May I introduce to you, Jeff Ward: Tattoo Extraordinaire.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jeff since back in the day and his great successes have yet to put a dent into his bigger than life personality.
Born in Chicago and raised in the burbs, Jeff Ward began doing small work on the neighborhood kids somewhere around 14. He made it legal at 20 after securing his first tattooing job with Rising Phoenix.
Originally, known as Lake Street Tattoo, Jeff had been “laughed out of the shop”. After new ownership took over, he gave it another try and recalls his mom driving him over; along with his sketch book. “Chad took a big chance on me. The people at Rising Phoenix took a chance on me”, he says humbly.
Before diving head first into what has become his fascinating career, thus far; he says, “I definitely didn’t think I’d make money tattooing. I was real punk rock at that time and I always knew I’d do something that would make me happy”.
Well, his perseverance and passion paid off. Jeff next moved to, the highly respected, Top Notch Tattoos and says, “150% the reason why I’ve gotten any jobs, especially Top Notch Tattoos is because I was willing to listen and learn. I think these people saw I had a desire to be good”.
“You have to have the desire. The minute I’m interested, I want to absorb everything. I’ll ask a million questions. People are are like, shut up. For real!” If that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.
His biggest break came in 2007, when fellow MI tattooer, Dennis Halbritter referred him to an opportunity to work with the brilliant Kat Von D of the famous Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo. Jeff appeared on Ms Von D’s hit show LA Ink, where he tattooed Stephen Baldwin live and has since developed an even greater following.
Youtube video via TLC
“It has the classic Baldwin eyes”. That line is classic. He adds that one of his most loved aspects is meeting all the different walks of life and hearing their tales. He mentions how inspiring he finds them all.
Jeff’s style is what I would call a cross between: grunge, country rock and motorcycling “good ol’ boy”. His reply to that was, “Yea, I appreciate that; I’ll take that.” He typically leans towards a t-shirt, is a G Star denim addict, favors Nike limited edition styles, incorporates some layering and effortlessly rocks various headwear. Although he swears to not be label focused and will wear anything, he is definitely loyal to his Carrera sunglasses.
I want this shirt in my closet. Designed by Agatha Blois. Her work is so unique and original, love it! For purchasing inquiries, appointment requests for custom pieces, email email@example.com www.agathaleather.net
Behind the beard is the most friendly and contagious smile that you will ever come across; he also boasts a Midwest heart of gold under that coveted blanket of ink. The wit to ward (get it, Ward) off anyone who comes his way and a sense of humor that can make a grown man blush.
Jeff is super close to his family, especially his brother Kyle who is an outstanding tattoo artist in his own right. When asked if Kyle was inspired by him, the reply was, “I inspire him no more than he inspires me. We’re like a teeter-totter. He’s gone and learned Japanese tattooing from Jack Moser. He has been to Japan twice and that is his specialty”.
This story would not be complete without mentioning Aldo. Aldo is Jeff’s 22 lb, 32 inch (minus the tail), F2 Savannah cat. Did I mention he’s obsessed with him? Jeff adds, “He’s the best cat ever. I’m a huge cat nerd and it’s borderline unhealthy. I sound like a crazy person”. I would personally say he is a pretty neat and eerily human. He was also an inspiration for his very own Belin masterpiece and has made numerous appearances on YouTube. See for yourself.
Belin in action. YouTube video via Deadmau5
“What are your goals for the upcoming future?”, I ask. Without a hesitation he answers, “Boy. You picked a strange time to ask me that. To be honest I’m happier than I’ve ever been. It’s kind of scary but I’m really content”. He continues, “We’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. I never want to be the best. I want to keep up. Guys are getting so good, so quick”.
When tying up the conversation, I want to know something unexpected. In typical Jeff Ward fashion and out of left field, he calmly says, “I knit.” Of course he does. Silly me.
Follow Jeff Ward on Instagram: jeffdraw
To schedule an appt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo.
In West Hollywood @ corner of Fountain and LaBrea
Follow Belin on Instagram: belin_ogt