Tofino, Canada • lonelybanditstudio.com
Lonely Bandit Studio is headed by Noelle Jones: a digital illustrator and handpoke tattoo artist who works with everything from tattoos and album covers to surfboard glasswork and mural projects. Noelle says her illustrations tend toward the "odd, vintage surf-grunge meets spaghetti western category woven around the roots of 60’s and 70’s music subculture."
Probably the coolest thing about our concept is we get to meet, and get to know some really awesome people. We fell in love with Noelle Jones’ artwork the moment we came across her online shop, Lonely Bandit Studio. With her influences of the Wild West, the Grateful Dead/hippie counter culture of the 1960’s/70’s, and the rustic colors she often chooses to work with, our initial thought was that Noelle must be...like, our age (aka really old).
Our first zoom call with her told a different story. When we looked across the screen, we met a super smart, passionate and fiery artist filled with awesome energy and life….and someone who is a lot younger than we first imagined. A Bob Dylan song comes to mind when writing about Noelle: “She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back”. Noelle is a true rock star artist, and as Dylan also wrote, she painted us a masterpiece. We are just so happy our universes came together, if only for a little bit, but hope there will be more to come.
Q: Noelle - On your website, you describe your artistic style as “vintage surf-grunge meets spaghetti western category woven around the roots of 60’s and 70’s music subculture.” That is pretty fuckin’ cool. We are wondering, where did your artistic abilities stem from? Are your folks artists? Are they big hippies too?
A: Haha no, not really. Well my mum maybe, she’s always been a very tenacious do-it-yourselfer and she is quite literally a plant-whisperer, so a deep connection to the Earth was taught to me early on. Both of my parents always fostered my passions - whatever they were at the time. They changed a lot! But I’ve always found a really easy pathway to express myself through one creative outlet or another - I love living in the abstract areas of life - the ones up for interpretation. It was really only a matter of time before one of those creative outlets stuck.
Q: When and how did you become a handpoke tattoo artist? Is tattooing a preferred artistic genre for you? What is the craziest or weirdest tattoo you have given or received?
A: I’ve been illustrating for longer than I’ve been tattooing, but both mediums work my creative brain in different ways. I love tattooing for the sense of flow and focus it gives to me, as well as the benefit of being able to work with clients face-to-face. Illustration and design can be a very lone-wolfy career so it’s nice to be able to interact with people directly as well.
While I haven’t given anything tooooo crazy yet, and while I wouldn’t label any of my own tattoos crazy per se, I do have a bit of a tendency to get pretty (large) impulsive tattoos quite often however haha.
Q: Bob or Jerry?
A: Both, but Pig Pen will always have my heart.
Q: Top 3 Grateful Dead songs? Go!
A: Oh god, well right now I’ll maybe say:
-Hard to Handle from History of the Grateful Dead vol. 1 (Bear’s Choice)
-China Cat Sunflower from Europe 72’
-Morning Dew Live at Winterland 67’ off Anthem of the Sun
*Honourable mention Brent Mydland’s Dear Mr. Fantasy live from Sullivan Stadium in 89’
Q: Sports- I believe you told us you weren’t much of a tennis player. Any interest in playing tennis or other racket sports? Are you into playing or watching any other sports?
A: While I definitely have a massive respect for tennis players, I unfortunately do not hold a single shred of racquet sport talent within me. I grew up playing loads of different sports however, I was actually hoping to make the Olympic team at one point as a Luge athlete. I also played rugby for a few years during my university days, but now it’s surfing that takes up most of my time. My body has taken way too many hits over a mere two and a half decades and surfing is just a bit more laid back comparatively haha.
Q: If you could live in any generation, which one would it be?
A: Well I’m sure being the age that I am right now during the late sixties and early seventies in Southern California would have been something amazing. There’s definitely a lot to romanticize about that era - I mean what I wouldn’t give to be able to walk around Laurel Canyon back then or spend an evening at the Troubadour in 69’. But I think this question can be a bit complicated though. Before we romanticize the past too much, we definitely have to prioritize the fact that unless you were a straight, cis, white male during the sixties, you were up against varying degrees of serious systemic oppression at that time.
My hope, I guess, is that my generation can follow in the footsteps of those before us who fostered incredible joy and groundbreaking creative movements during periods of extreme strife, while working to figure out ways to fix the mistakes our parents’ generation made.
Q: We caught up mid/late summer and felt your pain as you told us about the wildfires around your home in British Columbia. How close did the fires get to you, and how bad was your area affected? Are you scared for the future?
A: Yeah I’m not going to lie, this summer was pretty terrible haha. While we’re no stranger to big fires in Western Canada (and the States of course) but this year felt especially heavy. For almost a month the smoke was so bad I couldn’t see 20 feet down the road and my lungs ached the moment I stepped outside. I watched the entire mountainside across the lake from where I’m living burn down twice, taking dozens of homes and hundreds of hectares of trees with it. Meanwhile, where I normally live on Vancouver Island, every day RCMP officers were abusing and arresting the peaceful Forest Defenders at Fairy Creek - a sacred area of Ancient Old Growth forests currently being clear cut by a single corporation.
I’m terrified for the future, unbelievably angry that the government continues to ignore our pleas to stop prioritizing corporate greed over people’s lives and livelihoods. ESPECIALLY Indigenous lives and livelihoods. I really truly hope that if anything could come out of this summer’s wildfire destruction it's knowing that as settlers, we all live on stolen land and it’s our responsibility to try and fight for its protection.
Q: What are you listening to these days?
A: Always a mix of everything but I’m currently lingering on two ends of the spectrum haha. Lately I’ve been splitting my time between lots of Sabbath/Motorhead and a bunch of contemporary stoner rock while also staying comfy with the Eagles, some earlier Dead stuff and bluesy Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac :-)
Q: Are there any charities/causes you feel strongly about and want us to make a donation to?
A: Yes! As I mentioned before, a large portion of BC’s last Ancient Forests are under attack and there has been a massive, Indigenous led blockade in place for months at the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island. There have been over a thousand arrests at this point and a disgusting amount of police brutality - mostly affecting Indigenous and POC land defenders. Any donation to those on the frontlines helps out with food/supplies and much needed assistance with legal fees that will help keep this fight alive.