Oba Moori Jackson// Photo by Luigi ciuffetelli
Oba Moori Jackson is a Bear native and Wilmington tattoo artist who recently competed on the 11th season of Paramount’s “Ink Master” TV show. Jackson, the third Delawarean to compete on the show, made it to the fourth round before his heart condition forced him to withdraw. Now back to work at PUSH Tattoo, his Market Street studio, Jackson looks forward to applying everything he learned to his craft.
How did it feel to get home after you were done competing?
Oh my God! It was like the biggest weight lifted off me. It was so great to go home.
“Ink Master” seemed just flat-out mean. How much of it is real?
I wanna say it’s like 50 percent editing, 50 percent real. They really want you to seem like you’re a jerk. That’s the look that they want to give people. I told them that if they were gonna manipulate my image any kind of way, I didn’t want to do it because I am not a jerk. I’m already funny, so I didn’t need to be a jerk any of the time.
What did you take from the experience?
Going to a show like that, it actually opened my eyes to so many other things that people in Delaware don’t get and that I wasn’t even learning.
Is there a style that you really want to look into, something you saw that you were like, “That’s cool!”
I want to actually look into traditional-style tattoos. A lot of people on that show actually did them. It’s really interesting to me because, being a trained artist from such a young age, it’s really hard for my brain to get back to that simpler stage. I’ll literally sit around now and draw with kids, and just look at what they do because it’s so hard for the way my brain is set up to uncomplicate something, if that makes sense.
How old were you when you started drawing?
I started drawing when I was 2. My mom is an artist and so is my grandmother. When (my mom) realized I could draw, all the money for me went into art supplies. And my mom is always so proud about this. She’s like, “I didn’t teach him anything. I literally just supported him.”
What did you learn about yourself while you were competing on “Ink Master?”
I learned that I don’t like stressful situations, but I handle them well. I learned that if you just stick to something, you can achieve anything. I learned that, sometimes you just need to wait things out. So, be patient. I think that would probably be the best takeaway.
Were you excited to tell everybody when you were finally allowed to?
Lying to my friends was so hard. I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to work back for Nordstrom.” I made up some story. Lying to everybody was hard because I’m 35 and honest and I don’t need to lie anymore in life. The only people who knew [I was competing] were my kid and my husband.
Do you think the show is going to help your visibility?
Probably not. I went on the show for experience. I told my husband before I went on that the people who watch that show aren’t the people that I tattoo, my demographic. So I felt like it wasn’t really going to do that much for me.