Queer Identity and Tattoos – An Interview with Jordan Lentz of Copperplate Tattoo
As promised in our post about Queer Identity and Tattoos, here’s an interview with Chicago-based queer tattoo artist Jordan Lentz. Jordan can be found at Copperplate Tattoo in Chicago. For contact info, please check out her Instagram bio.
Our creative director Dannie has been tattooed by Jordan and highly recommends her to anyone looking for super realistic nature work.
Tell us about yourself – you, your work, your story, whatever you’d like.
JL: My name is Jordan Lentz and I grew up in Madison, WI. I moved to Chicago in 2010 to work on my BFA at The School of the Art Institute, where I found a love for scientific illustration, ie. diagrams you may see in textbooks, as well as technical drawings of animals, insects, bones, etc. I had always been super interested in tattoos as well, but didn’t really have any access to tattooing in school.
Once I graduated in 2014, I debated moving to LA to pursue horror movie makeup, but I was also actively looking for a tattoo apprenticeship and other work in an art related field in Chicago. I ended up getting a teaching job at a local art center in the Drawing and Painting Department as well as several other odd jobs in Chicago, and I finally landed my first apprenticeship in the city.
I left after about three months when the apprenticeship didn’t pan out, and it took me around a year to get another apprenticeship in the city at a much larger shop. I apprenticed for around two years and then started guest spotting at other shops and that’s how I landed at Copperplate Tattoo!
When I’m not tattooing, I’m probably drawing, watching horror movies, doing outdoorsy things with my partner or cuddling my pitbull baby, Bruce.
Is creating a safe and inclusive space for the queer community important to you as a tattoo artist?
JL: Yes! Our shop is very queer friendly and one of our main goals is to make everyone feel comfortable and safe while they are visiting the shop!
How do you create a safe space for members of the queer community?
JL: Our goal is to provide a safe and affirming environment and we take special consideration with our LGBTQIA clients. When booking, we ask if the client has any pronoun preferences or specifics we may need to know prior to the tattooing appointment to make the client more comfortable. We are also very familiar with name changes, hormone therapy, etc., so filling out paperwork is less stressful.
Do you feel other artists work to create that same space? Anyone in particular?
JL: Yes, we all work to create this safe space and welcome all bodies. Copperplate Tattoo is a woman-owned business and many of us are queer ourselves!
Do you see queer identity being part of why your clients get tattoos? If so, how?
JL: Yes, I have many clients that want to incorporate their queer identity in the design, whether that is in subject matter, or just wanting to love and adorn their queer bodies with art. I think a lot of queer identifying folks want to reclaim their bodies as their own and feel more comfortable in their own skin and tattooing can be very cathartic.
Do any of your own tattoos relate to your queer identity?
JL: Actually, I don’t think any of my own tattoos do relate to my queer identity, although I’m sure at some point I will get one. Lots of people hold a lot of meaning in their tattoos, while personally, see it as curating a collection of art that happens to be on my body. I think it’s important for people to know that tattoos can hold a lot of meaning, but they don’t have to either. Sometimes, you just want a pretty flower because it’s pretty!
If you could do one thing to bring the queer community and tattoo community closer together, what would it be?
JL: I see a lot of new Women- and Queer-owned tattoo shops popping up all over and I hope that the Queer and tattoo community can continue to grow together. For too long, tattoo shops were known to be uninviting, male-dominated, and not queer-friendly, but I think there are a lot of new and upcoming artists that are changing that stigma!