Opening his Instagram direct messages, Jack Hjerpe ’17 was shocked to see a woman asking him if she could use one of his posted drawings, a pair of lips with a geometric design, as a tattoo. After deciding on a price, Hjerpe agreed to turn his artwork into a tattoo. Hjerpe recalled this experience in ninth grade as a turning point in his artistic career during an interview with The Phillipian.
“She sent me a photo of my drawing on her ribcage. This was right when I began to take artwork seriously, and someone wanted to put my artwork on their body forever. I cried a little bit. It was really exciting. [Now], a lot of people reach out to me asking about tattoo designs. When it started, I would post them on Instagram, and then other people would see and want tattoos. I’ve probably done tattoo designs for 20-40 people. Every time, it’s still equally as exciting,” said Hjerpe.
Hjerpe’s Instagram, @jackyerps, which has garnered thousands of followers, is a vital part of his art career. Through initially modeling, high-profile accounts with thousands of followers would post pictures of him and tag his page, leading his artist profile to generate more traffic.
“[The photographers] inspired me to become more involved in my own art and really show me that art could become a career, and it can become something that you’re really serious about and that you can build a life around as opposed to just a side hobby,” said Hjerpe.
Last summer, between his Upper and Senior year, Hjerpe’s work was featured in an exhibition in a gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y. The show highlighted reactions of queer artists to the Orlando, Fla. massacre in 2016.
“I struggle a lot in terms of where art falls between aesthetic and meaning and between making something beautiful and making something to make a statement… What I appreciate most about drawing and painting is being able to take it into your own hands and decide what you want to see and making it more through your own lens, pardon the pun. I thought that [exhibit] was really great. For me, I felt like I had found something that actually achieved good. That was probably my highlight of my art career,” said Hjerpe.
Hjerpe is able to foster his art creativity and collaboration as a co-head of Art for Expression (AFE), a club that uses art as an instrument of self-expression and fosters mental well being.
“It’s great having Jack as a part of the AFE team; his genuine excitement about art and his great personality makes club meetings an enjoyable place to be at. He has a lot of great ideas for projects and getting to know him through AFE has been a fantastic experience,” said Alice Lu ’17, co-head of AFE.
Hjerpe’s role in photography has led to expanding upon his passion for his own drawings. Despite the demands of attending Andover, Hjerpe continues to post pictures of his artwork, as well as pictures of his pieces as tattoos on people, on his Instagram to share with the greater community online.
“I was blown away by his Instagram and the paintings and drawings on there… He really loves painting and drawing. I think it’s a bit of an escape for him when he’s here and gets the chance to work on his personal art projects,” said Charlotte Suan ’17, Hjerpe’s friend.
Hjerpe has been drawing and painting for much of his life as a result of his mother’s influence, who is a photographer. When he was younger, she always encouraged him and his brothers to explore the art world without pressuring them to pursue it.
“I’ve seen some of her photography from when she was in art school, and I really love it. I think it’s beautiful, but she doesn’t actually have enough work for it to really influence me. She’s definitely my biggest critic when it comes to art, and she’s always the person I go to to talk about it because she went to art school, she worked in the art world, and she has a lot of knowledge and judgement,” said Hjerpe.