During this weekend's tattoo expo in Saratoga, Q103 made an appearance and I got to do a quick interview with the lovely and sweet Jessica Gahring- model and manager of the Wooster Street Social Club, which is the basis for TLC's NY Ink, which stars Ami James, Tommy Montoya and Chris Torres. I got to catch up with her and was surprised (in a good way) by a few of the things she said.

Background Check

Ms. Gahring was born and raised in Vestal, NY, an urban town of about 28,000 in southern New York, almost exactly on the Pennsylvania border. She is the oldest of three girls, and says she was made into the well-balanced person she is today because of her parents. She was artistically influenced by her father, while her mother made her a strong, positive and independent person with amazing traits. She attended Russell Sage College and then went on to SUNY Albany for her Master's. I thought it was cool we have the same Alma mater, although my presence at SUNY was strictly undergraduate. She has a B.A. in Sociology: Global Cultures & Inequalities and an M.S. in Educational Administration & Policy Studies. She also has a seven-year-old daughter. Her website states:

Jessica took a couple of jobs in Higher Education for “normalcies” sake while her daughter was young but it was creativity that ultimately won the battle. Jessica left Higher Education in 2007 in pursuit of her artistic endeavors. Jessica credits her love and passion for tattoos to her long time tattoo artist and friend, Chip Beam, owner and artist of Artifex Tattoo in Vestal, NY.

In 2010, Jessica met up with Ami James, shared her portfolio with him and soon after became his new tattoo shop's manager, with an ultimate desire to be a tattoo artist- an aspiration that she is currently living out. She is residing locally and gets to do what she loves- create art and make people happy.

Meeting Face-to-Face

The first thing I noticed about Jessica was that her hair was blonde. She is most often donning brunette or dark-colored hair, but the blonde fit her just the same and she looked just as beautiful. She took time out of her busy three-day tattooing weekend to talk with me. She is tattooing full-time now and even though she hasn't been doing it for very long, claims it's "not her first ride on the pony show." She has been an artist all her life, and often touches base with close friend Lydia, who is another local, very impressive artist who has made her way throughout New York.

I was curious as to how, if at all, her running of the tattoo shop in the City was affected by her education. She claimed it wasn't too much and that she just went at it and didn't treat it differently from anything else. She went into the job with great experience- not only with her degrees but also with her prior employment as a mid-level manager in the banking field. Here, she was able to "gain greater insight into the financial side of running an effective business," according to her website. This, paired with her natural talent and creative abilities made her the perfect match for Ami and his shop.

The second season of NY Ink just concluded last month, and I asked Jessica what the shop was like when the cameras were off. She stated that it was a little bit different and like "life amplified." Any environment would be somewhat different when you add cameras into the mix, and some of the happenings that can occur on the show do because it's good for television, but that's true with any reality show. Jessica mentioned that she got to work with and be exposed to such informative and "amazing people-" her eyes lit up as she spoke.

As the interview ended, since we were at a tattoo convention after all, I asked Jessica which one of her many tattoos was her favorite. She said she honestly didn't have a favorite because they were all special and all meant something to her. However, she was first inked at age 18 (butterfly), and her first three tattoos are now covered up with another. I then reciprocated with what was her favorite tattoo she has done on someone else. Again, she could not pick a favorite because they're all special, but claimed she loves it when a customer gives her complete freedom.

Memories Inked in Stone

Jessica then told me the story of when Dave Navarro and friend came into the shop, as famous people often

did, and he wanted her to tattoo him. She was very excited and flattered, only Ami wouldn't let her do it. Maybe one day he will show up in whatever shop she's working at and will give her that chance again.

She also mentioned that Theory of a Deadman was one of her all-time favorite bands and that she has front man Tyler Connolly's signature tattooed on her stomach. She said how she liked his style, especially his hairdo. She also stated that she helped cross-produce their newest album The Truth Is... with their record company in New York City. She was even approached by several people the question of whether or not she was the motivation behind the album's cover, as it features an animated version of a devilish, dark-haired pin-up girl with a bunch of tattoos and fishnets on. I can see where people would think this. She said she wasn't the motivation, but hey, a girl can dream- after all, her dream of becoming a tattoo artist came true.

Check out Jessica Gahring: