Josh Johnson is a black and grey realism tattooer working out of Delaware City, Delaware. He has only been tattooing for a few years now but has made incredible progress in that short amount of time, and has been killing it lately. Be on the lookout for him moving forward in the industry and enjoy the interview we got to do with him below.
So your bio says you’ve only been tattooing since April of 2016… You got really good, really quick… What three things have been most beneficial to your growth as an artist?
Yeah man it’s pretty crazy how fast It all happened. In my eyes I have such a long way to go and I feel like I’m just now getting started. But three things that have been most benificial are… first definitely the people I surround myself with. The homies I work with are great friends of mine and we all support each other. Second and weirdly enough the hate I get from other “artists” in my area drives me. I love it. It makes me just grind harder. And third would be inspiration from other artists I look up to. Watching people succeed and KILL dope ass pieces gives me motivation and the drive to become as good as them one day.
I know you guys have to have some stories… What’s been the most bizarre, funniest, or most memorable experience with a client so far?
The most memorable experience is probably when I had a client pass out on me. I’ve always heard about shit like that but I never thought it would happen while I was tattooing. The client was a loyal one of mine I’ve tattooed him plenty of times and he always sits great. But for some reason I was just tattooing, heard a snore and this dude was out like a light. Started shaking and all that. Shit was nuts lol.
Ideal client? Three things you wish all of your clients knew without you having to let them know?
Clients that give me complete trust as an artist are by far my favorite. Three things I guess would be that my work isn’t cheap but they are on you for life so the price is worth the work. Another thing would be that I don’t do color. I still get inquires about color tattoos which makes no sense to me… I wish people would read my bio before asking lol. I have nothing against color tattoos, but the only art that inspires me or that I’m interested in is black and grey realism. And third would be that I do not do small tattoos. I won’t do small letters or walk in pieces. Only large projects.
Artist you would most like to collaborate with? Who do you think was artist of the year?
For artists that I would love to collaborate with would probably be Robby latos or TeeJ Poole. They are huge inspirations to me as an artist. I try my best to gain clients who would be down with me doing morph pieces on the level they both do. And I feel like artist of the year would be Jak Connolly. His designs and execution are always flawless.
Who would you most like to collect a tattoo from?
This is a hard one.. I guess it depends on what type of piece I’m looking for. For a portrait I’d have to go with Ryan Evans. Or for the style I love best and want to form better for myself would be once again Jak Connolly
Toughest lesson you’ve had to learn since being an artist?
My toughest lesson so far would have to be not every day is a great day. Sometimes you get an annoying client who is too picky and gives us too little trust as an artist which in that case I usually won’t tattoo them again. Also, that not everyone’s skin works well.. some days you get a client with shitty skin that’s almost impossible to work with or get a smooth light tone or blend. But maybe that is just my inexperience I’m not sure.
Most difficult part of being a tattooer? Most rewarding?
The most difficult part of tattooing is the long nights. I don’t mind it too much but sometimes it’s super hard to have a good schedule for your day to get things done when your tattooing for 10 hours straight. But as far as rewarding, there are so many things I could say. Besides the great money I would say it’s making people happy… I’m changing peoples bodies and image for the rest of their life so when the tattoo is finished and I see the joy and appreciation on their face it makes it worth it.
I’m sure you make a great living already, but pretend that you had pricing power to charge $30,000 per full day session. How often would you be tattooing?
Shit man that would be insane haha. But I would still tattoo about 3-4 times a week. I usually work anywhere from 3–6 days a week right now so I don’t think it would change much.. I love tattooing. It’s my life. More money wouldn’t change that.
What shifts do you predict/hope to see in the tattoo world over the next couple of years?
I hope I blow the fuck up in this industry. It would be great to say something about the industry in general but I want this shit. I want everyone to win but I’m always honest so to say anything differnt would be a lie.. I wanna win. I wanna be recognized for my talent.
What is the lamest thing you see going on in the social media tattoo world? What’s the dopest thing?
The lamest thing is most of the world known tattoo pages play favorites I feel like. Like they only post certain people’s tattoos and don’t show other people love. I know so many artists that have half the amount of followers that I do and they are pushing out better tattoos then me and they don’t even get love. I feel like these big pages should post no matter whose the artist. If it’s a dope tattoo it deserves to be seen. And the dopest thing is that if u catch a break and do that one stand out piece it could get you worldly recognition. Instagram is my entire business.
I’m sure there are hundreds or thousands of artists who are trying to get to your level in this highly competitive industry… What three pieces of advice do you have for people trying to take their talent to the next level?
First I would say never give up. Don’t let people who talk shit or say you’ll never make it bring you down. Tell every hater to suck your ass from the back and let your work speak for itself. Second always stay aware that you need to learn. Learning should never end. You should always try and find new ways or tricks to do things. And third just have fun. If your blessed with becoming good at this form of art, don’t take it for granted. Live your life how you want and have as much fun as u can. Shit, and fourth, learn how to save money!!! There aren’t any retirement plans or 401k’s in tattooing!!
What do the words “Lead The Followers” mean to you?
I fucking love that quote bro.. it’s a definition of how I live my life. To me it means don’t fall into the bullshit. Stand out from others. Become someone people look up to and respect for who you are not who your trying to be.
Thanks for you time Josh! Check out more of his work @joshjohnson_tattoos