Inspired by medieval symbology, Instagram feed, Deirdre Jones offers dorm studio ink for student clientel
Tattoos are a popular means of expressing identity and individuality at Lewis & Clark, or simply displaying a toad wearing a funky top hat. Though many opt to head to one of Portland’s many tattoo parlors, LC is a hub for student artists. Deirdre “Dee” Jones ’26 (@no_tomorrows on Instagram) is one of the various tattoo artists operating on campus.
Jone’s tattoos are as whimsical as they are captivating. A glance at her Instagram profile feels like opening up a childhood fairytale book filled with images of graceful unicorns and gentle-looking lambs and hares, interspersed with swords and abstract stars.
“I also find a lot of inspo from medieval art, very specifically this tapestry of a unicorn I saw in person when I was like ten. I’ve been obsessed ever since,” Jones said.
Jones does both hand-poked and machine art. Though she has mostly done line art, she has begun to move into shading. Though she is self-taught and fairly new to tattooing, her stunning artwork does not betray her novice.
“I think I’ve been tattooing for almost two years now,” Jones said. “I got interested in it because I was like, 17, and I couldn’t get tattoos, so I said I’m gonna do my own tattoos.”
Getting into tattooing might seem like a difficult or inaccessible task, but the process was fairly simple for Jones. She purchased a tattoo gun from Amazon and began practicing on synthetic skin, then on herself. Tattooing herself gave her the chance to master depth and technique while also enabling her to get tattoos as a minor. Currently, her tattoo count is around 30.
“(My first tattoo) was this little line butterfly that I did on my ankle,” Jones said. “I had to do it on my ankle to hide it from my mom.”
In addition, the tattoo community has a large online presence, which is also where Jones gets much of her inspiration. One large source of inspiration is fellow artist @trashypartytroll on Instagram.
“You don’t really need to go to a shop to be a tattoo artist, you could just do it through Instagram,” Jones said.
Many current clients have found her through Instagram, which she says is “kinda freaky sometimes.” Like many other student artists, her dorm serves as a makeshift studio. She uses a rotary tattoo machine and coil machine needles when doing stick-and-poke tattoos. One of her favorite tattoos has been a stick-and-poke piece on herself.
“I have this unicorn on my knee that I love so much, it was my first huge piece that I did stick and poke and it took me like, three days, over time because it was so painful. But it was really satisfying,” Jones said.
The standard option for clients is to choose one of her flash designs, which are up for grabs once they are posted to Instagram. A flash tattoo is an artist’s design that is ready to be tattooed immediately, as opposed to a custom request. Some are repeatable, and a few of the most popular designs have been her star and alien designs, though she has a wide variety of original work.
“I just really like when people choose bigger pieces of my flash, because it’s really flattering, but also I just really love doing them …” Jones said. “Especially scenes, I did two deer recently, and I really liked the jumping style.”
In regards to strange requests, Jones described one follower who reached out with a tattoo request after seeing her sketch of a dog-headed female dancer with stars over her breast. They ended up being another tattoo artist, and the two did a tattoo exchange.
“I love the idea of trading art with people,” Jones said.
According to Jones, people interested in getting their first tattoo should know that the first time is the scariest, but after that the pain is negligible. Also, they should ignore the commonly-espoused idea that a tattoo is something to regret.
“The misconception I see is that you’ll regret things that you’ll get,” Jones said. “I just have a really strong opinion on regretting tattoos – if you really like the art at a time, I really don’t think you should ever regret it. Because it’s something that you really loved and you wanted on yourself.”
Artists interested in tattooing, on the other hand, should begin by finding their art style and building a portfolio. Figuring out what they can replicate and how to add unique twists to each piece to avoid repetition is key for artists, since oftentimes people will ask for replicates of a popular style.
As for future plans, Jones hopes to pursue a career within her field of study, mathematics. However, she says that it would be nice to continue tattooing with other artists at a shop on the side. For the time being, her focus is gaining experience and exploring ways to improve the longevity of her work given the permanence of her medium.
“I definitely want to grow in my own art style. I’ve always been kind of interested in American traditional tattoos because I really like the way that they heal and the way that they last really well,” Jones said. “I want to be able to incorporate some of that into my own art.”
People interested in getting tattooed by Jones should fill out the Google form linked in their Instagram bio @no_tomorrows. Their rate depends on size, with small tattoos at $30 minimum and large ones at $70 minimum. To inquire about a custom, direct message them.