Mark Jusmark | Creating masterpieces on skin

Mark Jusmark seated in front of one of his canvas prints. | Priya Hutner

Mark Jusmark, owner of Truth Tattoo, has been creating beautiful art on people’s bodies for more than 18 years. His wife Anna, now a hairstylist at Coupe Sixty-One Hair Salon in Truckee, and her friend talked him into getting his first tattoo and becoming a tattoo apprentice back in Maui, Hawaii, where he was living at the time. Jusmark has been a Tahoe resident for 13 years, creating masterpieces on skin at his studio in downtown Truckee.

“Tattooing is magic. It’s transformative. It’s a meditative practice. Tattoos shape you. Tattooing has become my church, my spiritual practice.”
–Mark Jusmark

Jusmark designs custom tattoos. Unlike many tattoo venues, there is no art on the walls to choose from in his studio. Instead, beautiful canvas paintings grace the walls. Jusmark has been an artist and painter since he was a young boy. Hanging on the back wall of his studio is a large piece of artwork, which at first glance appears to depict flowing clouds on a bright blue background. A closer look reveals a person meditating made from those swirling clouds. He is a long-time meditation practitioner and it is meditation that helps him drop into the zone while working with his clients. It helps him understand what they want on their body.

Mark Jusmark shows his personal wrist tattoos. | Priya Hutner

He says he makes it his business to know who’s who in the tattoo world from Reno to Sacramento: “I don’t specialize in portraits. It’s best to know who that person is or who the best watercolor or black work guy is.”

According to Jusmark, his talent lies in “making people’s dreams come alive.” Part of the process is to figure out what the client wants, what is in his or her mind and what is his or her expectation. When a client decides on the color purple, Jusmark needs to figure out what shade.

“There are a lot of shades of purple. Do you want heavy lines? I need to get from their mind to my mind, from my hand to their body,” he explains.

Canvas of lady in the tree. | Priya Hutner

Jusmark uses a practice he learned in Hawaii called Huna dreaming. He asks clients to pick a time of day and imagine a setting with the same smells and surroundings. He has them sit at the same time and spot for a series of days and look at magazines, marking with a sticky note each photo that speaks to them or catches their eye.

“Then I tell them to put the magazines away for two days,” he says. “It’s about dreaming.”

Eventually, he instructs the client to narrow the images down to the three that resonate. This begins the process. He has clients do the dream process for a month sometimes.

“It helps to break it down. Speaking the same language, listening to the interpretation. I don’t want anything in my head as to what I think they want. I show up to be a tool for you,” he says.

Mark Jusmark’s leg tattoo of the lady in the tree. | Priya Hutner

Tattooing clients is like meditation, he says. He is focused and detailed. He becomes one with his client. During a session, he walks people through their pain. The breath is a key to help alleviate the pain.

“I have them take three breaths — ten seconds in, hold the breath for five and breathe out ten seconds. Tattooing is an absolute world,” he says. “I don’t want to make a mistake on skin.”

Jusmark creates tattoos of any size, full body or small designs. He has created many works of art on Tahoe bodies and his paintings can be found hanging in numerous establishments around Tahoe including the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema, where a painting of Chewbacca watches as you purchase your popcorn.

“Tattooing is magic. It’s transformative. It’s a meditative practice. Tattoos shape you. Tattooing has become my church, my spiritual practice,” says Jusmark.

I was so inspired by him, I made an appointment to have him help me design a new tattoo. |