The Artist: Bastien Jean [NYC Feature]

Bastien Jean, tattoo, tattoo artist, the okey dokey, east river tattoo, nyc, brooklyn, toronto

Name: Bastien Jean

Profession: Tattoo artist (Currently doing a guest spot at East River Tattoo, Brooklyn, USA. Check his instagram for his latest whereabouts.)

Instagram: @bastienjean

The Story

I first got to know about Bastien Jean through my friends, Chris and Andrew, through instagram-stalking they had gotten to know that Bastien was in New York and recommended I insta-stalk him too. Who would have known, in less than a week, I’d be sitting face to face with the man.

Google Maps comes to the rescue as I exit the subway onto the streets of Brooklyn, looking for directions and the path I should take to East River Tattoo. I check the time, 15 minutes to walk 5 blocks before my appointment with Bastien Jean at 4pm. It is cold, dark and raining, I waste no time walking those 5 blocks.

As I enter the shop, I am greeted by vintage wooden floors, antique cupboards, well seasoned bottles and lots of great art pieces hanging from the walls with taxidermic animals all around. Strung together perfectly with a very much nautical flaire.

“Hi i’m Shannon and how may I help you?” I hear, just as I escaped the cold and closed the door.

Turning back, I reply with a shivering hello and that I was looking for Bastien Jean. Shannon casually tells me to wait by the couch as Bastien was having his lunch, his previous tattoo session finished not too long ago. Taking a seat, notebook in hand, I double check that I have the interview questions ready and try to thaw myself from the horrid cold outside.

It didn’t take long before I was called and standing before me in his short sleeve grey teeshirt and jeans was Bastien. As he stretched out his hand to introduce himself I couldn’t help but notice that both his arms were tattooed, solid black, something different from all the tattoo artist that I have met before. It was unique and intriguing.

Bastien Jean is a French tattoo artist that I met whilst on his guest spot at East River Tattoo, Brooklyn, USA. He has been tattooing for 5 years now. Previously for the last 8 he was working at as piercer / body modifier in a tattoo shop.

The Interview

Recalling how he got into tattooing, in his French-American accent, Bastien’s reply was:

“As I was already into the tattoo scene (working at a tattoo shop as a piercer), I was constantly surrounded by tattooist. I would always remember the first tattooist of the shop I was working at, he was 60 years old and deep into celtic stuff. Which was a style that I didn’t fancy much. I was more into the works that Yann Black did, and thats whom I got my black sleeves from. That session got me thinking about the possibilities of being a tattooist and a few years down the road, a good friend of mine, Guy Le Tattooer, offered me the opportunity to join him in Toulouse. I was stoked and gave an immediate YES!”

His decision to become a tattoo artist was aided from his immersion into sub-cultures, since he was 18. Body modification, skateboarding, vintage motorcycles, music and rave parties are some of the scenes that Bastien was involved in.

“These sub-cultures were strongly linked to tattoos, the opportunity for me to become part of the scene and contribute to it is very satisfying. Guy Le Tattooer and other tattoo artist friends have taught me well, trick by trick.”

The Style

Bastien’s style typically revolves around a traditional style that consist of bold clean lines, traditional imagery and recently excelling with his portrayal of flowers. His decision and influence was built upon traditional classic flashes as they were not very popular in France. Additionally also because flash work is usually fast.

“I like when tattoos are quick, not saying that I rush through a session, but I can’t imagine doing a back piece that would take 20 sessions! But in actual fact, I have done back pieces before! Hahahaha, so don’t judge me!”

The Experience

In preparation for this interview, as with all interviews, I did more research on Bastien’s portfolio. I was immediately drawn to the lines and the imagery of Bastien’s drawing and style, which my girlfriend describes as old-school tattoos meets stained glass with a contemporary twist. During our email correspondences, I also arranged for a tattoo session with Bastien.

Our interview and consultation melded into one ball of a conversation. Throughout, he kept the mood friendly, open and casual. The time I spent with Bastien has been one that I would describe as being more of a friendship as compared to just being a customer / interviewer. His patience in assuring what I wanted was met by allowing me to choose from 2 designs that he drew based on our discussion about what I was intending to get. The 2 designs that was drawn was between a hand facing outward or inwards, the one I chose was it facing palm out. (bacon hand inspired yea Bastien!)

Bastien’s commitment to ensuring that every one of his clients gets what they imagine is one of his attributes I would say. Something that truly unique and personal to each individual should be always uncompromising and perfected.

“The biggest lesson for me that i have learnt through tattooing would be to always keep a cool head and not let ego take over me. There’s a difference between taking advantage of situations and opportunities as compared to showing off.”

Bastien is currently doing a guest spot at East River Tattoo, Brooklyn, New York with an upcoming stint in Chicago, Las Vegas and San Francisco in January 2014. With possible future plans of moving to  Toronto to be based at The Okey Doke Tattoo shop.  Thus, to stay up to date with his whereabouts, do follow him on instagram.

Hopefully he would be able to make a trip to asia and Singapore. In the mean time, take care my friend and all the best always!

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The Tattoo Treasury

2 Responses to “The Artist: Bastien Jean [NYC Feature]”
  1. Matt says:

    Very cool!!

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  1. […] Complete story and interview here : […]

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