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JD O’Kelly

“JD O’Kelly has a spiritual connection to tattooing which takes passion for his profession to a whole new level. His working-class attitude paired with the fusion of contemporary and traditional American and Japanese artwork makes for an unparalleled traditional tattooing experience that Norman Collins would stand by.” – HoldFastSJ

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Video Transcript:

The purity that exists when the needle hits the skin is brilliant and sometimes if you can have that purity without it I guess with solitude at the same time to me that is that’s a beautiful thing. I am the owner of Electric City tattoo in Portland Oregon and I do traditional tattoos. [JD is now with us at Anatomy Tattoo!]

I didn’t start tattoo until I was thirty which is pretty late you know by a lot of people’s standards. I didn’t major in art, so you know the real artsy painterly tattooist think ‘who’s this guy’, you know?

But to me it’s like it’s a rebel art form there is a certain vibe to traditional American tattooing – it’s like blues music you know or old country or something like that. It’s kind of a really concise, simple and powerful expression of a thought or a feeling to learn to draw, kind of wrong, intentionally for the purpose of creating an effect.

It’s totally a different beast like there’s a Panther – does it look like a real Panther that you would see in nature? No.

Yeah, that’s why it’s cool now come at this from a pretty blue-collar attitude about tattooing – I don’t want a Bowtique machine made by “Joe famous guy”. I put stuff together and I got these little junkyard dog machines and they do the deal.

To me, authenticity is trying to find a way of how does your individual voice fit within the collective voice. If you can do that then you’re gonna find I think some spark of something real.

It’s like Shane MacGowan said in this interview one time, “I’m happiest when I am fully occupied and fully relaxed and that’s what tattooing is”.


2820 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97232

Shop Hours

Mon - Sat 12 pm - 8 pm
Sunday     12 pm - 6 pm