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OBA JACKSON | PUSH TATTOO STUDIO


Oba Jackson was somewhere between clients at PUSH Tattoo Studio on Market when the casting agents called. He has spent years making a name for himself locally as an artist and then as a visual designer at Nordstrom. However, it’s his skills with needles and ink that will introduce him to a national audience as the third Delaware tattoo artist to compete on “Ink Master” on the Paramount Network. (Check it out Tuesday nights at 10pm.)

We have questions for Oba:

You were an artist for years before you starting working on skin. How do you describe your style?

“I don't know how to describe it. I always call it a reflection of me. It is graphic, it is ethnic — it’s just a mix of everything that I am. I didn't realize how much tattooing was like painting until 10 months into my apprenticeship. I was like, ‘Hey, why has no one ever told me this is like watercolor, basically?’ When I thought about it in that way, it pushed me along.”

You opened your shop on Market about two and a half years ago. Was appearing on television something that was in your long-term plans?

“No! No, somebody called me asking if I would do it. I asked my husband, and he said yeah you should do it, it's a good opportunity. I felt that the hardest thing was going to be making sure they portrayed me as the kind of person that I am. Behind the scenes was a lot harder than being on camera. It was a constant back and forth with producers, because they're like, ‘Oh, you need to react this way,’ and me, I'm like, ‘OK’ … but wasn’t going to do it.”

The producers must have loved you.

“They probably did not.”

What’s it been like seeing yourself on television?

“We did a watch party for the very first episode, because all my friends literally said ‘We're coming over.’ I was on vacation for the second, and they didn't get the channel there, so I haven’t seen that one yet. But I'm my worst critic. Everything that I see on TV, I internalize it and drive myself crazy. I’m asking, are we going to watch every episode? Because I don't really need to watch them. I was there.”

We’re only two episodes into the season, but has anything in your life changed from being on TV?

“No. No, honestly, it's so weird, but I don't think the show is going to change much for me. I like things the way that I like them, so going on the show took me way out of my comfort zone, and I think that's something that I needed to do. But I feel like I cater to a specific kind of client, and that hasn't changed.”

Who is that kind of client?

“It's usually someone who appreciates artwork. I can tell you actual demographics, if you want to know. About 70% of my clients are women. Their age group varies from 28 to 46. Race is diverse, about 55% black, and the rest is a mix.”

Do you ever see your tattoos when you’re out and about on Market?

“I see them all the time. Wherever I go, I usually run into at least one or two. When I was growing up, if I sold someone a painting, it went to their house and I never saw it again. But now, everyone around me who has my tattoos, I get to look at them. I'll literally grab people's arm. "Lemme see? Lemme see?" I still do it to my husband, and I did a tattoo on him three years ago.”

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