The best art is indelible. Context matters little in the grand scheme of things. Art of–and for–a specific time and place will endure, whether a product of a tortured, laborious process, like Michaelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or of a strike of inspiration, like Duchamp’s Dadaist masterstroke, Fountain.
While they are as mortal as the humans who wear them, tattoos represent an art form that’s relatively everlasting. And like other mediums, tattoos can be arduous undertakings reflective of profound inspiration. Or, they can be slapdash creations, nods to inside jokes shared between friends, or wholly arbitrary. Once applied, though: There they are. There they remain. Forever. Until ashes to ashes, dust to dust, etc. And so it goes.
It’s that finality that makes Myra Oh, Void reader’s choice for #1 Tattoo Artist in the 904, take tattooing as serious as she would if she were applying swaths of paint to Pope Julius II’s ceiling. But instead of creating frescoes 70-stories above the ground, Oh is making great art while poking customers with her tattoo gun at her Jacksonville storefront, Swan. Known for her masterful line work and grayscale designs, Oh’s canvases are the epidermises of 904 residents. And she’s leaving a permanent mark on Northeast Florida.
We caught up with Oh and asked about how the region inspires her work.
Does a great region need great tattoo artists? Why or why or not?
Yes, I think so. Tattoo artists create designs that people will wear forever, and whatever the reason they might be getting tattooed, out of appreciation for the artist or tradition, to commemorate a life event, or in memory of someone/something, it’s nice for people to be able to get quality work they can be proud of.
Are there artists in the region that inspire you?
Eric Blair of Diadem Tattoo and Jeremy Swed of Inksmith & Rogers have always been two great mentors to me, and I really appreciate the support they have shown me over the years.
Does North Florida–the outdoors, the community, urban environs–inspire you as an artist?
Absolutely, I love how supportive this community is of it’s local artists and merchants. Watching people pursue their dreams with the full support of the community inspires me to do more to grow as an artist and business owner.
Are there things that people want to get tattooed here in Northeast FL that maybe people wouldn’t ask for in other regions?
Citrus and orange designs.
What’s the best tattoo you have ever seen on someone? What’s the worst?
I’m not sure, I’ve seen too many great tattoos to pick just one as the best, and I try not to be too critical of other people’s work.
A rogue group has taken over the city government of Jacksonville and has threatened to ban all tattooing. You have to convince them of its inherent cultural value by giving their leader a tattoo. What would you give her?
A rose, because it’s a classic, and one of my favorite designs to tattoo.
Here are the complete results of our #1 in the 904 poll for Arts, Music, and Media:
Album (Full-Length Release)
Mr. Al Pete “Mr. Peterson’s Neighborhood”
Burn After Reading @ Space 42
Babes Who Hustle
Blues / Jazz Club
Blue Jay Listening Room
Mermaid Coral Beth
tie: 5 and Dime, Players by the Sea
Firewater Tent Revival
Myth Night Club
Tie: Nick Fresh, Geexella
Facebook Page (business)
Babes Who Hustle
Instagram account (business)
Issue of Void Magazine
35 Under 35
Live Music Venue
1904 Music Hall
Local Maker (candle, woodworking, etc)
Southside Candle co.
Local TV Station
Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
Musician (Solo Artist)
Firewater Tent Revival
Mel from 97.9
97.9 KISS FM
Wolfson equipment and records
Song (Artist + song title)
Firewater Tent Revival – Wingnut
Sports Radio Station
Void Surf Report
Myra Oh (Swan Tattoo)
San Marco Train
Web Developer / Mobile App Developer
Adam Boulware – Mad Men