Interviews

Published on August 15th, 2019 | by Jerry Doby

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Nessie Blaze of VH1’s “Black Ink Crew Compton” Talks Her Journey

Back Story – Pennsylvania native, Nessie is a dedicated and hardworking full-time mixed media artist specializing in realistic tattoo artsy. Nessie creates a beautiful and unique style of artwork with various mediums. She has a wide range of experience and ability including but not limited to creating live art, custom canvas art, hand-painted apparel, murals, tattoos, and body paint. With over 10-years of experience in painting. Gaining clientele across multiple cities, she is currently bi-coastal and has participated in many different art shows and competitions in cities across the U.S.

Nessie is a cast member on the history-making “Black Ink Crew Compton” which represents the first legal tattoo shop in the City of Compton, California. Coming to California six years ago with a mere $300 to her name, the young stalwart has made her living plying her trade as a tattoo artist from the confines of her living room until being added to the cast of the iconic reality show brand.

The Hype Magazine got Nessie to weigh in on her journey and what it means to be crossing over literally from struggling artist to one of the cast members of the new offering from the Black Ink franchise:

Black Ink Crew Compton’s Nessie Blaze (Photo courtesy of VH1)

So from the outside looking in, let’s talk about Nessie Blaze, let us know who she is and what she’s into.

Nessie Blaze: I am painter, tattoo artist, muralist, lyricist and philanthropist I’m honestly just a hustler, like I came out here from the suburbs of Philly about six years ago with $300.00 to my name and I have been doing art full time ever since I got here, all the way up until I just got this opportunity to be on Black Ink Crew Compton on VH1, which like you said premieres this Wednesday. I am so excited. It’s going to be really dope, so I cannot wait.

How did that come about? Was it because of your art shows or how did you link up with Black Ink?

Nessie Blaze: Honestly, I interviewed for Black Ink, Chicago about two years ago. But I can honestly say I was not ready; I just wasn’t ready for that limelight yet. I just felt like I had a lot more work and development to do on myself, but then my homie Lemeir from Philly, who is also on the show, he actually recommended me for it and I turned it down at first and then I changed my mind and when I reached out to him, the opportunity was still available and so VH1 called me the next day and we went through the whole process, and it’s getting ready to air. So, I am really ecstatic about it.

What excited you the most about joining this iconic brand?

Nessie Blaze: Well, first it’s the only and first tattoo shop ever in Compton that legally exists. So I feel like it’s history in the making and not only that, we have a lot of dope artist on our team. Everybody worked really hard to get here, it wasn’t anything that had to do with luck at all, it was just really hard work, hustle and grind and then I went straight from working in my living room to VH1. You know I haven’t been in a shop in six years since I moved out here, I have been literally doing tattoos out of my house using Instagram and Facebook for promo. So it’s really just a blessing that the hustle pays off at the end of the day, you know, you can go places.

So your specialty is reality tattoos? Do I understand that correctly?

Nessie Blaze: Yeah, realism (laughs). Like portraits and just realistic style tattoos, really soft grey shading. I am not too big on like lines and stuff like that I like to create a soft portrait and things like that.

So outside of tattooing, you’re a music artist as well, I got a chance to check your compilation, Nessie Blaze compilation, which dropped in April.

Nessie Blaze: Yes. (laughs)

You’ve got some skills.

Nessie Blaze: Thank you. Thank you, I can’t wait to show you guys new music I have coming, that compilation album is just a couple of songs from my past few projects. I pulled three E.P.’s that I put out and just put up my favorite six songs from that. But those are all like at least three years old. So I am excited to show my development as an artist and how I’ve grown through just learning about the music industry.

What brought you to music?

Nessie Blaze: It was just another way that I could get to influence people. I don’t feel like there is anybody or any woman in my lane, as far as what I am trying to do with music. I don’t necessarily do it for any type of fame or check or money. It’s more so for influence. Same way Nipsey inspired people, and he didn’t conform to whatever people wanted him to be, to be bigger, you know. He’s like, I make music for people who want to listen to it, you know. I am gonna attract the right people just sticking to who I am, and I want to do that too, and you know not everybody likes tattoos and art, but music is the only way I have learned that you can teach people without knowing that you are teaching them and it’s like super addictive. So you know, like even if you hear it once you learn something and that is really important to me, to be able to spread the message and try to teach people without feeling like I am trying to school them because nobody wants to be told what to do.

You can teach without being preachy. Right, Okay.

Nessie Blaze: Exactly.

Okay, so what’s the most fun about being Nessie right now? Besides being busy. (laughs)

Nessie Blaze: (laughs) I think just the whole set life and just the transition, it feels surreal to me. I literally keep VH1 on my t.v., one I haven’t had cable in like ten years, just because I have been so busy and I’ll just watch Netflix when I can, but even then I don’t really watch t.v. like that, so I just got cable again just for it, and every time the commercial comes on, I am just like is this real? I feel like I am just watching YouTube you know, ’cause it’s just not sinking in for me. It’s just, I know it’s honestly just a blessing, I still don’t even know how (laughs) to let it sink in yet.

Yeah. It will marinate, you’ll get it, and you won’t be able to go out your front door pretty soon.

Nessie Blaze: Oh man (laughs).

Look I gotta ask though because I have watched the Black Ink Franchise. I haven’t seen anybody do a tattoo yet. Are y’all going to actually do some tattooing? (laughs)

Nessie Blaze: Oh, you are going to see me do a tattoo on there for sure. I love this tattoo and even when it’s not on camera, a lot of us are still working, tattoos take so long, so I mean they can’t really keep a camera on us for the whole process, because otherwise you know it would be like watching Ink Masters. They are the competition show you know. I feel like people watch it for the reality of our lives too. So, they capture our tattoos, if not as much, because it’s just a fraction of our lives and it’s based on our lives.

I wanna see the tattoos, I’ve been looking. All the excitement is cool, but I know that there are some badass artist on your teams and I am trying to see some work, so I am glad you said we get a chance to see some of your work.

Nessie Blaze: Yeah you will get to see a lot on this one because it’s Ink Art Music, so the name of the shop is “I AM” and it stands of for Ink, Art, Music, and K.P., also the owner of the shop, he also does music. I do murals with other painters in the shop, so it’s like we have a lot to bring to the table versus just tattoos, so you will get to see a lot of different things on this series.

Outside of the music and the art, talk to us about Nessie, what flips your switch?

Nessie Blaze: I really just want to make a difference you know. I started out doing things for my mom, just personally I just want to give her back everything that she’s done for me. Cause she had me when she was 19, so she never really got a chance to like do what I’m doing now, just live freely and make for lack of better words irresponsible decisions, like moving to L.A. with $300.00, but she never got a chance to chase her dream and so I want to make my dreams come true and give that time back to her, I just want to be able to call her and be like mom, you know you don’t gotta go to work no more. She’s a hard worker, she probably will anyway. That’s just who she is at heart, but I want her to know she doesn’t have to. You don’t feel like going to work one day you don’t have to do that, because we won’t be in a struggle and then aside from that, I also just want to be an example.

Nessie Blaze: I’ve had different examples as far as people providing a different aspect or aspect of what they do to inspire me, but not one person had it all, you know where it was just like, yo I literally came from nothing and then I got a full scholarship to Penn State, you know I tried to go the school route. I tried to go for Criminal Justice and go to Law School, but it just wasn’t for me and I was brave enough to make that decision to not go that route.

Man, that took a lot of intestinal fortitude to come to L.A. with $300.00 in your pocket. Yeah.

Nessie Blaze: Yes (laughs). It was scary, it was hard, I am not going to lie. For two years it was really hard.

That was courageous, I mean when you landed how did you land? I mean like you had a friend or something or somebody out here?

Nessie Blaze: I didn’t know anyone, I moved out here with an ex. Honestly, I didn’t even want to come at first, cause I was just like, this is a very irresponsible decision. But, I felt really in my heart that I had to take that chance and my ex would tell me, the worst-case scenario is it doesn’t work out, you still did more than most people will ever do. You still tried and if not, you go back and you are back where you started and at the time I was just waiting tables, I was just waitressing, so it wasn’t like I had a great job to go back to and even my job at the time when I told her, I actually went and visited L.A. about three months before I actually moved. I took a week off and I came to visit L.A. just to see what it was like and when I came back, the owner of the whole restaurant, she had taken me off the schedule and I am just like why did you take me off when I am coming back and she’s like honestly, I think you are meant for bigger things, I didn’t want to come back, I was hoping I would get a call saying you were going to stay out there and chase your dreams and pursue your art. That just set a whole tone for my life and like wow, I work for you.

Nessie Blaze: That was just really a blessing to, which is like for people to see that in me.

Yeah, she believed in you and saw something greater and was like this is not a waitress type of person.

Nessie Blaze: Right (laughs).

It’s an amazing story. What are you most looking forward to as Black Ink takes off in Compton and the doors that are going to open for you and probably have already started to open? I know you can’t tell us too much about the show, you gave us probably more than you were supposed to by saying, I get to see you tattoo. (laughs) But what are you most looking forward to as this show progresses and as your time in L.A. progresses?

Nessie Blaze: As I said, I am looking forward to making a difference, I just really want to set that example, like I want other women, even not just women, like kids or anyone to look and be like, you know what. Even if you decide to go the school route or you decide to go, for the lack of better terms, the normal route. I wouldn’t call it normal, but just what you’ve seen already. Like you can make a different decision and you can really chase your dream and it can really work out even if it doesn’t seem like it will. You know, I struggled really hard for like two years out here. I had less than $20.00 in my account you know, but I had to make a decision that like I wasn’t going to settle, I wasn’t going to quit and I wasn’t going home and I feel like that faith will take you places, when you just believe in yourself and I just want to show people, like yo I didn’t cheat to gain. I never sold drugs, I never was a stripper, I never had any extra money to sit on, to like back me up and I haven’t had a job since I moved to L.A., so it’s just been all off Instagram and word of mouth, like genuine hustle that got me the clients that I have enough to stay above water.

Nessie Blaze: I know anybody could do that if I could do it. I want to see that, I wanna see what comes from people going for their dreams.

Well, congratulations and I am wishing you much-continued success. Certainly an example I would like for my daughter to see and it’s definable a great story. Is there anything that you wanted to cover, that I may have missed?

Nessie Blaze: No, I just hope that everybody tunes in on Wednesday and definitely check out my music, I have some new stuff coming, that’s on Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud. I know pretty soon I am going to start speaking at different schools and different events, just motivational stuff, so I’ll definitely post that whenever that’s gonna happen, but I’m excited.

Why are you are doing what you are doing?

Nessie Blaze: I just really want to inspire people, I just want to be that example for other women. I feel like being yourself is enough, you know keeping your integrity, I don’t feel like anybody’s really set that example where they have like entirely like kinda played by the rules and made it so far. Just do that, give back to my family and not become some like Hollywood, just like you can’t get in touch with me like I want to be able to touch people still. I look up to Yenisey Hustle a lot, RIP to the king. But just how he always, he never got too big to go back and give his gain to the people. I want to do that for women or just be a woman that is doing it for everybody, especially in music, influencing people. Just, really like I said setting an example, being the first of my kind to do it.

When you say playing by the rules, what do you mean by that?

Nessie Blaze: Like keeping your integrity. I feel like a lot of people and do disrespect to people who flip the negative to a positive or made like a really bad situation into a good situation, but like I said there are people who, like Jay-Z or people who started labels, people had drug money to start with. They kinda started off on the wrong foot and then they turned into something great, but what if you can’t do that? What if you can’t go sell drugs or like certain women in the game, who were strippers first and you had that money to sit on, because that’s a big help to have the money to do things and for me to travel 3,000 miles and have $300.00 and never go back home unless you know I wanted to afford to fly back and forth. That would have taken probably twenty flights back and forth just to work, or I would go to Atlanta with $40.00 in my account and come back with $200.00, just hustling.

Nessie Blaze: I am just like if I make any type of profit, it’s worth it and just moving with faith versus comfort, or the backing or guarantee that you were going to be okay in the long run. Like I never knew if I was going to be okay. I honestly like somedays I would wake up and be like I don’t even know how I am gonna eat today, but I know I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, and I am not going to step on anybody or crush people on the way up. I am not going to be in competition with anybody else. I just barely worked on me, and I was really focused on self-mastery and spiritually too. Just making sure I was okay with who I was, and my energy was straight and that I wasn’t making anybody feel less than. I made my mistakes just like anybody does, but like I said I feel like I really played like I walked a straight line, and I didn’t have a plan and nothing really made sense, but I knew where I was headed, and I was determined to get there.

Nessie Blaze: I want to show people, you don’t have to compromise anything, you don’t have to compromise your integrity, you don’t gotta compromise who you are, who you are is enough, God made you exactly who you are supposed to be.

Let’s have some fun. What’s your best struggle chef menu item?

Nessie Blaze: (laughs) Best struggle chef menu item, oh my gosh. Well in college it was just like of course Oodles of Noodles. Oodles of Noodles babies. I just had some the other day, you know you still miss it here and there, even though that you can afford different stuff. Oodles of Noodles and then when I first moved out here, I remember with my ex we had like no money and I am kinda irresponsible with spending, I’m not gonna lie. We would eat the same thing every day and like to this day I refuse to eat a turkey burger, because we would just these packs of turkey burgers, these jumbo packs and like have it every single night, with like a can of, you know those little. $1.99 or $.79 vegetables every single day and I was just like oh my gosh. Then we upgraded to Tilapia, but we were just buying like two pieces at a time from Ralph’s that they cooked for you. It’ll be like $2.00 each or whatever, but I was just so sick of, I think I am going to stay far away from those foods for a while. (laughing)

Wow, okay that’s a struggle. That’s a struggle chef menu, kinda situation.

How have you treated yourself since then?

Nessie Blaze: You know I have a really hard time spending on myself, I don’t like to spend on stuff that doesn’t make me money, especially when I haven’t invested in anything. I don’t want to be flashy before I have, before I really have like really ownership or like something to really like work for me, but I bought an Ipad Pro, nothing too crazy, but was really happy that I just bought the Ipad Pro, because it made my work so much easier, I can get my drawings done so much faster. That was my gift to myself when I got my first check from the show. I just like you know what, I’m going to spend $1,000.00 on this Ipad right now and I’m going to love it. I was just really hyped over that.



About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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