NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A local art teacher turned her passion into a second career. Many of her students at Niskayuna High School are unaware of the second job she goes to after school.
Ms. Jane Romm is no ordinary art teacher. In a school year like no other, she’s managed to keep her students engaged even through the computer screen.
“I love working with high school students, but I felt like there was an element that was missing,” Romm explained.
“I don’t tell the kids often, there can be a stigma with people with tattoos. That’s something I am trying to change. It’s a beautiful thing to show an art form, something that is personal to you on the outside.”
Luckily for Romm, she’s spent years learning about and practicing another passion project. After classes, Jane heads to her other job.
“If you would have told me that I would have gotten into tattooing five years ago I would have said you’re crazy.”
Mrs. Romm the art teacher is Jane the artist by night.
“It’s a hard world to break into,” she recalled.
Romm’s specialty happens to be hand-poked tattoos.
“You essentially start with dots as a constellation and then you slowly build up a line,” Romm explained.
No machines, just piercing precision with Romm’s steady hands. Though, for a while, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to put ink to skin.
“Even though I knew how to do it, it’s scary to take that leap,” she said. “I had made the decision I wasn’t going to do it.”
That changed at the end of 2018 when Jane’s father was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her dad died just a month later.
“My dad passed away and I realized how passionate I was about it,” she recollected.
Her grief leading to clarity, and you could say eventually she was ready to sign on the dotted line.
“The first tattoo I ever did was actually my father’s signature,” she said as she showed us the tattoo. “I just felt like I needed to do something to know that I wouldn’t forget.”
Her father’s memory now permanent.
“It’s a way of putting these feelings somewhere,” she added.
Jane has helped etch those feelings onto her clients, like Steve Burnick.
“I have four tattoos that have been done by her so far,” he said.
Her last sharp concentration on the design at hand, but it’s the stories that bring each person to her chair that she’s tuned in to.
Burnick explained, “I have a Victorian hand holding a lily. A lily is my ex’s favorite flower, my ex-wife.”
“It’s a very personal thing to ask someone to do this on you. Usually, people will tell me the story behind their tattoo and why they want to get it, which sometimes, it can be very intimate,” Jane said.
It’s a form of expression even some of her school colleagues have expressed interest in.
“I’ve actually tattooed some of them,” she said. “That’s one of my favorite parts of being able to take something they’ve been thinking about more as an abstract idea and create it for them visually.”
Though, in class, it’s a little-known fact that Ms. Romm is also Jane the tattoo artist.
“I don’t tell the kids often, there can be a stigma with people with tattoos. That’s something I am trying to change. It’s a beautiful thing to show an art form, something that is personal to you on the outside,” Jane told us.
A pointed lesson in self-expression from an art teacher showing those around her, not to paint the people you see with a broad brush.