In Jayce Wallingford’s Tattoos Stylistic Cohesion Meets Conceptual Clarity


Honoring Jayce Wallingford, an exceptional human being and well respected artist in the tattoo industry – #RIP

Raised on creative juices and keeping the river in flow to this day, Jayce Wallingford of All Sacred Tattoo Studio brings the metaphysical to the surface of the purely physical-quite literally. His black and grey work is consistent from dot work to heavy graphics, catching all the half tones and value changes the image may call for. His imagery ranges in scale but stays true to a common core in that a worldly thing like a hovering bird or open lotus has the same expanse as a mountain landscape or geometric sleeve. It’s stylistic cohesion meets conceptual clarity, a pairing that answers itself without filling in all the blanks, and consequently, keeps us curious.

One crucial thing that defines any image is the way it interacts with the light within. Never mind the spiritual context of that phrase- incredibly, Jayce has that covered too- but on a technical level, his use of light really opens up a medium that is inherently two dimensional. I see it in the halos he creates around things like a bird in midair or the crux of a mandala. There’s one piece in particular that represents that perfectly- a raven atop a shrouded skull, ringed by a sphere that is not in any way filled in, but still emanates a totally different energy than the rest of the skin around it.

Rose and Skull Tattoo

I see this concept of incorporating the untouched spots of the skin into the image as a whole all throughout Jayce’s body of work. I especially love the moments when a circle of bare skin becomes the sun or moon in a piece – and that brings me to the conceptual side of the artist and the themes that carry over from tattoo to tattoo and body to body.

Jayce Wallingford

Jayce’s imagery addresses a place between earth and space, and by that I mean representations of the human experience coupled with the fabric of time and pattern that surrounds it. There are depictions of the human face, as well as animal figures- casual subjects, but given a sort of shamanistic quality that’s emphasized by the ritualistic elements that often adorn them. Pat the obvious spiritual references to Eastern religion like the mandala, the third eye, the lotus etc., Jayce’s portfolio includes a recurring fusion of human and animal and dead and living. The half bone- half flesh image of a puma’s head, for example, uses geometry to equalize the reality of life and illusion of death- or vice versa, if you wish. The skull under a headdress of ram or antelope horns animates the idea of the remnants of what was once living- and the fact that it comes into existence directly on an organism that’s very much alive adds yet another dimension and another layer to question.

It seems to me that Jayce must consider all this either directly or subconsciously as he builds an image, and that portal into the mind of the maker is what draws me into his tattoos in the first place.


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