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Artist Spotlight:

Jen Mathiesen

Jen wanted to give back and participate in, but she never realized what she would also get out of the experience.

Jen Mathiesen first got involved with Days in 2018 as a participating artist. She wanted to give back and make a difference in someone’s life, but never anticipated how much her experience with would change her own life.

Here’s what Jen told us about her Day experience.

Why were you interested in participating in Days?

I wanted to be able to give back and participate in something that made a difference to even one other individual.

How did this process feel different from other tattoos?

I never realized what I would also get out of the Day experience. The survivors, volunteers, and other artists gave me so much love, gratitude, and appreciation. I have always known that tattooing empowered people and was a big event in one’s life for multiple different individual reasons. But, I never realized how great and impactful it could be. I was able to give one day of my time for a lifetime of empowerment, confidence, some sort of closure, and the ability to start a new chapter seeing their beauty and strength shine through.

“To be a part of a recipient’s journey and put cancer behind them as much as possible, for them to look in the mirror and see how strong and beautiful they have always been…is a very rewarding feeling.”

– Jen Mathiesen

How did you feel leading up to the event?

I was very nervous. Especially as a newcomer, I wanted to live up to the expectations of the veteran volunteers and artists, and most importantly fulfill the expectations of the recipient to be able to complete their vision to the fullest.

What was your experience like during the event?

I was nervous, but I felt a sense of pressure and hope. Tattooing is a job full of pressure. We are taking something that someone else envisions in their head and asking them to verbally describe it so that we can envision it in our mind and produce that image on their body for the rest of their life. Tattooing someone that has survived and fought for their life, who is so strong, but needs to see the beauty in themselves, brings up a different level of emotions and pressure. To be a part of their journey and help put cancer behind them as much as possible, is a deeply rewarding feeling. Watching them look in the mirror and see how strong and beautiful they have always been, instead of a constant reminder of their battle, is an amazing feeling.

How did you feel when you saw your recipient see their tattoo in the mirror for the first time (the reveal)?

I was overwhelmed with seeing the transformation of how recipients see themselves – to be able to look in the mirror and see their beauty, not their cancer. I felt grateful to be able to have the opportunity to share this experience with them. I will remember and feel a connection with everyone that was a part of the day, especially the recipients that I have been lucky enough to be a part of their journey and transformation.

How has being involved in Days influenced your work as an artist?

As artists that tattoo day in and day out, I think we have to remember that every tattoo we do is a lifelong transformation and experience. Tattooing for and seeing the recipient’s experience allowed me to see that every tattoo I do is an event and experience for the recipient, but also for me. I treasure everyone I am lucky enough to tattoo and I try to realize the experience and meaning it is for every one of my clients. helped me see that more than ever.

What would you say to another artist or shop owner who may be interested in getting involved with is so important for healing and transformation, and is the epitome of tattooing. If I could participate in events like this every day I would, so to be able to do so even once a year is a great opportunity. I did not participate to get anything in return, but I ended up feeling like I got more out of it than the time I gave. It is a lifelong transformation for everyone involved in

Hear more from Jen about her experience as a artist.


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