We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse Priest and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jesse, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have always been into art from a young age. the freedom to create what ever I wanted in my drawings. This idea fascinated me I realized i didn’t have to stick to one set standard and the only expectation I had was to impress myself. Around 16 years old my mom saw I was struggling in school hanging out in the streets was more important to me than hanging out in class my mother saw this and basically told me get my act together. she was a huge inspiration and the reason I am where I am today she saw something in me that I didn’t see myself that something was potential she suggested tattooing to me because of my artistic ability. At 17 years old she went and baught me a tattoo kit off the internet and told me get to work. My first tattoo was done on my mother I was terrified but she assured me if I messed it up I could always come back and fix it later Needless to say I butchered it!! But the fact she was ready to wear my art for the rest of her life. that moment planted a seed that grew to being a tattoo artist and shop owner. unfortunately she passed away in January of this year and was never able to fix that tattoo. But I owe it to her every day for pushing me to succeed. Fast Forward to present day I love decorating people’s bodies I’m honored by the fact folks want my art on them for the rest of their lives I change lives, help heal old wounds and give new life to people all by expression of art.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art style is neo traditional though I am verse in all styles neotrad is my go to style I love the bold color I really dig the use of different line weights to help illustrate the design I’m working on.
I am self taught so everything I know was a struggle I didn’t have a mentor to teach me how not to do something so it was really trial and error. I was tattooing friends family and pig skin everyday I grew in my ability to create. I learned there is no right or wrong way to do things it’s all about what works for you. “the thing that separated me from the rest is the fact I didn’t quit”
11 years ago neotrad style was not real big so my style was weird to others little did I know what I was doing was slowly Making its way to a larger scale of artists and acceptance of illustrative tattooing in the main stream. I went to tons of shops here in colorado springs and everytime i would be yold i wasnt what the were looking for. so I decided why beg to sit at a table when I could build my own table and that’s where my shop empire tattoo co. came to light i had no business plan but i had a deposit, and 1st month’s rent on a building mixed with the ambition to be one of the best around.
I’ve have been in business for 8 years now. we are a highly reviewed shop here in town with 5 awesome artists creating works of art every day I’m proud of this brand and the guys I have riding with me
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would definitely have to hit a few taco trucks around here musashis is a great restaurant as well of course they would have a day long session in my chair at empire tattoo co. You can’t go wrong visiting a few of the great breweries we have here in town. during the summer the car shows are always a must hitting pueblo reservoir for some fishing and swimming on a nice day
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank my mother for believing in me and always pushing me forward unfortunately earlier this year she passed away but she was able to see me grow to be the man I am today I dedicate this to her,
my loyal clients you guys are awesome and yal are the driving force for what I’m doing with my art
Also my family my wife and 2 boys, they make this dream of mine possible
Instagram: Personal account @Tattooliganco /shop account @empire.tattoo_colorado