Bzzzzzzzzzz…. Bzzzzzzzzzz… The fledging tattoo artist dabs his tattoo machine into the black ink with Jay-Z and Kanye West blaring in the background.
He grabs Andrew Lucia’s wrist and tells him to stay still. Andrew winches as the machine touches his skin.
“More, more,” Lucia tells the tattoo artist, saying he was being too light with it.
“It’s important to have the person I’m tattooing tell me if I am not going hard enough or that I am pushing in too hard,” the artist said . “I don’t have the experience yet to know they have to tell me.”
Twenty minutes later, the tattoo is done and reads “Lucia,” in big letters on his wrist in all black.
“It’s sick I like it a lot,” Lucia said. “It was pretty intense while he was tattooing me but worth it.”
Enter Jake Firlik a 20-year-old aspiring tattoo artist who loves to draw and has been honing his craft by tattooing friends – and himself.
“The key is to be very sanitary. I have to make sure everything is fresh and not tampered with,” Firlik said. “I have to wipe down everything and wear gloves throughout the whole process.”
When he was young, Firlik moved around with his mother to New Jersey and Massachusetts before settling in Concord, NH. At 14, he then moved to Vergennes, Vt. to live with his grandparents after his mom moved in with her new boyfriend and didn’t have room for Jake to live comfortably with them. So from that point on, Vergennes was home and he attended high school at Vergennes High School.
It was at that time in his life that he began messing around with art and became more and more serious with it throughout high school.
“He has always displayed artistic ability,” Jake’s grandmother Cecile said. “All through high school and even middle school he was recognized by his teachers and us for his art.”
Firlik said he also loves to play basketball, play video games and hang with friends, but his passion is art.
“I love to draw,” Jake said. “My favorite things to draw are Jack Nicholson, Lebron James and Kid Cudi, I draw them a lot actually.”
The revelation to become a tattoo artist came during the first weeks of summer after his senior year in high school.
“I got my first tattoo in the beginning of my senior year, the word ‘Live’ on my left wrist and then a blue octopus on my left forearm during the summer after my senior year,” he said. “I took a semester off after high school and decided that I wanted to become a tattoo artist and that an art major would help me with it.”
He has since finished his blue octopus by surrounding it with the ocean and sea life. It’s his favorite tattoo because he has put so much money and time into it. Firlik has also done two tattoos on himself, a diamond on the inside of his left knee and a rose on the inside of his right knee.
“My rose on my knee really shows how I have progressed as an artist,” Firlik said. “It was real tough to do and took a while, but I think it came out great.”
Firlik has tattooed a few different friends across campus including Lauren Thompson, who got the word ‘Wisdom’ in blue ink on her wrist.
“Compared to someone who had had the training and experience, Jake is very talented, professional and artistic,” said Thompson who has five other tattoos. “He still needs some more experience, but when he gains that he will be one of the best in my opinion.”
Ethan Burke also was tattooed by Him. He got the word ‘Satan’ in block letters on his thigh.
“He did it in a professional manner and I felt comfortable,” said Burke who also has a number of tattoos. “I knew it was all safe and sterile, he’s got a promising future in tattooing.”
Firlik likes the compliments and said he doesn’t plan to sop learning and improving.
“It is so pleasing after you see what the finished product looks like,” Jake said. “You are definitely happy with yourself.”