By Joey Knuckles
Tattooing is all about progression. We learn from our mistakes and we grow every day; we should all approach it with humility and respect for our fellow artists. True tattooers want to continue to grow, and to become the best tattooers, artists, and people that they can be. To do this we must get rid of the negativity. I can tell you from my own personal experiences over the past couple of years that there are already enough things to bring you down.
A little advice: about two years ago, I stopped listening to news/media/political arguments. I also fought off some personal demons, such as drinking, anger, and depression. Not only have my anxiety and stress levels dropped drastically, but also my thought process has been liberated and I’ve been able to focus on what truly matters. Separating yourself from all the negativity and drama in your life, and surrounding yourself with people who support you is so important. The people in my life, including my wife Tori, my ever loyal Philadelphia clientele, my continuously growing Columbus clientele, and my brothers everywhere, are what keep me going and continuing to progress and to further my understanding of the past, present, and future of this craft. I can wake up in the morning, work on some sketches, and just be happy and honored to be part of the tattoo community.
We are the few and the lucky to be “true tattoo artists.” We must understand that we are all folk artists responsible for handing this craft over to the next generation with integrity and intelligence. If we ever want to progress as individuals and as artists, we have to understand fully what builds a true “traditional tattoo.” Not that everyone has to work in a “traditional style,” but everyone should understand and be able to accomplish the fundamental tattooing techniques. We must understand the tools involved in this trade, and resist relying on shortcuts such as tracing other artists’ work, Google images, and using programs like Photoshop to create graphic images that are unrealistic in the tattoo world (never mind Photoshopping tattoo pictures to create colors and vibrancy that do not exist in nature). As the saying goes, “Don’t confuse the menu with the meal.” People in the beginnings of their careers in this industry are learning these days with rotaries right from the start, without taking the necessary 5 to 10 years needed to master working with coil machines, among other aspects of tattooing. It seems everyone is rushing into fame without absorbing the knowledge required to become a “tattoo master.” So let’s take this note from one of our forefathers in tattooing, which has been a personal motto of mine, so that maybe we can all treat each other, and our craft, a little better: “I ‘Joey Knuckles’ am in the business of rendering a service to this community for the small group who choose to have their bodies decorated in some way or another…I choose to pursue my profession with intelligence and skill, wishing not to offend anyone, but instead with my love for mankind do what good I can do before I die…” —Pledge by Stoney St. Clair.
Joey Knuckles has been tattooing since 2003. Beginning his career in Columbus, Ohio most notably at High Street Tattoo, where he honed his tattoo skills in a fast-paced environment under his mentor Giovani. He then moved to Philadelphia in 2008, working in legendary shops like Philadelphia Eddies, Olde City Tattoo, Art Machine Productions, and Black Vulture Gallery, over the past five years. He has now returned to Columbus full-time, after inheriting High Street tattoo from his good friend, mentor, and High Street Tattoo founder Giovani. Joey prides himself on being a well-rounded tattoo artist specializing in anything ranging from cover-ups, custom lettering, floral work, to large-scale illustrative designs.
By Myke Chambers
I was talking with a friend a little while back about the state of tattooing today, comparing it with how things were just 15 or 20 years ago. He made a really good point… A lot of people say, “Yeah tattooing going mainstream sucks but now there are more people getting tattooed so we’re all making a lot more money.”
But he then reminded me that yeah, 15 years ago there weren’t as many people getting tattooed but there also weren’t as many tattooers either, so anyone that wanted a tattoo didn’t have a whole lot of choices. Today there are sometimes a hundred shops in a city or maybe even upwards of 300 in a big city… (more…)
By Myke Chambers
If you’re familiar with 19th century American history then you should know a little about the westward expansion of the Euro-American and the ensuing American Indian wars leading to the near extinction of all Native American culture.
Now I’m not going to go into all the horrific atrocities committed by the Euro-American against the American Indians, all the countless promises broken and massacres of women and children. Please understand I’m in no way saying the mass genocide and all the horrors done to the Native American in the past and in the present in any way compares. That wasn’t the purpose of this at all. I myself am part Cherokee. What is happening with tattooing is obviously nowhere near as horrific as what happened to the native tribes. No, I have another purpose for bringing this bit of history up. You may be asking yourself where the hell is he going with this and what the hell does American history have to do with tattooing… Bear with me, and while you do look for history repeating itself… though not on such a horrific scale… (more…)
Courtesy of Sullen Clothing: A few days ago I did our popular 21 questions with one of the coolest down to earth guys Myke Chambers. Myke is a part of our elite Sullen Art Collective team that consists of some of the best artists. This was a fun interview to do because Myke is so into Sullen and helping out us out. Sullen just launched a new tee design called the Myke Chambers which is his first artist collaboration piece. Myke is a huge fan of Traditional Americana imagery with tons of color and bold lines which is something we are a huge fan of as well, there are so many great black and grey artists, but when someone comes to us with awesome color work we are all over it… [Interview and pictures on expanded page]
By Myke Chambers
Sorry if I sound like a dick, (because I’m really not) but sometimes I’m blown away by how blind people are when it comes to tattoos. I know my tattoos aren’t the best, and they are not perfect, but the crap some people think are good tattoos is insane…