Artist Jason Freeman

8:59 AM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

This past Friday we had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of Reno's long-standing tattoo artists,  Jason Freemon. The history he gave us on the face of tattooing in Reno was invaluable and we felt honored that he shared part of his story with us.

Immediately upon walking into Triumph Tattoo where Jason was the owner for three years, until handing it over to co-worker Tyler Lunt, Jason has definitely left his mark. With stencils hanging on the ceiling from several unique tattoos he's done over the years, to a rather large leather portfolio that sits on the coffee table out front, Jason's style and art are everywhere you look.

From the time he got his first tattoo when he was 14-years-old, Jason has made tattoing his life. Despite his dad's attempt to remove his first tattoo with lemon juice and brillo pad, the tattoo remained and so did his love for the art. Apparently, his brother  got the worst of it that night - OUCH!!

Originally from the Bay Area, Jason's first real job as a tattoo artist was in Santa Cruz at Curiousa Tattoo Shop that was once the comic book store on the movie Lost Boys.
Jason later moved to the Bay Area where he wound up buying and selling FTW Tattoo Parlor in Oakland before he moved to Reno in 2001.

This is not your sub-par tattooer people, Jason's work is bar-none some of the best in the business. As a full-time custom tattooer who specializes in traditional Americana and Japanese genres, Jason has been in Reno for 14 years and has quite a legacy in town.

Take for instance his attempt a few years ago to beat the Guinness Book of World Record's Most Tattoos in 24 Hours By A Single Artist. While Kat Von D may have brought to light the record, she was only able to do 400 tattoos and Jason came close to the current record holder, with a final total of 704 tattoos.  The record is currently held by Matt Geigamah of Salt and Light Tattoo in Chandler, Arizona with 811 tattoos. What makes Jason's attempt  even more unique is that he offered 11 different designs where others only offered one.

"It was a great event," Freeman said, "Unannounced to the general public, it was also a benefit for my good friend Kevin Cox of Aces Tattoo who was in an accident that left him partially paralyzed. I was able to raise $5,000 to donate to him in 24 hours, with the help of my staff and 35 volunteers. My face was focused on the tattoos and I never got a break but it was a great night with great people in a great city!"

After the event, Jason offered free touch ups on all tattoos done that day and if a customer wanted to add color or rework the tattoo into something different, he offered that for $20.

Freeman's work has traveled the world, with one piece in the Horiyoshi III Yokohama Tattoo Museum in Japan. With extensive knowledge and background in the industry, his work displays clean lines and classic bright, bold colors that distinctly define the styles.

 Although Freeman attributes some of  the boom in business to Kat Von D, he is not a fan.

"I think she has no respect for tattooing, she uses it as a hustle to make herself rich." Freeman said. In Freeman's mind, there's probably a better way to go about highlighting the business than the way her show does it.

The approach that fellow tattoo artists come into the business of tattooing is important to Freeman who spent time reaching out to Mayor Cashell at a time when Cashell first proposed a six-month moratorium on any new bars or tattoo shops in 2011 until stronger restrictions might be introduced.

"I'm not one for regulations," Freeman said, " Don't get me wrong. But when it comes to as many shops that we have in the area, something's got to give."

Freeman put together a proposal for Cashell that loosely outlined a way for the city to earn money with revenue from quality tattooers and hinder, even stop, the pop up tattoo shops from continuing to open doors for business. His proposal would basically grandfather in those shops already in operation but open the future of tattooing in Reno to an apprentice program and higher standards overall.

"Anyone can put up shop and anyone does," Freeman said, " Basically, I was trying to propose an apprentice system that would be licensed through the Health Department."

Although Freeman never heard back from the Mayor after several times contacting him, Freeman still believes that there should be some standards in the industry.

“Some people don’t really know what a good tattoo from a bad one is.” Jason said. “ What they should be asking a tattoo artist is how good is your work is, not how much it is.  Some people understand it but some people don’t. A lot of people just want a cheap tattoo but most people want the best for the cheapest and don’t understand it takes time and talent.” 

His most challenging tattoo of late was one he did recently of a Stephen Hawkings equation. Just the size of the numbers was difficult to do well on the wrist that was requested.

“I’d much rather do back pieces or any piece really.” Freeman said.

The only contest and award he’s ever gone out for, he won first place at the Salt Lake City Convention,  – 1st place for full back pieces. 

What’s kept Freeman tattooing for 22 years is the freedom on the job and the people who have come into his life along the way. 

“I get to do what I want to do, I get to do my art," Jason said, " I’ve met all sorts of different people and I’ve been able to travel around the world with my art.”

Back in 2001 at a  Pittsburg convention, Freeman and Lee Hannah of Dixie Rose Shop met and started talking about Reno. At that time, there were only four tattoo shops in Reno including Body Graphics, Sting Ray, Aces, and Pirate. They began to formulate what is now known as the Lady Luck Convention.  

Freeman remembers when they had an art gallery of almost every painting in his book R.I.P at the first one. The convention was a hit from the first year it arrived in Reno and Freeman sold every painting in the gallery. Triumph Tattoo will have a booth again this year.  In regard to the Lady Luck Convention,  Freemans says, “It’s a fun place to hang out. If you really want to get a tattoo, this is a great chance to get tattooed. "

Besides keeping busy with tattooing, Freeman has written several books on the craft including R.I.P which is a compilation of artwork from tattooers around the United States and the pieces deal mainly with death, hence the title. He has also  written another series of IMagazines called Wolf Wizard which has a feature tattooer, tattoo model, subculture section and painting section.

This year, Freeman will have 50 art pieces in the new gallery that is now at Lasting Dose Tattoo (formerly known as Nightmare) the entire month of May so be sure to check that out.

Some of Freeman's many inspirations for artists include; Derek Noble, Richard Stell, Theo Mindel –  Uzi, and Josh Palmer.

Outside of tattooing on people, Jason likes to ride his motorcycles with friends down to Los Angeles or Mexico. He also has his tattoo books on Itunes and his Wolf Wizard series on Itunes as well. He has a 9 yr old son who is a "badass" and goes to conventions with him. 

If you are looking for a piece of history about the city of Reno as well as getting an amazing tattoo from a bit of legend then Freeman is your guy. 

You can find him at 

Triumph Tattoo
241 W. 2nd St.
Reno, NV 

Jen and No..el <3