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Jacci Gresham - Aart Accent Tattoos - New Orleans

By June 29, 2006

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I just got off the phone from speaking with Jacci Gresham of Aart Accent Tattoos in New Orleans, Louisiana. I just had to post a note to say what a pleasure it was to speak with her. If you're not familiar with Ms. Gresham, she was the first, and still remains the only, well-known African American female tattoo artist. She started tattooing seriously in 1976 and has earned quite a name for herself.

I needed to call her and interview her for Chick Ink, and I really only needed answers to a couple of questions, but Ms. Gresham was so delightful and friendly, I found myself asking more and more, not really wanting to let the conversation go. She said that a lot of people regard her as "Grandma," which is easy to understand - not just because she's a hearty sixty-years-old, but because she exudes that warm-but-stubborn grandma-like charisma, even over the phone.

Before Hurricane Katrina, Jacci Gresham had two shops in New Olreans, but one was damaged beyond repair and they have not been able to return. Now she commutes fifty miles each day, through unending construction and over temporary bridges, just to get to work at her French Quarter studio. Business boomed at first following the hurricane, but once the FEMA money ran out and reality sunk in with a lot of residents just struggling to survive, business has slowed down for Ms. Gresham and her fellow artists.

There really isn't a point to this blog except to share the history of an amazing woman and to say how much I enjoyed speaking with her. And if anyone is wondering what happened to her, the crew, and the shops due to Katrina, I thought I'd pass that along as well. It's too bad they don't have a website, but if you're in New Orleans, pay Aart Accent a visit and please give Jacci "Grandma" Gresham a hug from me!

Comments

July 2, 2006 at 5:59 pm
(1) janet says:

I have a body piercing shop as well and that is a top notch piercing

August 23, 2006 at 11:25 am
(2) Meri says:

I was tattooed 12 years ago at Jacci’s studio when I was a student at Tulane University. Still my only tat. I chose her strictly on the basis of her being Alfrican American and a woman. I wish I could go back to get it touched up. I live in NYC now.

August 23, 2006 at 3:43 pm
(3) Lee says:

I had two of my most special tattoos done at Art Accent on Rampart…one commemorating the birth of my son, and one honoring the memory of my mother. They did excellent work and were very friendly. I live in NC now, I can’t wait to get home to get my fleur de lis tat to remember those lost in Katrina.

December 17, 2006 at 7:10 am
(4) Miya Bailey says:

She is one of my HEROS..period! If it wasn’t for her…there would be no ME.

December 22, 2006 at 10:17 pm
(5) Mandy says:

Ms. Jacci is the best, not only did she show me how to properly put on a corset but when I needed a place to crash for Mardi Gras she let me stay at one of her places for free. She is top notch all the way love her she is a great lady…

January 13, 2007 at 4:22 pm
(6) Lisa says:

I’m thrilled to hear Jacci is still in N.O. I want to get more work done and she is the only person I trust. Her work is topnotch. I will be there in a month to get more work done.

January 28, 2007 at 4:46 pm
(7) Rick Mitchell says:

Jacci Gresham is not the only black female professional tattoo artist. Teresa AKA: Teresa3D is the only other black female professional tattoo artist still doing her artwork. Teresa is originally from St. Louis cith, MO., where she began her apprenticeship and worked for many years. She later relocated to sunny Southern California where she is slowly creating a client base. While in St. Louis, she tattoed such famous people as Ali of the St. Lunatics and many others from the hip-hop industry. We would very much like to visit Jacci Gresham in New Orleans to bring together a friendship of what can truly discovered as the only two black female tattoo artist in the nation.

Rick
Black Orchid Tattooing
Burbank, Ca.

June 14, 2007 at 7:10 pm
(8) Lil Randy says:

hey wassup yall at ART ACCENT..I got my 1st tat done there about 7 or 8 yrs ago when i was around 15-16..my moms and dad took me as long as i wouldnt put any homemade tatts on me..so i didnt and got my 1st real 1 thanx to Tag Anderson @ Art Accent…Ms. Jacci is Tag still around???much love and big props to everybody @ Art Accent

August 9, 2007 at 10:53 am
(9) Masha says:

Dominic is the best one there, in my opinion – he is meticulous and gentle. Ask for him if you go there. One of the highlights of my life was getting a tat by him…

June 22, 2008 at 1:44 pm
(10) rafael says:

Jacci gave me an awesome mermaid tattoo back in 2003, she is a delightful lady and an accomplished artist.
Thanks for the article!

April 20, 2009 at 4:19 am
(11) JKUTTA says:

I am a native of New Orleans; I must say Ms. J is the coolest lady I know. I had the pleasure of receiving the best quality of original N.O. tattoos from her shop before Katrina at her shop in my hood the mighty 9wd. If you see her again ask her how’s the kids. I love her human size dogs.

May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm
(12) Scandalas Tommy now known as Preacher Man says:

I worked for Jacci on Rampart St. Back in the day. She was hard on me but that’s what I needed. She never setteled for 2nd rate Only the best would suffice. I still remember the first compliment she ever paid me. She has always been a CLASS ACT. I got to see her right after the hurricanes and I must say that the few minutes I got to see her was the highlight of my trip…Jacci if you see this Im praying for you
Tommy

July 15, 2009 at 5:19 am
(13) Zipper says:

Hi! I just wanted to share that i have an original from 1984 i had Jacci draw pattern and ink for me… naked woman sitting on moon still as beautiful as it was 6/11/84. Excellent artist

August 10, 2009 at 2:26 am
(14) Janell says:

see my myspace page at tattoosbyjanell ( sn)

I am a black female tattoo artist

October 9, 2009 at 1:01 am
(15) Tag's Wife says:

Jacci is the origional! You can’t top what she has done for the industry! And in response to ‘Lil Randy’ Tag is over here in Tallahassee Fl, but we do drive out to NOLA to visit the family and work some.

November 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm
(16) Barry says:

Is Nate still there? He did an amazing tattoo of three names around a kanji symbol for ‘Family’ on my arm in July ’07. It was my first and only ink and I have fond memories of my night in AART Accent on Rampart.

March 24, 2010 at 7:53 am
(17) Reb says:

Nice to find this and see that Jacci made it thru Katrina. She was friends with my father who used to own that tattoo shop in the French Qtr before Jacci did.

November 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm
(18) johnette napolitano says:

I have quite a bit of work but Brad @ AA is amazing; and I’m looking forward to getting ink’d by the Grande Dame herself…

November 22, 2010 at 11:15 am
(19) Shaun, UK says:

We had the pleasure of meeting Jacci on a recent visit to the Crescent City, and it was a real pleasure. Both my wife and I had tattoos done at her studio (unfortunately not by her).

November 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm
(20) Kami says:

Jacci is a national treasure. She did my first tattoo from an image I designed and she was so awesome about working with me to develop it into a beautiful work of skin art. I remember the days when she split her time between 3 shops — Slidell, Rampart St. and her studio in the 9th ward that had one of the sweetest muscle cars on the planet in the back garage — I think it was a dodge charger and I think it belonged to her dear, departed partner Ali Singh. I was so glad to hear that she fought back from the devastation after Katrina and saved her Rampart St. studio. If any of you ever travel down to NOLA in search of ink, DEFINITELY pay a visit to her shop. She truly is THE QUEEN of New Orleans.

November 29, 2010 at 10:50 pm
(21) tiwana says:

I am so glad to have found this article!!! I read about Jacci in an Ebony article waaaaay back when. I traveled to Essence Music Festival with an agenda– letting her do my tattoos. I was graced by Jacci herself and got two beautiful ones that still look as beautiful when she did them in 1997. Wanting another one and trust me, now that I know she is still in NO, I will be there to get it done!! She was pleasant and comforting, all the while sharing her knowledge. KUDOS!!! I am sooooo excited!

February 20, 2011 at 5:07 am
(22) kelly says:

I absolutely love ms jackie. She gave me my first tattoo in 1986. She was and always will be the best in the business. A real class act. I’m planning on returning to new orleans soon for another one of her master pieces.

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