Rainbow Rose Tattoo and Art Gallery Opens in Boulder Creek

By Julie Horner

In Body Art as Visual Language, Enid Schildkrout writes, “Body art is not just the latest fashion. In fact, if the impulse to create art is one of the defining signs of humanity, the body may well have been the first canvas. Body art communicates a person’s status in society; displays accomplishments; and encodes memories, desires, and life histories.”

Self-taught artist and Boulder Creek resident, Jesse James Cole has opened Rainbow Rose Tattoo, an uncluttered studio with a dash of vintage in Boulder Creek at the south edge of town. The tidy corner office at 12615 Highway 9 shares a parking lot with the Valley Laundrette and Creekside Wellness.

Cole applied his first tattoo when he was 14. Specializing in the neo traditional style, Cole’s pieces use natural imagery such as florals, animals, and other motifs embellished with lush decorative details using a broad color palette. Equipped with the latest protective gear and a cordless, wi-fi operated hand-held tattoo machine that uses sanitized disposable needle cartridges, Cole can move effortlessly around his canvas. “All my equipment is brand new. My machine is completely wireless. There’s no power supply, no clip cords, and I love it.”

Finished Tattoo at Rainbow Rose Tattoo in Boulder Creek

Cole first sits with the client to explain Body Art Health and Safety Regulations in Santa Cruz County, notates the client’s medical history, goes over health precautions and disclosures, and stresses the importance of aftercare following the application. “Santa Cruz County makes us keep records of each tattoo procedure,” Cole said. “Every time I use a cartridge, I have to say who I used it on and report the lot number.” He notes the date and time of use. Cartridges that have gone past their expiration date are discarded. Adamant about the presentation, Cole provides a clean, professional tattoo experience.

Jesse James Cole of Rainbow Rose Tattoo

Cole is building his team with artist and tattoo apprentice Jessica Wing Daniel, whose works were featured in a hanging art exhibition at the shop in October. Wing is also a beloved mixologist at Joe’s Bar. Miguel Torres, who specializes in Chicano, Mayan, and Aztec art has also joined the team.

The skull and the rainbow logo for Rainbow Rose Tattoo have meaning, Cole said. “A rose in the tattoo industry represents life, the skull represents death. What we do in between is what defines us as human beings.”

(831) 703-4754 | |

Photos of Jesse James Cole by Julie Horner. Tattoo photo by Jesse James Cole.

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