Tattoo Art: What if Vincent van Gogh Became a Tattoo Artist?

[slider][pane]

Tattoo Art in Lodi

Emerald Tattoo opened in 2008. The city of Lodi, CA has welcomed them into their community and owner Josh “Red” Hughes enjoys a steady flow of clients daily.

[/pane]

[pane]

Tattoo Art in Lodi

Josh “Red” Hughes owner of Emerald Tattoo outside his shop.

[/pane]
[pane]

Tattoo Art with Jim

Jim, 42, has been tattooing for 17 years. He’s found his new home at Emerald Tattoo in Lodi, CA.

[/pane]
[pane]

Tattoo gun for creating tattoo art

A tattoo gun on Jim’s station. These machines make ink into art.

[/pane]

[pane]

Transforming ink into tattoo art

Ink and tattoo supplies: The tools of the trade.

[/pane]

[pane]

Tattoo Art

Jim tattoos a customer as he answers questions about art and tattoos.

[/pane]

[pane]

Tattoo Art

Jim Fox applies ink to a client in his station at Emerald Tattoo in Lodi, CA.

[/pane]

[pane]

Tattoo Art

A day in the life of a tattoo artist.

[/pane]
[pane]

Tattoo Art

Jim talks with his client making sure she is handling the pain ok.

[/pane][/slider]

What if Vincent van Gogh Created Tattoo Art Instead?

Maybe he wouldn’t have cut off his ear, and instead, he could’ve inked out The Starry Night across someone’s back. Maybe Vincent wouldn’t have been a good tattoo artist anyway. His impressionistic tattoo art style might’ve been too chaotic for a tattoo shop to contend with. But nonetheless, it seems that many people are beginning to realize that there’s a definite intersection between traditional artwork and tattoo art.

With the increase in popularity of shows like L.A. Ink, and Ink Master, and even Tattoo Nightmares chronicling the good, bad, and the ugly of getting inked, people are realizing that getting a tattoo is a serious commitment, not just for the people getting them, but the people who devote their lives to putting their art on the bodies of strangers.

I went to a local tattoo shop to find out what tattoo artists had to say about their creative process, and here’s what I found out.

[divider]

Emerald Tattoo: The Art is Up Front

Tattoo art is not something to take lightly, and one shop in Lodi, CA has proven its commitment to the craft of body art by continuing to raise the bar for its resident artists. Emerald Tattoo has been leaving its mark on the community and its citizens since 2008, focusing on custom only tattoo art.

“Every tattoo is hand drawn,” said owner, Josh “Red” Hughes, who I spoke with outside of his shop on 2525 Hutchins St. in Lodi. In fact, one of the most telling examples of their level of commitment to custom tattoo art is the fact that you will not find the usual Flash tattoo galleries in their lobby typical of most tattoo shops. Instead, Red chooses to display the artwork many of his tattoo artists create for his clients to see.

On the walls in the lobby, you’ll notice original oil paintings with vibrant colors and unique designs. Red said he wanted to focus on the art his tattoo artists create. “We only have a few framed Flash pieces tucked away in the hallway, and those were actually donated to us.” The first impression you get when you walk into the shop is that you’re amongst artists, people who are creative and have backgrounds in art.

[Video] Emerald Tattoo Video-via YouTube

A Commitment to Skin: “Do it right or don’t do it at all”

[divider]

The focus on art was a common thread among the tattoo artists I spoke with. I sat down with one of Emerald Tattoo’s artists, Jim Fox, to get his take on tattoo art and how he came into the business, how to avoid making a bad decision when choosing a tattoo, and his philosophy on tattooing.

What are some common mistakes people make when choosing a tattoo?

Jim: “Listening to their friends’ advice. Get what you want, not what your buddy wants. Research your artist, your image. Sometimes there’s not a lot of forethought. People like the idea of getting a tattoo, but don’t think about what they really want to see from it. This is a marriage that’s pretty hard to get out of.”

How long have you been tattooing, and what was it that inspired you to become a tattoo artist?

Jim: “17 years. I got into it on accident. I was in Hollywood at a tattoo shop on Sunset Strip, and a girlfriend wanted to get a tattoo, but they told her we would have to come back another time, or draw something up. I knew how to draw, so I drew one up in about an hour. I always liked drawing. It got me back into it. Later, I learned how to build needles and work with machines.”

Do you use pencils to draw up your ideas?

Jim: “Yeah, I use pencils, Sharpies, and even do watercolors, which is something I learned how to do about a year ago.”

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist?

Jim: “I was laying floors before I started doing this, and it was wearing on my body. I was just really inspired to draw, and that artist fire was lit inside me. It was happenstance, really, a happy accident.”

Do you like to do freehand, or do you prefer to draw something up on the spot for your clients to choose from?

Jim: “I like to draw ahead sometimes, but things like Japanese style artwork or pieces with a lot of background need to be drawn on because that’s the only way you can get it to fit on the body.”

What are the styles of tattoo art you most enjoy?

Jim: “I like the classic Sailor Jerry style stuff and Japanese style.  I like artists like Scott Sylvia out of San Francisco at BlackHeart Tattoo, Uncle Allen out of Amsterdam. I like thin lines and a refined look.”

What was the apprenticeship process like for you? 

Jim: “It was a year and a half, and it was like skywriting at night. American Graffiti was the first shop I worked at.”

 What’s your tattooing philosophy?

Jim: “Do it right or don’t do it at all. It’s a huge responsibility. People are trusting you with their image of themselves. Some people go in for a price instead of a piece of art.”

This should give you a couple things to keep in mind. Research your artist, don’t be afraid to invest a little more money for a stand out tattoo, and choose tattoo artists who take their craft seriously. In art and tattoos, you can bet it’s going to leave a mark, so make sure the work you get leaves the right impression.

 

 

 

 

3 replies
  1. auramac
    auramac says:

    I personally do not “get” tattoos. In fact, I find them repulsive, as most are in their own right. But ink on skin is for me a painful, horrific violation of the beauty of the human body. It is literally painful to look at- whether a Van Goght, an R. Crumb, or a “cute little butterfly.” Thumbs up for the meaningful defiance of a cancer survivor, but that’s why we have hats and t-shirts. No, I can’t look. It’s getting to the point that an unmarked body is 1000 times the turn on a tatted one is- almost a rarity, like a precious jewel. God’s art.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *