Jaclyn Greb has been tattooing at Hart & Huntington in Las Vegas since she finished her 11-month apprenticeship. That was years ago. Now she’s known for being good at almost every style of tattoo art, something she attributes to getting her start with H&H.
I’ve spent my entire career at H&H, where they do a very good job of keeping you well-rounded. Back in the old days, we used to mainly get walk-ins, so you never knew what style you’d be sketching that day. It made me want to try to perfect every single one. It keeps you on your toes!
Now that she’s had time to try her hand at everything from Traditional to Black-and-Grey, she’s developed a love for technical line work and illustrations – ones that are going to age well.
I just want my work to be technically sound and to have longevity – that’s one consistent thing throughout my career even if I don’t have a preferred style.
Art has always been a huge part of Jaci’s life, so it’s no surprise that she’s dedicated to her craft. She was just 15 when she sketched her first tattoo.
I was in high school when I was first introduced to tattoo art. It was just becoming more mainstream and accessible to everyone. I’d doodle ideas for my brother’s friends and they’d go get them inked.
The defining moment when she knew she wanted to make a career as a tattoo artist came when she sketched a giant back piece for one of his friends: their last name in baseball stitching.
He went and got it tattooed by one of the best artists in town and still has it on him to this day. That sealed it for me. It was an amazing feeling. I knew I wanted to make this my job, my life.
She thrived during her apprenticeship, relishing the hard grunt work.
I got to be around my mentor all day, every day, soaking up as much knowledge as possible. I was at community college at the time, so I’d work in my off hours trying to build my portfolio. I was lucky, my mentorship was a super enjoyable experience.
Soon after, she signed a gig at H&H.
I was like a bird leaving the nest. You try to fly and fall flat on your face!
She was slammed at the shop, dealing with a high volume of clients every day.
There was so much I thought I knew. I was overly confident, often getting ahead of myself. I learned so many new things I didn’t expect, like how to be calm when you approach every tattoo, no matter how busy it is in the shop or how complex the request is.
She spent her early years in the trenches, learning as much as humanly possible with every passing day. And it paid off. Her grey-wash shading remains some of the smoothest in the industry.
I shade how my mentor taught me. It’s a challenge to see how smooth you can get things. It’s taken me years to figure out a system that will heal and hold up well. Slow and steady does it.
Wisdom comes with experience. That’s what she’d tell her future apprentices.
I’d beat the technical stuff into their brains, no problem. But I’d also hope they’d learn to treat every project they do with the same amount of effort, and every single customer with an immense amount of respect. It’s very easy to be a brat when you’re a tattoo artist. I’d teach them to realize just how lucky we are to have this as a career, as a lifestyle.
Now that she’s more than mastered the basics, her biggest challenge comes in the form of managing expectations.
People come into the shop with ideas of what they want tattooed, things they’ve found on social media that just aren’t technically possible, have been photoshopped and won’t age well. I have to approach those situations with a sense of calm and explain why we can’t do it.
Instead, she guides them and adapts their vision into something feasible that’ll look great for years to come.
They usually appreciate the honesty, that we’re not just trying to take their money and slap something on them that won’t look good in the long run.
It’s this level of integrity that makes Jaci such an imperative member of the H&H Las Vegas team. She goes above and beyond to make each and every one of her customers happy. Like the other day, when she wasn’t on shift but got an email request for a tattoo.
It was for a Star Trek patch like on the characters’ uniforms, complete with all the stitching. It was a small, simple chest piece, but it was one of my favorite tattoo experiences ever. The guy was so happy with the finished product, he couldn’t stop staring at it in the mirror. It was the best feeling to see how much he loved it, how much it meant to him.
When you work at a place like H&H, you get to meet people from all over the world.
I love Hart & Huntington. Working here has allowed me to do my best work for people from all walks of life with cool backgrounds and stories. And I’ve made some of my closest friends here too. It’s such a huge part of my life. It’s a place that has helped me in more ways than one and encourages me to show up and do my best.
To this day, Jaci still loves traditional training drills. Pushing herself past perfection.
I’m motivated to do better every day. To be the best technician possible.
But she doesn’t want to be remembered for being the best.
I want to be remembered as someone who really cared about every single project, every single speck of my work. That I tried so hard to put all I could into every single piece. That’s really what matters most.