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Interview with Badass Tattooer Dylan Jonze

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Dylan Jonze is a tattooer working out of Kyle, Texas who has been improving his craft a lot lately in the black and grey realism genre.  He does really solid  work, and it’s been cool watching him get better and better as an artist.  I got the chance to ask him some questions below in an interview.  Enjoy the read!

So I know you’ve been working at a really nice shop Faces in the Dark for a while now… what’s it like working next to guys like Tye Harris and Mike Flores? How have the guys at your shop impacted you as a tattooer?

Man, so far the experience has been beyond words.  Everyone at the shop was very welcoming and supportive and I owe a majority of my growth as an artist to this shop.  The bar was set extremely high from the get go and I approached it in an almost sink or swim fashion with myself in order to acclimate to the new standards I was around.  It’s very inspiring working alongside an idol and other artists that I look up to in the industry and thats been my fuel lately.

Artists that you must respect in this industry?  Anyone you really want to collaborate with or collect a tattoo from yourself?

I came from an American Traditional background within tattooing so I have a broad respect for tattooers that lingers outside of just black and grey.  Obviously the greats, Ed Hardy, Jack Rudy, Paul Booth and Greg Irons. Specifically with this generation I’d have to go with Nikko Hurtado, Tye, and Josh Duffy, although theres so many more.  I’d love to collaborate with some sort of Neotraditional artist….  Hopefully in the very near future!  As for collecting goes; there are just so many artists I would love to have work from.  I’m getting tattooed by Jesse Levitt in the next few months and I am stoked!

What is your art background? How long have you been tattooing?  Can you see yourself ever doing anything else?

I have somewhat of an art background I guess.  I mean I always was an artist and would definitely say that was my thing throughout growing up.  I even pursued a degree in painting right after high school but dropped out of university to do my apprenticeship in tattooing.  I have been professionally tattooing for just over 4 years not counting the time I was apprenticing, which honestly was a little too brief.  I love tattooing with all I have but I do have plans on trying to teach later on in life, however I don’t think I will ever completely quit tattooing,  I just don’t want to have all of my eggs in one basket.

Toughest lesson you’ve learned as an artist?  Do you wish you learned it through watching someone else’s mistake or are you glad you experienced it first hand?

For me personally the toughest mistake was always saying yes.  Once I learned that magic word no, I feel like my tattooing became more refined, I was able to work on projects that suited me, my clientele became a little more in tune, and I felt less stress from tackling projects that were better off being taken on by someone else.  It was difficult maybe due to my ego being in the way or just the fact that it takes confidence to not say yes to whatever is put in front of me.  I wouldn’t have it any other way though because I feel like the time it took allowed me to have a broader understanding and prepare me for whatever is thrown my way.

What do you think about while you tattoo?

Thats a tough question.  I think about all sorts of things I guess!  It really just depends on whats happening in the shop or what I’m working on. 

Best part of being a tattooer? Most challenging part?

To me the best part of being a tattooer is giving the client a tattoo that they are happy to have and at the same time me being stoked on something I did for them.  The most challenging part, strangely enough, is the amount of freedom.  Maybe its because I am a more structured person, but it took me awhile to really balance the freedom tattooing warrants with the structure I need to remain in the right direction.  Even now I think I may work too much and thats just part of learning what kind of balance is needed.

Thoughts on conventions?

I don’t really have a lot to say at this moment since I’m just beginning to do them, but I plan on taking on as many shows as I can at the end of this year and next!

Funniest social media trend in the tattoo world over the last few years?

Probably the last couple of years when rappers started getting absurd face tattoos.  Not going to lie, I have done a few haha.

 

Shifts you hope or predict to see in this industry?

Something I wish would happen would be for different types of tattooing to come together and there be less of a condescending viewpoint on styles that are different than what you are familiar with.  I say this because coming from a traditional background and now focusing on realism, there is still some unity that needs to be done within the community itself regarding tattoo sub cultures.

What three things have you kept in mind that were most beneficial to your development and improvement as a tattooer?

I would have to say, ALWAYS keep learning, know that you are never the best, there’s always someone out there doing what you do better so getting comfortable is not an option, and to also never be too hard on yourself.

Where are you hoping to travel in the near future? Describe your best travel experience so far.

I have just recently started traveling with tattooing and its been exciting so far.  I have a few trips to New York and California coming up but mostly I’m looking forwards to this little Europe tour I’m doing at the beginning of the summer.

 

What do the words “Lead The Followers” mean to you?

To me those words mean to always set a positive example for the people that are looking up to you.  It’s important to carry yourself in a genuine way because people are always watching and you want to make the greatest impact on other’s lives that you can.

Thanks for your time Dylan!  Be sure you check out more of his great work @dylan_jonze

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