We absolutely love the talented Leah Jade (@leahjadeluna), who is an incredible muse for FARA as well as a tattoo artist living her best life here in Goa.
We recently worked with her on a photoshoot with the incredible photographer @Yanikafoto and the results were magical. Leah’s striking beauty, playfulness and humble power shone through the photos and we were mesmerized. We saw her fantastic tattoo artistry and we decided to sit down with her to catch a glimpse of her story and get to know this amazing woman a little better.
When and how did you first discover Goa?
I discovered Goa on my first trip to India in 2015. I had always been fascinated and very familiar with Indian culture as my grandparents spent many years coming here, my grandmother especially was an eccentric hippie who lived in India for some time and considered herself Hindu. Our homes were decorated with sarees and small statues and wall hangings of Ganesha, Shiva and Krishna. And we always went to great Indian restaurants in London to celebrate Diwali and other festivals. My deep love and soul tie for this country travels beyond this lifetime! I started my first trip in Kerala and my second stop was Goa. I found this wonderful little free town called Arambol, full of creative people from all over. Although I felt something very magical about this place I had planned the trip in advance so I couldn’t stay. I came back 4 years later and this is now my home!
Many people ask what daily life is like for us in Goa, what does it look like for you?
Life in Goa can be very tranquil. I say can be because if you’re a productive person, in the height of the season, there is a lot going on. However the general vibe is very free flow, shanti shanti. Plans are pretty loose and flexible so it helps if you are too.
When I’m not working, my average day looks like waking up in my jungle home, hearing only the many birds that surround this land. Maybe taking a bicycle ride to my yoga class through the village, waving at little children and admiring the grandmothers drying spices on the street or taking their cows for a morning stroll. I normally meet friends for coffee or juice, or go to sit in a quiet place to do a little work. I go swimming! Eat great food on the beach. Uniting with friends for sunset is a ritual a lot of us do here. It’s simple but precious. And for the evening, well, there are many things to choose from. Many of us are creatives and musicians so every night there is someone performing somewhere!
How did you become a tattoo artist and what’s it like traveling the world with this art form?
I started tattooing around 7 years ago after meeting a freelance artist who became a friend of mine. He inspired me. I remember meeting him at my aunt’s house as he was tattooing her and something suddenly hit me like “I can draw art on people and get paid for it, and I don’t have to work for anyone?! What!” Haha and so I started to assist him on a few of his sessions, and a few months later my grandparents bought me a beginners kit for Christmas! I had been drawing since I was a child, art was the only consistent interest in my life. I spent the next months practicing my sketching skills and then I picked up the machine. Luckily I had a few friends who were willing to let me practice on them. I became super intrigued by the sensation of tattooing but I also was skeptical because it’s actually a very heavy job. You know, inking permanent art onto people. Never mind cross contamination and all that scary stuff. I was on and off with the practice, working from home but having other jobs. Then around 3 years ago I started to work in a beautiful all female studio run by an artist I had been following on Instagram for a few years, and that’s where I can say I really started my career. Working alongside these incredible artists, who became great friends of mine, propelled me into developing my own style and therefore attracting the type of clientele that aligned with my work. This is a very special type of work to travel with, as it is on demand almost everywhere and especially in places like Goa, where art and spirituality is highly appreciated – it is the perfect place to connect to people and evolve as an artist. I’ve met many amazing people through this medium, most of them I’m still connected to today after sharing such intimate sessions. Over the years, along with my spiritual growth, I have deepened my understanding of tattooing as a tool for healing and with this understanding I am able to bridge the gap between my soul path and worldly work. I now work from my peaceful home studio, holding space for those who want to mark a significant time and those who want to decorate their vessel. I feel truly blessed to work gifting this medicine, while supporting the way of life I want to live.
What are some of your ideas around living sustainably, and has living in Goa helped you to manifest those ideas?
How does your art allow you to connect with people as you travel?
This is my third season here yet already by the first I had met and tattooed a lot of people so it was easy to establish myself by the second time I came. There’s a big soul family who travel throughout the world to certain seasonal places like Goa, Ibiza, Bali, Mexico. There’s a chance you will bump into someone who knows or has heard of you so I feel there’s a lot of connection and that helps. For now tattooing is my only source of income so when I decide where to travel I do consider the places in which there are this type of community. Instagram has been my main way of sharing my work and I get messages from all over, sometimes I travel to a place or sometimes the person travels to me. My work kind of guides me around the world, it’s amazing!
Are you able to incorporate your sustainability ideas into your craft?
I feel working with the hand poke technique is a lot more sustainable than working with the machine. I have much less disposable equipment to buy and it’s portable! I don’t need electricity and I can take it anywhere. I’m still not totally plastic free! That’s probably the one thing that I dislike about this work, I have to wrap everything in cling film! But I do use a lot less. Hand poke is less damaging to the skin therefore there is less risk of infection so I don’t go overboard with the cling film like when I was using the machine. Overall it really is a more natural way of inking. I’m deeply inspired by tribal art from all over the world and when I watch videos of the tribes in India making tattoos, some are using ash and plants for the ink and a sharp wooden stick to poke! I love that. If I live out of Europe for long enough that may just be me in the future! Another aspect of sustainability with this work is that there are many gifted people here and on the road, and I’m always open to exchanging skills instead of cash if it resonates
What are your dreams for the future, for yourself and/or for this planet?
For my future my dream is to live in a peaceful but vibrant community on some tropical land surrounded by the growing soul family of world artists and musicians. Off. The. Grid. Please.
I wish to be surrounded by creative energy for the rest of my life! To grow my veggies and herbs, to pick fruit from the trees. To work with the earth and make potions for the people. For my children to be open and free, and feel like they have multiple parents. I would love for this space to be a resting place for travelers to pass through and experience an organic lifestyle and share their art. For many years already I have seen my older self, a wise grandmother with all the stories and remedies and secrets. That is all I wish to aspire to. I believe the world would be a great place if most people wished for this kind of future! I have high hopes in humans, despite the times. I do believe that this age will bring us much light and that one day we will be able to live in freedom and give back to this planet all the love she needs to thrive.
If you could go on any adventure around the world, where would it be?
There are many places I’d love to go to! Like toooo many places I want to visit in this lifetime. To spend a few years travelling Africa is a big dream of mine. I’d love to have a boat and island hop around the Pacific’s and the Caribbean, imagine that! Or to travel from Europe to Asia and beyond on a bus. Nowadays I have less of a desire to just travel to visit and more to find roots and integrate into communities and tribes. To live in places and really get a feel and understanding of the land and the people. Travel is one of the biggest teachers of culture and ancient teachings. So visiting indigenous tribes and learning their ways of art and healing is fuel for my future travel agenda.
What an inspiration.
Thank you so much Leah, for all the beauty you create and share!
For more inspiring conversations check out the interviews in Muses. And to see more of Leah Jade and her gorgeous Tattoo artistry, you can follow her on Instagram @leahjadeluna