Jon Clue has been tattooing since 1993, and his work features detailed textures and imaginative designs. In 2000, he teamed up with fellow tattoo artist Guy Aitchison to help a firefighter cover up a large skin graft.
I talked to Clue about the work, tattooing scar tissue, and the ways tattoo artists help people reclaim their bodies. The interview that follows has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Rose Eveleth: What’s the backstory behind this tattoo?
Jon Clue: This tattoo was done on a client with heavy skin graft from serious burn injuries during a firefighter-drill accident. He asked for some biomechanical-looking imagery similar to what he saw in the portfolios of my own work as well as the artist who I also collaborated on the project with.
Eveleth: What was the biggest challenge in doing this tattoo?
Clue: The biggest challenges were working with the extremely textured skin, it had very pronounced “peaks and valleys” which we had to follow particularly when doing the lines.
Eveleth: Can you tattoo over all scars?
Clue: I'd like to say most scars are “coverable.” I put that in quotes because when working with scar tissue it’s more about hiding the scar within texture areas of the composition more than the usual covering of an image.