The Tattoo Series: Meet Eva Jean
By Megan Dority — / Lifestyle
Introducing the Tattoo Series
At Death Wish Coffee Company, tattoos are a huge part of our culture and our community. Whether you’re tattooed or not, I think we can all agree that the talent and creativity of tattoo artists far and wide is something we all look up to. After all, putting something permanent on someone's body is no easy feat! We decided to take this curiosity and our love for ink to the next level by collaborating with a wide range of tattoo artists from around the country—all hailing from different backgrounds, different styles, and different coffee preferences to bring you the tattoo series.
What is the Tattoo Series?
This highly caffeinated collaboration shows our undying love of tattoos and the culture that surrounds them. Nine supremely talented tattoo artists from across the country share their flashes of genius—all inspired by coffee—the bold and ever-bountiful elixir of life.
Meet the Artist: Eva Jean
We can’t start a series without the coffee plant, so we started there. Eva’s art is the visual representation of how Death Wish Coffee started...with a cool skull head dreaming of the World's Strongest Coffee! Eva has a beautiful way with florals so that’s why we chose this type of floral to be presented by her work.
Hailing from the Allentown district of Buffalo, NY, Eva Jean Huber sits down and opens up about her art—and her caffeine habit. She's a true flash of genius.
1. Are you a coffee drinker? If so, what’s your favorite roast, and how do you take your coffee?
I am a coffee drinker! I love a medium roast with some type of lightly sweetened plant-based creamer, and I always mix ground cinnamon into the beans when brewing at home.
2. Do you have a favorite coffee shop in Buffalo?
Yes! The Intersection Café is right near my work (Allentown neighborhood), although that's not why I love it. Truly they serve the best cup of coffee in the city and are for the people.
3. What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? Did you always know it was your calling?
Seeing nontraditional-style work that pushed the boundaries of traditional values really intrigued me. There are a few other things that interested me and still do; however, tattooing just worked out at that time, and it's been a long-running love affair ever since.
4. What was your initial exposure to the tattoo world, and when did you first add your own piece of ink to your skin?
My mother has an uncle with “TRUE LOVE” tattooed across his knuckles; I recall seeing him at holiday family gatherings, and that was my first true exposure to tattoo culture. People in my immediate family (years ago—it's a different story today) did not have tattoos, so seeing my great-uncle Norman with them felt very extraordinary. He was a veteran and always smiling.
My first tattoo happened when I was just 16 years of age, and of course, in true rebel fashion, I skipped school early and went with a friend downtown with chalked ID's to get tattooed.
5. When did you know that you wanted to be a tattoo artist? How did you get started in the industry?
After seeing what was possible beyond traditional or "Sailor Jerry style" tattooing and visiting a tattoo studio that embraced and showcased a very creative, artistic environment, I really felt like that was my home and those were my type of people and needed to get involved as soon as possible.
After applying to two separate studios, I worked a healthy number of free hours in one of the shops as general labor: sweeping, mopping, answering phones and helping with some interior contract work, and the position of apprentice was rewarded to me.
6. How long have you been tattooing?
This February 2022 will be 18 years officially.
7. How would you describe your tattoo style and how you got to it?
Illustrative with strong traditional fundamentals. All of the tattoos I am fortunate enough to create are custom designed and drawn by me. I suppose it's just a natural evolution of my own artistic skill set and development from years and years of continuous drawing!
8. Has your style changed over the years?
Hopefully it's become more consistent and better looking—haha! But seriously, just an unrelenting, almost self-punishing desire to keep improving and strive for some level of improvement has hopefully led me to a more refined aesthetic. When you are surrounded by and work closely with other artists, it's inevitable that you are influenced by your surroundings, and I've been really lucky to have had the informal schooling and influence, help and guidance of a lot of really amazing people along the way.
9. Can you tell us about your own tattoos?
Haha—on myself? I have a tattooed body more than a non-tattooed body. I love all of the ones I'm lucky enough to be wearing, and it's a really great litmus test to see who's a judgmental-Judy and who is open-minded and accepting. Also looking forward to being the long grey-haired, witchy-looking, cool, old lady in the coffee shop someday.
10. How many tattoos do you have?
Honestly, it's more like I am 92% covered in tattoo work.
11. What does the process behind your tattoos entail?
My entire existence revolves around creating and making art, so when the process begins is really when I wake up, and naturally, nothing gets moving until the coffee is made. I will sometimes play music or do some light yoga or take a walk and think about the project. A lot of references or sometimes historical research goes into the piece so I can understand what should be prioritized in the design; this also helps me understand and give more meaning to the piece.
It's rarely ever about just sticking something onto someone and taking their money; this is why tattooing can be really exhausting. I am connecting to the person and giving them my full attention, time and sharing space and energy with them, not to mention it's physically taxing at times to sit there for hours and perform mechanically.
Anyhow, typically I'll draw from a few different references and try to not get depressed about what's happening in the world outside of the workplace. I make a rough draft, revise, then final line drawing. Then a stencil is made after client approval, and we take it to my station after that. Sometimes I will do a color study or mock up/paint a final version, but honestly, I've been slacking on that the last few years.
12. What do you like to do outside of the shop?
Being in nature is very necessary for someone like me; whether it's taking a walk, hiking or just lying on a blanket with a good book or some music. When you spend so much time inside and in the northeastern part of the USA, winters here can feel dramatic and make you really appreciate the good, sunny or just temperate days.
13. What’s your biggest pet peeve? Personally and in the shop.
In the shop: people cutting out a stencil in the middle of the stencil paper page and leaving a massive or small hole with weird loose edges and wasting 3/4 of the sheet! Personally, I *sort of can't stand* racist or homophobic people! Like, grow up and stop being a bigot loser and treating humans with less dignity and rights than you. It's so ugly and gives major inferiority vibes.
14. What is your favorite thing about being a tattoo artist?
There is so much freedom that comes with tattooing; autonomy is mandatory in a tattoo shop with every single person that walks in the door. I don't know of too many places like that.
15. What is the tattoo scene like in Buffalo? Amazing. Buffalo in general is a very creative city with a flourishing arts community. It's so cool to see how many tattoo studios are thriving here.
16. What moment in your career are you the most proud of?
Hopefully someday I will know! Maybe one day I'll open my own studio again and it will be then. For now, it's just keeping my head down and focusing on making good work and maintaining positive connections with clientele here.
Her Drink: Medium Roast