5 Treehouse Youth Learn Art of Tattooing from Jude le Tronik

By Jesse Colman, Special to Treehouse

Please note that this took place before the pandemic. Social distancing and other safety measures such as masks were not yet in place.

Top tattoo artist Jude le Tronik invited five youth impacted by foster care into their Seattle studio, Lilith Tattoo, for a half-day mentoring session. Treehouse youth Jamie, Connor, Naveah, Jadea and Ayanna had all expressed an interest in tattooing as a possible career.

“I love that art can be so many different kinds of things,” Connor said. “I learned that it’s really difficult to be a tattoo artist, but once you find out that that’s your passion, there are people who stick through all this stuff to be able to do what they want to do.”

Jude explained to the youth how tattooing has evolved from a predominantly white male, sailor culture to having more and more female-bodied artists and queer shops. They discussed the science of their craft, the different steps that it takes and even demonstrated tattooing on Angela Griffin, who was then Chief Program Officer at Treehouse.

Jude had each youth draw their own tattoos on stencil paper so they could be temporarily transferred to skin. It was a great opportunity for the youth to see what their own creations might look like as tattoos. Jude was impressed with their skill.

“It was amazing to meet the Treehouse youth,” Jude said. “They are a very creative bunch.”

The youth are all current or former participants in Treehouse’s Graduation Success program, where they’re paired with an Education Specialist to set and achieve goals as they work to graduate from high school.

“Treehouse is an organization that partners with foster kids to help them get places, do things and learn more about what kids want to do with their future,” Ayanna said.

After graduating, participants can choose to continue their work with Treehouse through our Launch Success program. The program provides young people who have experienced foster care with continued support well into their 20s. The goal is for all participants to achieve a degree or other credential, living wage and stable housing.

“I think it is important for youth anywhere to hear that they’re valid and that they should believe in themselves,” Jude said. “The world’s going to tell you that you shouldn’t. There’s going to be a lot of things that beat you down, and you’re going to be down on yourself. But at the end of the day, all that you have to offer the world is yourself and that is the most beautiful gift, because there’s no one else like you.”

Support Treehouse as we partner with youth in foster care to weather the pandemic. Make a gift at treehouseforkids.org/donate.

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About the Author

Jesse Colman is the Sr. Marketing & Strategic Communications Officer at College Success Foundation. He previously served as Public Relations Coordinator at Treehouse and was part of the team that created this video.

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