It is common knowledge that the Adelaide tattoo scene has a significant presence within the world of body art and tattooing, with many artists making a name for themselves in this city, and quite often using it as a platform to launch themselves into their artistic practice. With all the stereotypes, social constructions and opinions that surround the concept of tattooing, many people forget that it is a form of artistic expression and integrity that challenges society and the opinions that form in the world we live in. However, Adelaide is one of the many cities that have embraced not only the concepts of tattoos, but also the artistic minds behind them. One such Adelaide tattoo artist is Jaya Suartika.
Known amongst the tattoo scene for his work with geometric designs under the artist name ‘Jayaism,’ Suartika has become a widely known artist through his tattoo work. His knack for embalming the ‘classic style’ of tattoos while at the same completely going against these traditions has given him an edge that has caught the attention of tattoo lovers on an international scale. Born in Melbourne but with a Balinese background, Suartika says he has been interested in art from a young age. ‘I have always been doing things with my hands and being creative,’ he says, ‘I never really had things like video games to entertain me, so I had to create my own.’ With Balinese culture as part of his heritage and his father also being an artist, Suartika credits these early influences for his unique style. ‘A lot of my childhood surroundings were spent in Bali, where there is art everywhere you look.’
While his signature style has a strong focus on geometric patterns and plays on silhouettes and shapes, the Jayaism designs have many influences. ‘Thomas Hooper was probably one of the main tattoo artists who inspired me to get into tattooing,’ says Suartika, ‘Hooper really made me realize the possibilities that can potentially exist within tattoo.’ His other influences include Picasso’s design language and M.C Escher’s pattern and illusion work, proving that the Jayaism tattoos have a vast bank of inspiration as well as a highly educated perspective. ‘I’m a big fan of shape, form and dedication to precision,’ says Suartika, who describes his own style as a reflection of linear, tribal, abstract, avant-garde, bold, black and pointillism techniques.
The Adelaide tattoo scene has made a known presence for itself within Australia, with many conventions and tattoo shows such as The Australian Tattoo and Body Art Expo and The Adelaide Tattoo Convention coming through increasingly in recent years. ‘Internationally Adelaide is really progressive, and there seems to be a good culture among artists ourselves- where we can communicate ideas and have conversations about tattoo,’ Suartika says of the Adelaide tattoo community ‘I think this is a crucial part to any progression and evolution within the tattooing world.’ Like any growing industry, the Adelaide tattoo market has also changed a lot in recent years and Suartika suggests that it is all about finding new ways to adapt to modern times and fit the needs of customers. ‘Adelaide is definitely getting there,’ he says, ‘you have studios like House of Daggers and XO L’Avant that are having a new approach to how the system is set up and how we communicate with clients, as opposed to the old school walk-in system – which is also not a negative thing either. Just something different.’
While Adelaide can be seen as his launch pad and home in the tattoo industry, his work has also taken Suartika abroad. When he isn’t tattooing an Adelaidian, he can be found inking people all over the world. ‘So far I’ve done Melbourne, London, Berlin, Milan and Paris,’ he says, ‘and in November I will be going to New Zealand for a guest spot in Auckland and a convention in New Plymouth. I also plan to go to America within the next year or so and also back to Berlin and Paris.’ Suartika uses these opportunities to gain more experiences and inspiration for his work and find this in a vast range of mediums. ‘Recently I’ve been exposed to the world of contemporary ballet,’ he says of his travel inspiration, ‘and also in Berlin I went to see some theatre, which was eye opening, especially being all in German.’
Having gained so many experiences through travel and working in different parts of the world Suartika says that being able to experience new countries through work is one of the perks of the job. ‘Being able to tattoo in a new city exposes you to the culture on a different level as it would just being a tourist. You get to function as a person in that particular society.’ He also credits the people that he has met through tattooing as both an influence and a reason for his love of being a tattoo artist. ‘I’ve also made a lot of great friends through tattooing, either tattooing alongside them or tattooing them.’ When asked what the worst thing about being a tattoo artist is, his reply is simply ‘emails.’ Enough said!
Through his tattoo work and expression, the amount of passion and drive behind the Jayaism designs is obvious. With a bold sense of artistic integrity and a genuine eye for that specific Jayaism ‘look,’ it goes without saying that Jaya Suartika is already on his destined journey, which will surely continue to take him from the comforts of Adelaide to the far corners of the earth. ‘I get lost in tattooing,’ he says of his craft, ‘I love the history of it and I love the possibilities of it. I like experimenting and always trying new things.’ While Adelaide has become a strong base for him in terms of tattoo community, networking and industry, Suartika has big plans for his tattooing and is excited to see where else it takes him. He says he hopes to travel more, meet new friends and continue to work on new ideas. ‘I am really trying to do more progressive stuff on a world level,’ he says, ‘I also have some ideas that I will be working on for the Adelaide art culture in the near future.’
Images provided by Jayaism