Fresh ink, tattoo equipment, and... bikinis?
As tattoo artists are concerned, we’ve probably seen it all; but for tattooing mega talent, Jenna Kerr, her commute became a little bit more aquatic.
No one can truly prepare for an experience like tattooing on a luxury cruise ship. Yet with her inking gear in tow, the internationally known UK-based artist was down to set sail on the ride of a lifetime. And while she’s usually in the game of changing people’s lives for the better, those tables, or should we say rudders, would turn in the most cinematic way possible...
From the Booth to Beach
Well-traveled from her many stints dominating the convention circuit with her signature ornamental style, Jenna’s not foreign to breaking in her land legs. But now she’s embracing life on the open sea on Squid Ink, a world-class tattoo studio aboard a premium luxury cruise ship, created by World Famous Tattoo Ink in partnership with Virgin’s lifestyle and travel brand, Virgin Voyages.
Jenna, whose plan to board in 2020 was postponed due to, well, the obvious, finally got to clock in at sea as a guest artist, given her numerous accolades and status as World Famous Pro Team artist. Joining her amongst tranquil and sweeping views, her partner-in-love, Jayce Lewis.
Jayce is a singer and composer hailing from Wales. With a career spanning several successful albums and collaborations, he has established himself as a notable figure in the music industry. When asked if being with another creative had its perks, Jenna wholeheartedly admits that the match fits so well, that it’s ‘spooky.’ “We pick each other up when [we’re] down in every way,” she says. “Our togetherness as artists is just better than I ever imagined. And sharing this whole journey so far has been beyond incredible.”
All Aboard Jenna Kerr tattooing her signature bejeweled style on a client at Squid Ink on Virgin Voyages.
Jenna’s respect for Jayce’s creative expertise runs deep. With his eye for photography and skills in production and directing, she often asks him for his opinion on her work. With an impressive release of three studio albums with Universal, little did Jenna know that Jayce was working on his biggest production yet…
He was going to propose to her while at sea on Virgin Voyages.
What a View World Famous Pro Team Tattoo Artist Jenna Kerr, Squid Ink Traveling Manager Dennis Gensinger, and musician and Jenna's partner, Jayce Lewis.
“Jayce was always supposed to be on the ship as he needed to escape Wales to continue composing his album,” Jenna recalls. “He brought some recording equipment and a bass guitar. What I didn’t know was that this was part of a big plan all along.”
The proposal day began with Jenna being asked to do a photoshoot for World Famous around the ship. All she knew was that she was supposed to look like “a million bucks.” As it turns out, this was just a cover story to get her to the perfect location. Meanwhile, Jayce, battling a hangover from a night of whiskey-fueled nerves, was preparing for the big moment. “Looking back at it all, it's so funny,” she reflects. “[It] was to calm his nerves for the big proposal.”
A Salty Proposal
Nerves are to be expected. But when things almost went awry, the musician and fellow proposal cohorts, like Squid Ink Traveling Manager Dennis Gensinger, soon had to dabble in the field of risk management.
“The captain of the ship walked past Squid Ink and said something to Dennis,” Jenna recalls, remembering the deer-in-headlights look on his face. Not understanding Dennis’ shocked disposition at the time, Dennis quickly informed her that there was a surprise – for Jayce.
“It was a tour of the Captain’s Bridge,’’ Jenna said. “I thought it was a fantastic idea!”
In fact, there was indeed a tour of the Captain’s Bridge planned, which Jayce fully knew since it was a part of the proposal ‘tour.’ “Jayce bless him, looked terribly confused as he already knew about the visit to the Bridge,” she recalls as Dennis informed Jayce of the surprise-planned tour. “It was part of the proposal plan that he and Dennis had planned over many months! So, you could see Jayce couldn’t work out what was now going on.”
The captain’s unannounced visit was to actually ‘signal’ to Dennis that he’ll ‘see him in five minutes.’ Dennis, Jenna’s colleague turned good friend, was nervous she’d overheard. “Just remember, everyone is on tender hooks,” the artist from the UK writes. “Knowing this is a big day for me and Jayce, Dennis came up with a very quick, genius-thinking cover plot!”
As Jenna was escorted onto the ship's bridge for the "Captain's Bridge surprise," that’s when Dennis presented her with a special gift to rival a star-filled night sky on the ocean — a Blue Johnstone. The Blue Johnstone represented Jenna’s late Grandfather John, who lived near where these rare stones were mined. He passed away 3 months prior to Jenna’s voyage, and one month before his 90th birthday. "The meaning of this was that my grandad was right with me,” she realized.
Confused but playful, Jenna jokingly said, "Yes, Dennis, I will."
That’s when Jayce, trembling with nerves, took her hand and popped the question.
"Do you remember when I said that us getting together was the stars aligning?” she recalls Jayce asking. "Well," he continued, "I want them to stay that way permanently." With those words, Jayce dropped to one knee, holding Jenna's hand, and asked her to spend the rest of their days voyaging life – together. And if you’re wondering, she said yes of course.
What started as a guest spot that was almost stunted by restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus winded up giving Jenna Kerr memories she will treasure for a lifetime, both romantically and artistically. “It was quite surreal sometimes,” she admits. “When I got lost in a piece I would sometimes look up and there was a reminder… being able to sit in the hammock on our balcony and draw my designs for my clients, it was like a dream!
Ink and the Stories We Tell
Tattoos often play the role of life’s storytellers, weaving narratives etched into our skin. Jenna Kerr's remarkable journey, from the artist's booth to the open sea, exemplifies how tattoos have the power to unite us through meaningful stories. And places like Squid Ink offer a canvas for commemorating life's most cherished moments.
In the end, whether it's with ink or stories shared at sea, tattoos are continuing to bind us through the indelible illustration of our shared experiences.
Want to see more of Jenna or learn more about Squid Ink? Visit https://www.squid.ink/ and See more of Jenna on this upcoming season of Ink Master premiering Nov. 1 on Paramount and follow her at @jennakerrtattoo.
Get more scoop on Jenna and how she came to be the one of the most sought after jewel tattooers in the industry by watching the video below.
Squid Ink at Virgin Voyages