Emi Nijiya is a talented tattoo artist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They created Jackalope Tattoo Shop in hopes of creating a safe and friendly space for everyone to be able to come in and get a unique and custom tattoo — but especially members of the LGBTQIA+ community , people of color, and women. What's more, all of the artists that work at Jackalope are women or non-binary identifying. That's why Emi Nijjiya is included in this special edition of Bustle's Must Follow, in which we highlight the incredible Asian American and Pacific Islander voices you need to follow on Instagram and Twitter.
Briefly describe yourself, including how you identify and what you do.
I identify as a non-binary Japanese American and am the owner and an artist of Jackalope Tattoo in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
What do you hope people take away from following you/your work in the industry and on social media?
In regards to my tattoo work and work in the industry I want my followers to know that there is a safe space in my shop for all different types of people. I try hard to cater most to LGBTQIA+, POC, and women. On social media I especially try to be visible as a non-binary human being and as a POC in the industry. I work hard to show that we respect pronouns, identities, gender and ethnicities at my shop. A significant part of my work is used for gender reassignment scar cover ups and mastectomy nipple reconstruction or scar coverups. I also make sure that all of my clients are given custom and quality work with every tattoo.
When did you first feel that you were a voice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?
I am not sure that I ever necessarily felt specifically that I was a voice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community at large. I do feel that I create a presence within an industry that doesn’t have many Asian American/Pacific Islanders or POC in general. By being visible in an industry that doesn’t have a lot of POC representation I am trying to help promote diversity and growth in our community.
Who's another Asian American or Pacific Islander person you would recommend to follow on social media?
I recommend following Bunny on instagram @bunnyakahk.
Follow Emi Nijiya on Instagram, @TattoosByEmi.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.