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Image courtesy @magickbrows

This tattoo artist creates freckles in the shape of your astrological sign


TextAmanda Ng

Combining her interest in the metaphysical with her prowess in cosmetic tattooing, AstroFrecks is the latest project from tattoo artist Jessica Knapik

Freckles are in. Thank freckled faces Adwoa Aboah, Maeva Giani Marshall, Aleece Wilson and Salem Mitchell. Thank Instagram accounts like beautiful_girls_with_freckles, which regularly spotlights beautiful girls with beautiful freckles. Thank brands like Faux Freckle Cosmetics who have created temporary, self-applicable and realistic looking freckle make-up. Because those small dots of pigmentation you see scattered on your skin, long disregarded as imperfections, are now rightfully seen as beautiful.

More than a sign of beauty, have you ever thought about how freckles can, in fact, represent a person’s metaphysical existence in the universe? Probably not… Well, Detroit born and raised tattoo artist, Jessica Knapik has. The concept forms the basis of her latest project AstroFrecks, in which she uses semi-permanent cosmetic ink to create covert constellations of freckles in the shape of her client’s astrological sign. On the surface, they look like regular freckles but on closer inspection, if you connect the dots, a hidden star sign will be revealed.

“It’s a cute, personal, secret way to connect your sign and the universe to your body,” says Knapik. Growing up, Knapik has always had an interest in art: “I used to draw caricatures of famous people when I was little, fashion designs, animals.” She got her first tattoo aged 18 and has been covering her body in bold designs ever since. Keen to pursue her passion, Knapik moved to Canada where she trained as a cosmetic tattooist, before moving back to the States, setting up shop in Depot Town Tattoo in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Combining her interest in astrology with her technical prowess in 2017 she launched AstroFrecks. We caught up with the artist to talk about the future of tattooing and her love of all things metaphysical.

Were you always a fan of tattoos growing up?
Jessica Knapik: I was always into punk and rock and roll, so I was very used to seeing them. Metallica, Axl Rose... most of my fashion icons are men. I started getting tattoos right at 18, the earliest you’re legally allowed here. Pretty sure I hid them for as long as possible. I remember a funny moment my little sister was watching me get ready in the bathroom, she was only five or six, and my shirt went up and she saw my stomach tattoos, and she goes, “did they do those with a needle?” I tried my best to convince her they were temporary tattoos, but sure enough, she went and told my dad… But now she’s covered in them too.

Where did you hone your craft?
Jessica Knapik: Most cosmetic artists here in the U.S. work with a microblade but I use a cosmetic tattoo machine. Machine work is way more popular in Europe and Asia, but I discovered a programme in Canada so I went and trained there. I trained in brows and became certified, but my freckle work is self-taught. I officially started as a tattoo artist in 2017, then later the same year I dreamt up AstroFrecks. At that time there were only a few big standout cosmetic artists, and I knew I wanted to have my own voice.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
Jessica Knapik: In terms of my work, it’s very delicate and girly, but for me as a person it's the harder the better – gnarly thick lines, bold, weird designs, basically I want all my tattoos to look like they’re on a man. I have very few girly tattoos. I do have a tonne of animals though, animals make the best tattoos. I have a warthog, two rats, a lynx, a racoon, a vulture, a blowfish, a frog, eagles, my dog’s head... the list goes on.

How have you evolved as an artist?
Jessica Knapik: I honestly learn with every single client I do. My work gets better and better and I tweak things and become aware of things, and I’ll never stop. I hold myself to such a high standard that I’ll leave work with a stomach ache sometimes. This is so so important to me, and I want everything to be flawless, and everyone to be 100% happy. I’ll never stop trying to top my own best work. 

How did you come to create AstroFrecks?
Jessica Knapik: I’m super into metaphysical things; astrology, crystals, setting your intentions, and I’ve been getting more into tarot. Really all of it relies on moon phases, seasons, planet position, and kind of thanking the universe for the things you already have, while also asking for things you may need in your life. So around the end of 2017, late one night AstroFrecks popped into my head. Truth be told, I thought for sure I would post my first AstroFrecks picture on Instagram and a bigger artist with more followers would snatch it up and copy it, and I’d be left in the dust. But by some interweb miracle Bustle found it in under 24 hours. The day after that it was in Cosmo Australia. One of the things I was truly so happy about was that this was going to give cosmetic artists something new to offer and profit from. We pretty much work for ourselves, and drumming up business can be tough, so I felt so happy that people would have this new service to offer. More business, more money, everyone wins.

Do you believe in horoscopes?
Jessica Knapik: I do, but you definitely have to find a site or astrologer who you vibe with. I’ve been to some sites where it’s so far off. I tend to like Astrology.com, they’re usually pretty on. But honestly, lately, my tarot cards have been way more accurate. Also, it’s weird, if everything in my life is going perfect I won’t look at my horoscope. I only look when things are a little bit of a mess.

Who are the people who normally get AstroFrecks and why do they get it?
Jessica Knapik: All my clients are so diverse. All ages. Every kind of person you can think of, from many other states too. A lot of people love the astrology aspect, but I also get a lot of girls who want freckles because their moms or grandmas have them and they find them so beautiful but they naturally just never got them. I’ve heard back from my clients that their moms and grandmas look at their faces and say, ‘Oh my gosh they look just like mine!’ And that is the highest compliment I can think of.

What is your process when a client approaches you wanting the AstroFrecks?
Jessica Knapik: One thing that has come as a nice surprise is I assumed people would be like crazy control freaks about the whole thing, I mean it’s their face. But the awesome thing is I barely even draw out a game plan before I start. And people trust me. It’s so organic, and the client’s face just kind of tells me where they need to be. And people just trust me to go ahead and do it. I feel super lucky to get that level of trust and respect from people. I also use a cosmetic tattoo ink, not a full-on real tattoo ink. So please don’t go to a regular tattooer for these. Their needles will be too big and the ink won’t be natural, you need a cosmetic tattooer. I numb the face with a topical numbing cream and I carefully colour-match and mix the colours to get exactly the right tone for my client.

In many Asian countries, it is the cultural norm for people to hide their freckles with make-up or try. What is your experience with freckles in a beauty context?
Jessica Knapik: So one thing that’s really annoying, is trolls on my Instagram have tried to talk trash saying, “this is so dumb why don’t they just go in the sun”. I’ve snapped back before saying, “Well is that your real blonde hair? Real eyelashes?” What about make-up, expensive clothes, boob jobs, butt jobs, botox? We all do little things that make us feel good because those are things we admire and find beautiful. So please allow people to do what they want to do if it makes them happy.

What do you think the future of tattoos will be?
Jessica Knapik: Luckily tattoos have been around since the dawn of man so I know they’re not going anywhere. Also, I consider them one of the only things we truly do 100% for ourselves. Kind of like when you get a facial, or get your nails done, you have that little high after, like look at me treating myself. Tattoos have that same feeling. And no matter what is going on in the world, people will always find time for that feeling. 

What about the future of tattoo methods what with the coming of the age of AI?
Jessica Knapik: I have seen some videos and articles about robot tattooing becoming a thing someday, but it really doesn’t worry me. Going to get a tattoo done is such a personal thing, and you get this connection with your artist forever. No machine could ever replicate that. And a lot of people collect them, like trading cards, so you say, “I have this one from so and so, this one from so and so, and I love them all differently for that”. I’d never want to say, “Oh I got these four from a robot”. It just sounds very sad and impersonal.

What are your plans for the near future?
Jessica Knapik: I've dabbled in UV ink, to make the major stars in the constellation shine under blacklight, but I haven’t been wowed by the results. The ink is very watery and kind of temporary so maybe that can be improved someday. But my wheels never stop turning, my next big idea could be tomorrow for all I know, stay tuned.

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