CCA teacher finds artistic expression – in and out of classroom

​Jordon Taylor teach high school digital photography and 3-D modeling classes​ – and works as a tattoo artist.

It was around 2013 when Jordon Taylor felt he had stagnated as an artist. He enjoyed teaching digital-based art courses in the Harrisburg region for Commonwealth Charter Academy, but he wasn’t drawing or painting anymore. He brainstormed for a project, some sort of motivation and direction.

Then he thought, “What about tattooing?”

“I didn’t even have any tattoos at the time I started and had no intention of getting any,” Taylor said.

That search for motivation led to a sideline career that has endured.

As a teacher by day and a tattoo artist by night, Taylor expresses his creativity while helping clients bring their ideas to life.

Taylor, a Pennsylvania native, studied marketing and education and had worked as a graphic designer before joining CCA to teach a new high school digital photography class. He still teaches that course, plus high school digital art and 3-D modeling.

When he decided to explore tattooing, he found that most artists learn the trade on the job, so he apprenticed for a year with a shop. He practiced on rubbery fake skin before graduating to pig skin mounted on a board. Eventually, though, you have to do your first tattoo on somebody.

He gave another artist in the shop a small tattoo, and she tattooed him so he would know the sensation of needle on skin. He has not gotten another tattoo since, knowing that he’s too indecisive.

“I like everything for a while and then change my mind,” Taylor said.

He learned to work with people who, unlike pig skins, tend to move, and he discovered that each part of the anatomy requires a different approach. In other respects, he uses fundamental artistic skills to master the tattoo machine, because “any artist has to have control over their paintbrush or pencil, or even the computer if they are using a mouse. That all comes with experience and practice.”

Taylor has honed his communications skills at CCA, talking regularly with parents who, after all, enroll their families by choice and deserve teachers who “do everything we can to accommodate them.”

Those communications skills are useful in tattooing when he works with clients to create designs. Some know exactly what they want. Others give him free rein, and the process becomes collaborative.

“The thought that this person’s going to have your artwork on them forever is pretty cool,” Taylor said.

A lot of times, there can be a deeper meaning to a tattoo. It can be in memoriam or something the person is trying to remember or commemorate.

Taylor is a self-confessed “gym rat” who stays motivated by entering bodybuilding competitions. His childhood love for the "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" characters continues with an extensive collection of the toys.

Today’s art students can pursue “whole new career paths,” including graphic design, advertising, digital marketing and game design, Taylor said. “Artistic talents are in demand in every single career.”

For students considering becoming tattoo artists, or artists in any field, he advises developing strong portfolios of original artwork. He urges them to get outside their comfort zones to experiment with new and varied media, because as he knows, “sometimes trying other things makes you a better artist.”

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Teacher