Tarrah Wray: Jason Wojceik (RIP)
(A letter to TAM)
My name is Tarrah Wray and I am writing you in regards to a tattooer from London, Ontario named Jason Wojceik, or ‘Addictive Jay’ as he’s also known. The point of my letter to you, is to respectfully request that Jay be featured in your magazine. He was owner of Addictive Tattoo, also in London, as well as being my co-worker, partner and mentor…. most importantly, he was a very talented and formidable tattooer. So I’m writing to be a voice to make him known to you. Jay was exceedingly humble, and because of my respect for him I’m doing this on his behalf. He had an unpretentious demeanor and had never put value into being eminent, or well-known, but after nearly 20 years of hard work, perseverance and amazing tattoos he’s amounted into a distinguished artist, and he was more than what I would describe as noteworthy…
Now that I’ve described who Jay was, you must also know that Jay, the love of my life and the most important person I’ve ever known, passed away suddenly in our home, on the morning of February 4th, 2012. He was 40. I and everyone that had the opportunity to know him are beside themselves with devastation. I can’t even begin to express my feelings of grief, so for me, as a way of honoring him, I am doing this. In fact, I began this letter about six months ago when he was still with us. I am determined to persevere and make his, a lasting legacy.
I know he would be so honored if he found others had gone out of their way to see he receives this distinction, he SO deserves it. I’ve compiled a collection of tattoo photos and machine photos, as a display of his talent. He was perpetually industrious, his diligence and dedication to hard work are an example to be followed, in proving that you can obtain anything you dream, if you choose to. Never the less he is also the type of character to never be quite satisfied, and believes that if you become satisfied, you won’t continue to grow. He believes this aesthetic is what will bring continual growth.
He taught me EVERYTHING he could, whether it was about life, spirituality, or being impeccable with your word, OR anything and EVERYTHING I know about tattooing, art, painting, machine building or tattoo history. And I’ve grown HUGELY since the day that I met him, and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for him. Jay was larger than life. They are some BIG shoes to fill.
He gave back to the industry, it says it in his work. He has been tattooing professionally for 18 years. He’s the kind of dauntless person that only ever wanted to tattoo, has never done anything BUT tattoo, and was only ever meant to TATTOO. That much is certain. I think in his youth he worked in a factory for a total of three days before he was back to tattooing. Much like many other tattoo artists of his generation he started tattooing on his own, purchasing equipment at the tender age of 17, in Toronto, Ontario–15 minutes away from his hometown of Oakville, Ontario. Eager to tattoo, he practiced on friends as often as he could, recording every one he did. By a fluke he met another tattooer -the son of a shop owner from London, Ontario, at a Metallica concert. Two years clocked on, during which he had been tattooing a surplus of people, friends or whoever was ready to let him hone his artistic skills on their skin.
He didn’t think a whole lot about meeting that specific individual at that Metallica concert at the time. Following that, he bumped into him again, so they exchanged information. And, as fate would have it, said tattooer contacted him and asked him if he wanted to move to London, indefinitely, and work at his family’s shop Blue Dragon. Of course this was a dream for him at the time, working in a shop, so he moved promptly and began work for a busy summer, and subsequently worked there for two years, meanwhile being fired and rehired TWICE, and after the second firing, ambitious as he is, he decided to up the ante and open his own shop at 23 years old. TWENTY THREE!
Addictive Tattoo has now been open and thriving for 16 years. All the while, fine tuning his talent–while color work and bold, classic traditional are his favorite niché, he was QUITE the multi-faceted artist. I would be deeply appreciative if you would consider including him in your magazine in an artist article. Of all the artists I know he sticks out as profoundly inspiring, dedicated, ALWAYS striving to improve and be better, and he was the most deserving of this recognition. Not to mention his tattoos are killer and I’m sure viewers would unanimously agree that they are pretty mouth-watering. Including the machine photographs, which was another obsession of his.
Jay has been building tattoo machines since 06’, for the last five years. In reference to his machines, he’s often known as ‘ADDICTIVE JAY’. Whether they’re custom handmades, rebuilds, cast or CNC, there’s no denying he was TRULY obsessed. His workshop is like Sanford & Son, only in the case of an OCD machine builder. But more importantly, his machines are DIALED IN. All day long, baby. They run amazing. His formula for building and tuning seemed perfect, I was in a constant state of awe. And was lucky to be able to follow him around in that converted garage, many times long into the night. Absorbing it all like a submerged sponge. He would have close friends, fellow tattooers or other machine enthusiasts come out to have the same pleasure, and usually were lucky enough to leave with a custom machine they would make together.
Whether he was cutting out his own Brooklyn Blacky sideplate, or travelling across the province to have a hundred of his personal frame designs CNC’ed, or getting a classic PW model A or Spaulding Supreme machined out of a solid block of Damascus, he killed it. And everything was always classified intelligence. “What do you use to clear-coat your coils?” He’d say “you kiddin? That’s the secret sauce. You’ll have to figure it out like I did.” He had a pretty high standard, both esthetically and technically. He focused on how many different variables they’re are in making a machine run proper. You really can take any machine, even if it’s from a factory assembly line in China, and make it run good, with the right knowledge.
He spent a lot of time figuring it out, and nobody taught him. If you want something, and you care about it badly enough, you can have it. You just have to work hard. That’s just the way he was. He was so inventive. He collected coins from ancient to present date from every continent to solder onto a side plate or tube vice screw, or every kind of money, reptile skin or even q-card with religious imagery on it to wrap perfectly onto his coils. Every day was another trip to the second-hand store or flea market to see what kind of brass treasures could be found, like old filigree door knockers or candle holders with beautiful designs, so he could cut them down and braze them back together to make a cool upright or a full on frame.
I truly have SO MUCH to thank him for. Many times, I am wondering, how will I carry on without him? Then I remind myself -he is not gone. He lives on. In me, in everyone he knew, in what he taught me, in what he taught everyone around him, all of the people’s lives he touched and the magnitude of the effect his person left on anyone that came into contact with him.
Everything was not in vain, I will go the rest of my life living every day, using every gift he gave me. The gift of knowing the Law of Intention and Desire, meaning there is always an infinite amount of energy and information present to create whatever you want. The gift of love. And thank you, thank you Jay, for The Gift of Tattoo.
Please consider publishing this. I and so many people would be overjoyed. It would honor Jay’s memory. He is gone but not forgotten, he really deserves this recognition.
• Mary-Anne Kroese-Martin: “I recall a conversation we had when I was worried that my Mom didn’t know how much I appreciated her. You said that you believed that the departed could see us and that our thoughts were connected to them, especially when the thoughts were of them….
I want that to be true. Thinking of you.
Rest easy my friend.”
• Dr. Blood: “Jay, I love you brother. For it was you that got me into this damn business….. I’m forever indebted to you. Thanx for evrything boss.”
• Angie Hooker: “It’s an honor to wear your beautiful work. I’m always happy to say my work is Jay at Addictive & I always will be. Addictive is one of my most favorite places.”
• Benjamin Sked: “I fell in love with tattooing in your grandmas shed 25 yrs ago. and you never failed to inspire me, to keep the magic and excitment alive. What a path we’ve traveled to get this far. You’ve made me proud to be your friend. A great artist, a great machine builder, see you on the other side reddog.”
• Steve Jelley: “I was 12 when I met you, 14 when gave me my first TAT ”popeye” ..then tried to talk me into a bigger piece!…..and in high school art class… teaching me to shade the dragon picture I drew … …ill always have those memories because of you. thank you Jay”
• Jessica Gore-Pare: “What a mark he left on all of us. Jay was my teacher, he put me on this incredible path and opened my eyes, he introduced me to my husband and influenced me in countless ways.”
• Dana Tangen-Litt: “You have inspired, motivated and mentored many, and you will live on in the art that you shared with all who had the pleasure of knowing you.”
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