, the pandemic inspired Neumann to take a leap to follow another lifelong dream of opening his own contemporary art gallery. Memento Mori Gallery, which is set to open in the 40 West Arts District, in Lakewood, CO, in August 2022, will not only be a creative space for local artists and other RMCAD alumni, but will also be home to his own private tattoo studio. The gallery will be a welcomed addition to the already flourishing art district and its First Friday Art Walks.
As he sets out on this new, exciting career journey, Neumann wants to leave students with one additional piece of advice. “As an artist or entrepreneur, take the additional steps to form an LLC,” says Neumann. “I didn’t create an LLC right away and I know people recommended it to me to help with additional protection and taxes. I wish I had done it sooner.”
To learn more about the program that inspired Neumann’s creative career journey, check out RMCAD’s BFA in 2D and 3D Animation.