It’s not just the name Friday Jones that stands out, but her artistic, strong-minded persona and creative genius that has left a prominent mark in her industry as an artist and famed tattooist. Friday began her journey with an apprenticeship at prestigious Inksmith & Rogers Studios, while simultaneously earning degrees in philosophy, art and religion at Jacksonville University in Florida. Arts was always a passion for the young Jones, she expanded her studies at Fine Arts academies in Pennsylvania and New Orleans.
With deep interest in symbolism, her spiritually-minded images have adorned canvas, skin and paper for over twenty-five years. Her work reached Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award winners, and many high-profile individuals throughout the world. She’s touched the hearts and minds of many especially since working with post-operative cancer survivors embracing the role as a medical tattoo artist, aligning with top plastic surgeons for 3D nipple tattoos, areola repigmentation and illustrative scar therapy.
Q. Tell us about you? How did you get to become a tattoo artist?
A. I came into tattooing in 1991 as a university student. I wasn’t a fan of tattoos, ironically. It was harder for women to be tattooed then, more of a risk than it is now. But the evolution I’ve undergone because of tattooing has been an extraordinary journey and I have no regrets.
Q. What do you love most about your work?
A. The transformative nature of my work is what really fires me up. People get tattooed for all sorts of reasons: victory, grief, self-empowerment, marking a significant moment or simply mindfulness. Helping to “midwife” my clients into the next phase of their lives is very satisfying.
Q. Where do you live throughout the year?
A. I live on the Tivat Riviera in beautiful Montenegro and travel to clients in New York, Germany and the UK throughout the year.
Q. When and why did you move to Montenegro and what attracted you to live there?
A. My friend Veronica Kohlbecker had been telling us how fantastic Montenegro was for some time. None of us in New York knew where it was and we had to look it up on a map! One day she called and told me she had arranged for me to tattoo at a birthday party for a friend and insisted I make time for it. So, they flew me out and Veronica was absolutely right.
Q. What is it about Montenegro that makes you want to come back each time?
A. It is a beautiful place with wonderful people, delicious wines, produce and a rare, untouched, sensibility about it. No Starbucks, no McDonald’s. For an American conditioned to decades of Capitalist sprawl it is an eye-opening paradise.
Q. Top 5 places to visit in Montenegro and why?
A. The first place I send people to is the remarkable fortress at Kotor. It is a living example of a medieval city and understandably protected as a UNESCO site. From that ancient system of defence, I would recommend the Museum of Maritime Heritage to experience the scope of the last hundred years of Boka Bay’s fortitude in the face of two world wars, invasion and occupation by foreign governments. Porto was a major Yugoslavian submarine base before it became a superyacht marina and there is a marvellous submarine on site and open for tours. As you can see, I am a great fan of history so next we would rent an all-terrain quad form Una Montenegro and ride up the mountain above Tivat to the Njegoš Mausoleum in Lovćen National Park to learn about the “Poet Prince” Njegoš and one of Montenegro’s greatest leaders. From your new appreciation of Serbian Orthodoxy’s founding father it is natural to visit Ostrag Monestary, stunning carved directly into the cliffs high above the mountain village of Nikšić. Ostrag is a very popular spot in the summertime so leave early and bring your hiking shoes! After your tour enjoy a pint of Nikšićko beer, the most popular beer in the region and brewed nearby. After all that history (and hiking) you will be ready for the beautiful beach of Ada Bojana where you can soak up the sun and let the wonderful culture of your new favourite country wash over you. More Nikšićko, please!
Q. Top three restaurants and why?
A. Since I reside in Tivat, we will have a beautiful lunch on the Riviera at Bevanda. While the grilled prawn salad is de riqueur, if you’re lucky, you will be able to experience their rich, parmesan pasta with its sauce spun directly within a hollowed-out wheel of the huge Italian cheese, right before our eyes. Another perfectly romantic spot on the other side of the village is Carrubba, where fresh local seafood and marvellous regional wines are always on offer. Be sure to snap a selfie at this gorgeous location that also inspired James Bond in the film Casino Royale! While the Tivat Riviera has so many romantic spots, sometimes you just want a light snack to inspire you along your luxurious way and for that I recommend a slice of “black pizza” only to be found at Contact. The delicious crust gets it’s unusual colour from squid ink and the crispy slice is loaded with colourful fresh vegetables providing another fabulous selfie moment to share with friends at home. Enjoy!
Q. Best place for sundowners in Montenegro?
A. You can’t miss the sunset experience at Cafe Regata, the locals’ best kept secret. Live music is often on offer and the friendly staff will keep your “veliko pivo” glass of Nikšićko full well after the sun has set.
Q. Montenegro’s best kept secret?
A. The caves of Boka Bay, both natural and man-made! Charter a boat and visit the beautiful Blue Cave for a mind-altering swim in the glowing turquoise waters of this hidden marvel. After that, have your captain cruise you through the now-defunct submarine tunnels of the former Yugoslavian Navy, carved stealthily into the mountains surrounding the bay. Be sure to bring some music (and more Nikšićko) as the acoustics are amazing!
Q. The most unique designed place in Montenegro and why?
A. This has to be the aforementioned Ostrag Monestary, impossibly carved directly into the high summits above Nikšić. With limited technology and a whole lot of faith, the 17th century monks of the remote region created a marvel to span the ages.
Q. How would you describe the art scene in Montenegro?
A. Montenegro loves its artists! I am continually amazed at the investment the families and federal government have put into the training and cultivation of its young talent. The art academy in Cetinje is legendary and while the young country can only be considered emerging at the moment, it is only a matter of time when Tivat and the surrounding villages of Boka Bay claim their right as destination locations for artists on par with Italy and the south of France. Visit Gayo Gallery and The Maritime Museum of Porto Montenegro to experience a stimulating rotation of local talent, both past and present.
Q. How popular is your work in Montenegro? Are your clients from the region or do they live in other parts of the world? Where mostly?
A. Tattooing is definitely in a growth stage for Montenegro. I opened the country’s first officially licensed tattoo studio Tattoo Montenegro in November 2018 and my goal has been to cultivate the craft among young, local talent. We are coming to the end of our first six-months and I am proud to say our goals are resonating with the curious, primarily un-tattooed locals. While visitors from the west find us easily and bring home an artful souvenir as a matter of course, the region is just now starting to get larger and more sophisticated pieces. I am proud to say that Tattoo Montenegro tattoo artists were represented for the first time in international conventions from Italy to Amsterdam.
Q. Can you name some of your famous clients?
A. My client list includes Angelina Jolie, Robbie Williams, Lydia Hearst, jazz artist Aaron Neville, members of Queens of the Stone Age, Lorraine Bracco and Angie Harmon.
Q. Greatest achievement?
A. My greatest achievement would be legalising tattooing in Montenegro! I think everyone should be able to express themselves and tattooing has been a powerful vehicle for personal independent expression in the west over the last twenty years.
Q. Tell us about Personal Ink and your work with postoperative clients. How did it come about?
A. A friend had introduced me to a woman who had a double mastectomy but didn’t want a nipple reconstruction. She had an idea of tattooing her breasts instead. We put some beautiful seashells on her breasts, like the way a mermaid would wear them, and she was thrilled. That image went viral and P-Ink.org reached out to me as they were a young charity looking to spread the word about this sort of art therapy for breast cancer survivors. I ended up being the only tattoo artist on the board and last year we tattooed 56 women in 16 cities across the US for our national #pinktattooday. All artists work for free and they close the shop for the day and have a big “topless” party for these women. It’s really an incredible experience! P-Ink.org has been recently absorbed by a larger charity (F*ckCancer.org) and are limiting their growth exclusively to the United States, unfortunately. Now that I’m in Europe a few of us are working to create a similar organisation on this side of the Atlantic.
Q. What’s next for you? Any big plans?
A. Helping to build a counter-culture in the Balkans is really taking up most of my energy right now. Between that and creating a similar charity to P-Ink.org in Europe my plate is pretty full! Ironically, I came to beautiful Montenegro to focus on a painting career, but I just can’t put tattooing on the back burner just now. Once I get my young staff seasoned and confident, I’d love to segue into the gallery world. The Balkans are incredibly inspiring, so I see myself focusing on the ever-changing seas and skies in the coming years.