Jo Lynn Cepeda, 28, is the sole artist and owner of White Rabbit Tattoo Parlour in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Open since April 2012, Cepeda runs an exclusively custom shop, excelling in 3D realism and color tattoos, made to fit her clients personality perfectly. Increasingly in demand, Cepeda took the time to answer some of Tattoo.com’s questions, read below:
Hey Jo Lynn, tell us a little about yourself; where you grew up, some of your hobbies?
I grew up in Midland, AR a town of 250 people. I am a single mother of 2 children, have two beautiful sisters and amazing parents. I love motorcycles, Harley Davidsons in particular.
Why did you start tattooing? Who or what inspired you?
In the beginning, a tattoo artist by the name of Eddie Smith let me watch him tattoo, but I never thought that I was able to make that my career. Later on, I met someone who led me to believe I could pursue a career in tattooing, my aunt saw a licensed school in Fort Smith so I turned in my art portfolio and after completing the course I received my tattoo license. After two years in that shop I was blessed with the opportunity to have my own shop.
Elaborate a little bit on that, what made you pursue tattooing as a career?
To be honest, the guy I was dating was tattooing out of his house and I knew that I could do a better job. He refused to let me try so I just bought my own set up and started practicing on my younger sister. I have always been an artist and this was the only way I was capable of getting my talent noticed.
From your experience, how has tattoo culture changed and where do you see the industry headed in the future?
Although there is still meaning to peoples tattoos, not everyone knows the origin of the industry. Hopefully the culture of tattoos just keeps allowing people to be individuals and telling their story of their lives. Only speaking from what I know where I am at, I would love for the artists in the industry to work as a team, as I see the more known artist do, instead of against each other.
Are there any tattoo artists you really admire or look up to?
Do you think tattoos have gone mainstream with so many tattoo reality tv shows around? If so, is this a bad thing?
As long as tattoos are still in demand and getting the proper attention needed to be executed properly then I have no problem with the shows or “mainstream” part of it.
Do you have a memorable tattoo story, incident or client? What's your wildest tattoo story?
A memorable tattoo on myself is my excruciating side piece of the island of Guam, where my father is from, and some flowers native to Guam with my last name. Client wise, the wildest tattoo I have done, not story because it was strictly for entertainment, was an anatomically correct, realistic lady’s private part in a man’s armpit. Gross, but hilarious!
What do you think was your biggest break in tattooing thus far? What are some of your goals, now and in the future? What have been some of your biggest challenges? How'd you overcome them?
Being able to open my own shop and stay booked three months ahead is beyond anything I have ever imagined. Being a female artist is a challenge within itself, and being young and new along with being on my own now, I would not have been able to do it without the support from my family, friends and especially my loyal clients.
If you could sum up your philosophy or outlook on tattooing in a sentence...
Tattooing is more than a hobby, or job, it is a love of art and connection between you, as the artist, and your client. It is to be taken seriously and cautiously.
Any comments on how your work has affected your clients' lives?
Along with the hundreds of friendly texts I receive on a daily basis, I’ve been given a lot of hugs, and seen a lot of sentimental tears, so I can only assume I have affected them in a positive way.
Thanks Jo Lynn Cepeda, it’s always awesome to hear it all from a female’s persepctive, and with the talent to boot, we’re sure your success will keep on going. Check out White Rabbit Tattoo Parlour at 11 South 5th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas.