JD O'Kelly

A Northwest Native, JD is primarily a self-taught artist. He became fascinated (some might say obsessed) with folk and outsider art while studying folklore at the University of Oregon. He graduated cum laude from U of O with a BA in English Literature, and moved to Portland in 1993. He spent his youthful days in Portland smoking too many cigarettes and playing Punk Rock at places like Satyricon and Paris Theater - but possibly more importantly getting tattoos. Seeing the connection between rebel outsider culture and the rich history and folklore in Traditional American Tattooing, JD knew he had found his calling. The perfect mixture of art and craft, of individual and communal voice.


JD had the opportunity to be tattooed by Chris Conn at Terry Tweed's legendary Deluxe Tattoo in 1994. After Conn left Portland, JD then got tattooed several times over a period of years by Matt Reed (owner, Tigerlily Tattoo) when Reed was working at another legendary Portland shop, Sea Tramp Tattoo Co. Both of these artists left a strong impression with JD as to how a true artist/craftsperson goes about doing tattoos with grace and dignity. And it is largely due to his experience getting tattooed by both of these Gentleman Tattooers, that he chose to pursue tattooing himself. 


Now he smokes fewer cigarettes and does more artwork.


Follow JD for the most recent work: