xxx = Creatures Acrylics and PopUps Oh My Tom Strom and Jackee Sandelands EP 272 Creatures_Acrylics_and_PopUps_Oh_My__Tom_Strom_and_Jackee_Sandelands__EP_272 Fireside Tattoo Network

Business and Mindset: Creatures Acrylics and PopUps Oh My Tom Strom and Jackee Sandelands EP 272

Creatures, Acrylics and Pop-Ups?! Oh My! | Tom Strom and Jackee Sandelands | EP 272

We’ve got an incredible show for you today! An absolute power couple in the tattoo and art worlds. Tom Strom and Jackee Sandelands give us an incredibly wide ranging conversation. 

They speak about their experiences coming up in tattooing, living abroad, having multiple skill sets in multiple disciplines, and even talk about building POP-UPS!!! What?! We really hope you enjoy this interview as much as Jake did, and a HUGE thanks to Tom Strom and Jackee Sandelands for taking the time to share their art brains with us.

This episode was made possible thanks to:

Interview by By Jake Meeks —

Writing By Daniel Pushcarich —

Topics: Coil Tattoo Machines, London, Scotland, Netherlands, Virginia, Acrylic painting, Illustrative Tattooing, Pop-up books


Painting Collaboration Tom Strom and Jackee Sandelands

“That’s when both of us really became better at painting. Which was really valuable, it wasn’t necessarily the goal… But, having that much time we just started working and working, and getting to where we’re at now.”

— Jackee Sandelands

Tom Strom (@tomstrom) produces imaginative and creative artwork.  While tattooing was his focus for many years, and he’s been tattooing for over 25 years, he has now transitioned to share equal time between the finer arts and tattoo arts.  He’s taught himself over time to skillfully use watercolour, acrylics, oils and more.

Jackee Sandelands-Strom (@sandelands) work has always revolved around realism and in recent years has honed in on painting primarily peoples hands with tattoos. She has been involved in the tattoo industry one way or another for over 20 years and it has heavily influenced her current passion for this topic. In her view “painting hands is another form of portrait painting” as it can show a lot about the subject's passions, whether reflected in the tattoos or what they may be holding in the painting.

Tom and Jackee are based in Richmond, VA and tattoo at Fable Tattoo Gallery

Please enjoy!

Tom Strom Skeleton rabbit eating a heart



  • Connect with Tom Strom:

Website | @tomstrom | Linktree

  • Connect with Jackee Sandelands-Strom:

Website | @sandelands | Linktree

Jackee Sandelands acrylic painting hyper realistic hand and teacup


  • [02:35] Creative Living Around the Globe! Exploring New Territory To Explore Yourself
  • [9:53] A Little History, A Little Painting. Jackee’s Creative Journey
  • [14:42] Tom's Background, Influences, & Unique Artistic Perspective
  • [20:16] Kids These Days Don't Know Nothing About Coils…
  • [25:56] Separated Styles, Traditional Tattooing vs Hyper-Realism Painting
  • [30:37] Simplifying Your Process For Out-Of-Towners
  • [33:18] Realism Tattooing Drive Me Insane
  • [35:14] Back to Basics, Tom's Approach To Tattooing Today
  • [42:09] The Ups and Downs of the Art Market
  • [44:07] You Never Know What Might Pop-Up
  • [48:45] Teaching at Paradise! Learn to Paint Tattoos With Jackee!
  • [52:20] Reach Out and Get In Touch with Tom and Jackee


Creative Living Around the Globe! Exploring New Territory To Explore Yourself

[02:35] “The benefit of moving was to kind of slow down and figure ourselves out as artists. We were in the Netherlands and Scotland with all their great Museums. So it was really just starting to learn to paint more.”

— Tom Strom

As a Tattooer or an artist in general it’s really important to travel and explore different places around the country and around the world. Travel is one of the only times you really get to have a unique experience from your everyday shop or studio experience. Tom and Jackee took that to a much further extent by moving to another country and trying to live among some different cultures and people. Often times travel can act as a way to really drive your creativity into new areas. You never know when a landscape or building might inspire a design, or even just a conversation with someone.

Certain individuals don’t really like the word “vacation” though. They feel like it’s a lazy idea, “if you’re doing what you love then you’re not working”, RIGHT?! While that may be true in some ways, taking time-off of tattooing to focus on recharging doesn’t have to be a vacation. It can be time for classes, building your craft and working on new ideas, or unveiling a new perspective. Time-off can really be another way of honing skills. 

Separated Styles, Traditional Tattooing vs Hyper-Realism Painting

[25:56] “I’m going completely against what I paint and just trying to do traditional tattoos, because I do want it to be absolutely fun and different from what I do on a normal basis.”

— Jackee Sandelands

As an artist, it's important to mix things up now and then. Trying out various mediums and styles can be a real game-changer. When you dabble in different materials and techniques, you're not just expanding your creative toolkit, you're also spicing up your artistic journey. It's like taking a detour on the road to inspiration, and sometimes those detours lead to the coolest discoveries.

Jackee Sandelands American Traditional Tattoos, Rubber hose lion, eyeball spider, whiskey drink

Experimenting with new styles is like giving your creativity a breath of fresh air. You might be surprised at the incredible ideas that emerge when you step out of your comfort zone. Plus, being a versatile artist means you can connect with a wider audience and show off the many facets of your creative spirit.

Some artists that work in a very highly detailed realistic style might benefit from something a bit more loose or abstract. Conversely an artist that draws in a very fun illustrative style might dive into something more realistic or concrete.  It's about embracing the ever-changing nature of art and finding beauty in every twist and turn of your creative journey.

Simplifying Your Tattoo Process For Out-Of-Towners

[30:37]  “Over the years I’m getting larger work, and it’s stressful because people travel and I might not see them for a year. It hasn’t forced me to be faster, but it’s made me readjust my process. Illustrating with more flatness, relying on linework more and less on my shading.”

— Tom Strom

Some tattooers have different processes for different types of clientele. You’ll have home clients, Out-of-town persons, and some people that will meet you halfway at a convention. It can be really beneficial to have different approaches to tattooing in different situations. When tattooing at home with local clients it’s a lot easier to have a person come in for multiple sessions over shorter periods of time. If you’re someone with a mixed audience like Tom you’ll have a lot of people who travel to see you and that can pose a lot of challenges.

tom strom tattoos, deer being held by wood skeleton hand, spider bird owl

It’s good to have a more simplified version of your process so that you’re giving that particular client a substantial product and making your life easier in the future. You want the client to leave with a great experience and a finished or mostly finished tattoo, and you’ll have an easier time jumping back into a larger scale project.

You Never Know What Might Pop-Up In Tattooing

[44:07]  “I was just doing the same thing all the time, as tattooers we’re all doing the same thing. Painting, making prints, shirts, etc. I wanted to find something challenging that people weren’t doing, and pop-ups have been way more challenging than tattooing by a landslide”

— Tom Strom

Diving into different mediums and styles as an artist is like embarking on a thrilling adventure where you never quite know what lies around the corner. It's a reminder that creativity knows no bounds and that there are infinite ways to express yourself. 

tom strom pop-up book creepy deer head skeleton

Whether you're a painter experimenting with digital art, a sculptor trying your hand at ceramics, or a graphic designer exploring traditional illustration, each new venture enriches your artistic repertoire. It's not just about adding tools to your toolbox; it's about embracing the joy of continuous learning and self-discovery, ultimately fueling your passion for art and inspiring others along the way.


hyper realistic acrylic painting of a hand holding an animal eyeball




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