During an interview for Inked magazine, you learn to expect the unexpected. Sometimes you’ll be interviewing someone in the middle of a huge tattoo and other times the interviewee will be soaping up in the tub or downing next-level takeout. But when travel and adventure influencer Jay Alvarerez took our call moments before jumping out of a plane in Oahu, Hawaii? It was new to us.
“I skydived probably 1,200 times,” Alvarrez says. “After a while, it doesn’t seem dangerous if you understand it. Driving a car is probably more dangerous than skydiving. Like anything else, you adapt to it and understand the dynamics. Every time I do it, it gets more fun.
Alvarrez has been charting his own path since he was 12 years old. When her mother was going through cancer treatments, she started homeschooling her and soon after, she passed away. After his death, Alvarrez’s future was in his hands. “I homeschooled for a while and ended up doing what I wanted,” Alvarrez says. “I can’t believe it actually worked out that way, but it did.”
Alvarrez didn’t grow up on money, so there was nothing to fall back on. Even without the comfort of a safety net, he was confident enough to never worry about what the long-term future held for him. “I got really interested in photography and videography from an early age,” says Alvarrez. “That kind of stuff evolved into the career I have now, and to be honest, I don’t even know what I was working towards. I always had the idea that I was going to be able to take care of myself and do something good with my time.
Over time, as Alvarrez took photos and videos while participating in his favorite extreme sports, he began to build a following online. Just living his best life in Hawaii would soon end up giving him a career he never sought, or for that matter, never even imagined possible. “When I found out I could make a career out of having fun, I went all out,” says Alvarrez. “And once I understood the dynamics of how the numbers moved and how I could interact with other people’s money, I was able to build greater potential for myself.”
People like to throw social media influencers into a big group when in reality, no two influencers are the same. Everyone has their own niche and their own way of running their business and as such there is no set path to becoming a successful influencer. It takes a combination of ingenuity, hard work and luck. Alvarrez is rightly very proud of the turmoil it took to get where he is, but also aware of how lucky he is.
“I think I was just in the right place, at the right time, doing something new,” Alvarrez says. “If someone tried to come and do what I did now, it probably wouldn’t have the same impact on the community. I’m really grateful for the delay and how it happened because it was natural and organic.
These days, Alvarrez spends half the year in Hawaii and half the year abroad in some of the most exotic and exciting locations known to planet Earth. His travels began with a two-month surfing trip to French Polynesia and since then he has filled his passport with stamps from at least 50 countries, with plans to visit many more. Then the pandemic threw a wrench into Alvarrez’s busy schedule. But a minor inconvenience like a global pandemic couldn’t dampen her wanderlust. Where there is a will there is a way, as they say, so Alvarrez found a way to sneak into Russia.
“I was trying to go there to see someone and like everywhere else, they sealed off the whole country,” he explains. “I found a way through this group of people to get me through Belarus, then we drove about 12 hours through forests and back roads to Moscow. It was crazy.
Alvarrez has done just about everything on his trips abroad, from BASE jumping in Norway to riding giant squids in Bora Bora. Yet, as adventurous as he may be, he still hasn’t gotten a tattoo outside of the United States. “All of my tattoos were done by my close friend, Konstantin Noskos,” says Alvarrez. “I refuse to go get tattooed by different artists because he’s so good at what he does. His line work is so solid and he has become one of my best friends. There are so many badly done tattoo jobs and I don’t want to risk going to another artist.
Alvarrez’s bond with his tattoo artist is rock solid. They are so close, in fact, that their friendship goes beyond a one-way exchange of ink. “My tattoo artist taught me how to tattoo and I’ve probably done about 15 tattoos now,” Alvarrez says. “Most of the tattoos are on my tattoo artist. [Tattooing] is definitely a very respectable job because it’s not easy. The fucking talent he has against me, it flows so easily from him.
Professional tattooing may not yet be in store for Alvarrez, but later, who knows? Alvarrez may not have thought about his future as he built his teenage career in Hawaii, but now he realizes the importance of planning ahead. He won’t stay young forever and when that day comes he will be ready.
“For the past two years, I have taken my finances very seriously and focused on crypto,” Alvarrez says. “I’ve realized that social media is such a random animal. I don’t know if I’ll be working on social media in my mid-30s or 40s, it’s not something I want to do. If I stay on that trajectory, I’ll probably be at the point where I don’t need to work or think about working again.