Published: 01 November, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 166, November, 2008

Jondix is one of Spain’s great tattoo artists, and certainly one of the top protagonists of Eastern religious and esoteric tattoos, with a highly sophisticated ability to make superbly detailed mantras, geometry, knots and mendhi-influenced patterning that is both powerful and dark, yet elegant and beautiful. His lexicon of imagery borrows from the East, with usage of auspicious symbols, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, deities, and ritualistic objects.

Enamoured with the symbolism of Buddhism and Hinduism, even his larger pieces are a complicated matrix of detailed allegories. Whilst many people lately are experiencing dissatisfaction with Western paradigms and are drawn to Eastern philosophies, the iconography of Eastern religious art is even on a purely visual level magnificent, and has the appeal of the exotic. With an innate sensibility born from his travels and studies, Jondix has a sentient talent to translate these visuals to look good tattooed onto the skin.

Born from the smaller symbols he initially started doing, even Jondix’s larger scales pieces are an amalgamation of smaller elements, like ohms and magic squares, with his love of “everything strange”.

Although he didn’t have a formal apprenticeship, he was working at LTW whilst at architecture school, and cites his early mentor as Tas, now at London’s seminal tattoo institution In2U. “I was getting tattoos, I don’t know why, but because of music probably, you know, when you see the rock stars. “ Jondix tells us in a recent interview “So, when I turned 18 I got my first tattoo. Then I kept getting more and more tattoos, and then I got sleeves and knees. Well, at some point I discovered the real tattoos that I like, like mantras and stuff from Tas, and Mike the Athens, and I got tattooed by them.”

“I really liked what they were doing, I never saw anything like these mantras and Hindu things it was “Oh! I didn’t know you could do this on the skin.” This is not the typical tribal, especially the mantras, and the Thai things, I was impressed.... at some point in time Tas taught me how to tattoo, so I quit everything to tattoo, he trusted in me. Thanks Tas!”

After 7 years at architecture school, Jondix went into the world of tattooing, and has secured a niche for himself, being one of Spain’s top tattooists, alongside Robert Hernandez, Javier Castano and Javier Rodriguez.  Although he says, not surprisingly, that having a background in architecture helped in his current profession, and looking at his tattoos, there is a sophisticated use of balance, and design sensibility; whilst the tattoos look organic and mystical, they are also graphically refined and exquisitely detailed, or conversely, deftly simple.

“Yeah it helped a lot” he confesses “Everyday at school I was dealing with technical equipment, and this technical equipment is weird, the machines are so technical, so I spent many years with ink on my hands. I had to do so many projects, so I knew how to deal with art on paper. It was helping me so much. When I didn’t want to go to school the closest library was Arts, so I was in the library all day… in the end everything helps.”

Whilst leaving one career path and going into another trajectory, for Jondix tattooing is more than skin deep: “It’s true, getting tattoos improves your life and then also not, it’s like, you feed your ego a little the moment that you probably need it most. You know what I mean? I’m talking about customers and their first tattoos, and you feel more individual, and you are more in control of yourself, this is why a lot of people get tattoos when they turn 18. You are more like an individual, the owner of yourself, out of the group if you know what I mean? You have your own identity so you can be more unique. It helps in realising in that you are more unique, everyone is unique, but because of globalisation, everyone has the same iPod and everybody is the same, sometimes everyone is dressing the same, so a tattoo makes you different...but it can be also the contrary!”

“In the art world it’s important that you don’t want to repeat yourself as a person, and as an artist. Also because it’s a controlled pain that you are getting, you learn so much about your mind, especially if it’s a long tattoo, if you do both arms, you know how to control some stressful situations, this is important. When you are young it changes you a lot actually... maybe too much sometimes... tattoos are the best but nobody knows why some of us get them over and over - it’s a mystery.”

Yet, Jondix adds “At the end everything is like an illusion, it’s only the skin of the body, it’s all in the mind, I like to talk about tattoos, but in the end I think everything is like an illusion, in the end, the skin will become old and die” reflective of his Buddhist mindset; the notion that existence is transient and temporal, and that everything in nature is in flux. Art on the skin is another manifestation of this idea, submitting to the passing of time, transforming, and then eventually decaying, suggestive of the mortality of nature and man.

Rather than looking like a Western interpretation of Eastern Art, Jondix has an interest in Eastern philosophies, and an innate ability to replicate motifs, such as Tibetan skulls, crossed vajras, Phurbu daggers and endless knots in a way that shows a innate understanding of the concepts he emulates on the skin. His forays into esoterica have made him one of the top purveyors of this genre, and highly regarded for his seemingly simple yet intricate designs. His book with Tas and Rinzing published by Tattoo Life sold out, and is, according to Jondix  “old material” but is considered an important reference for any tattoo artist wanting to pursue this style. His demeanour is befittingly laid back and approachable, and over all a great person to interview. He talks openly about things that interest him and feels sincerely about, without coming across as a righteous twat.

He says, “I think, ok, when I was younger, like a lot of people I liked the dark side of the arts. You like all this dark music, dark arts, whatever, when I was a child most of my friends, if we saw a painting of Geiger, and a painting of a very nice bird with a flower, we would love the painting of Geiger much more. Because the rebellion thing brings you to the dark side, so all this dark art all the time was a little mystic, even if they are monsters or whatever, it is like dark magic… black things.”

“So when I realised that in Tibet, for example, there was a good point of view with these esoteric dark things, I was like, ‘This is incredible... I want to focus on this’. Like it doesn’t have to be evil, but you have magical things also.” He adds, “ I believe in re-incarnation and try to understand only the basics like the 4 noble truths and the 8th fold path. I’m into meditation...breathing techniques and more rites that try at least to understand, but all this is too personal and some will laugh...”

From getting influenced by Tas, with whom he was in a band with, he says he improved his skills by via osmosis from his travels abroad to places like India and Thailand, where he finds most of his references. “I try to not just buy stuff, like “I go and buy all the books”” he explains, “Y’know, take pictures, analyse. If you live close to a monastery and you are looking everyday towards the shapes and the see these all day then it’s in your mind, and you know what is right or wrong in this style. Pictures are a good source of reference for me lately, I take a lot of pictures of stuff, because now everyone has the same books, and I always try to do things a little different so I found out that with pictures it’s different.”

“In Thailand they are mostly of the Buddhist faith so, they are peaceful, normally when a kid goes out of school, the normal situation is that they go to a monastery, so this explains everything in the end. But, of course there is crime and whatever, but there is more peace in general. Life is more poetic, because they are more relaxed, in everything they do, the way they paint their houses, and their shop signs, y’know in India also, the shop signs are so incredible, the local artist does these by hand, but here in the West it’s normally computerised. We have also good things here but it’s a more spiritual country of course, in general and especially for tattooists doing oriental stuff!”

Naturally his interest in Tibetan imagery and his stays in Dharamasala has led him to have a concern over the Tibet situation, donating his time to various causes such as Free Tibet, ( and Jondix has lately been involved with Graham Martin of Thou Art (Sheffield) in a project of TARA drawings which sees the sales of paintings from various tattoo artists go to this cause.

“I’m very deep inside this Tibet problem. I could talk about these things, I could say so much, but the thing is, things aren’t going to change, China is so powerful. Even now, people don’t know that China is hiding all the information; I don’t want to be very political y’know? Chinese people are very nice people. I think it’s a very brutal thing that is going on over there, and nobody is helping. There are bad things happening all over the world, but this one, I think it’s a little too much....

“Immediately I wanted to know what was happening, I wanted to go, I wanted to be respectful. It’s so difficult because if everyone in the world stopped buying Chinese products... but it’s impossible. The realistic way for someone to help is to help with signatures. Or the realistic way is to do what the Tibetan organisations are asking for, sometimes they need signatures that they can show to the parliament or, sometimes they need ten Euros from everybody to pay for a big sign, so they know what they need. The realistic way is to get in touch with Tibet house in your country, and try to do what they suggest. Another realistic way is to talk about the subject. If you know a little, spread the word!

“But this is because I like Tibetan stuff, for another person it may not be important, like another tattooist will read this and say, I don’t care about this! It’s normal, and maybe I don’t care about customising cars - everybody is different, but I think it’s a good thing. I’m not so radical like before, now I don’t care so much, y’know, ‘cause I know in the end, it’s karma. Now you don’t see the word Tibet on the map, China goes over. You cannot even find it. It’s very sad.”


Text: Maki Photgraphy: Diaz


Skin Deep 166 1 November 2008 166