I met Inky Joe for the first time at the Nepal Tattoo Convention 2017. He proved straight away to be an extremely nice and friendly guy. But that was just the begin. During the convention I had a chance to observe him working on a impressive backpiece which he completed over the course of 3 days, on a young British customer. I was really blown away by the end result and the level of his dedication. As you can see see Joe has built an excellent reputation for himself thanks to his beautiful black & grey wildlife realistic tattoos.
However Joe also enjoys geometric, dot-work and blackwork styles which he draws directly onto the skin to give them a unique flow. Joe is also one of the really first World Tattoo Events ProTeam members and he will join us for our first Asian Tour between the end of October and the begin of November.
For the readers which are not familiar with you, can you give us a brief of introduction of yourself? I’m from the UK and although I’m best known for my black and grey wildlife realism, I enjoy working in many styles and am currently working on developing my own ornamental style.
How & when did you start tattooing? I started tattooing in 2002 and I started the wrong way. I bought a load of equipment and told all my friends I was a tattooist and tattooed them for beer money. Luckily my moral compass straightened out in the end.
What’s your definition of art?
For me, art is about creation. To create something from your mind and communicate it to the world.
How would you define your tattoo style? My tattoo style, at the moment, is wildlife realism. I’ve been inspired by nature and obsessed by animals my whole life. I am finding myself less drawn to realism now, and want to create something for myself. Recently I have been developing an organic ornamental style. It was originally hugely inspired by the work of Raph Cemo, but out of respect and originality, I quickly had to develop it in a different direction, to make it my own and not to plagiarize.
What kind of approach do you have with your customers? Customers are really easy when doing realism. You pick a picture that fits. With anything else, it’s nice if they can show you examples of what’s in their mind, but let you run with it. There needs to be trust.
What kind of tattoos or projects do you really enjoy doing at conventions? At conventions, all I want to do is strut my stuff and work to my strengths. I like to get my teeth into a project which I can focus on all day.
Do you think you make better tattoos at the studio or at a tattoo convention? Although I enjoy the pressure of working at a convention, my best work is done at the studio, where I have access to my favourite software, printers/scanners/copiers etc. and don’t need to worry about time constraints. I often tattoo for very long sessions.
Do you remember the first tattoo convention you have been working at? My first convention was Tattoo Freeze near Birmingham. I was so nervous. I put my headphones in, turned my back to the crown and didn’t look up from my tattoo all day.
Is there any particular country or region of the world which you fancy the most when you go to conventions? I really love Asia. The Asian conventions I have worked at have been inspiring and overwhelmingly hospitable..
Did you ever win any contest prize so far? I have only won one contest. I rarely finish anything in time for judging.
What was it and where did you win it? Best large black and grey at the Norwich Tattoo Expo. It was bio organic bugs and honeycomb done over a ribcage over 2 days.
What’s your favorite tattoo convention so far? And why? Every convention I do is my favourite, until the next one. I love doing them. They are all so different.
What’s your number one reason to attend a tattoo convention? Travel. I stayed in one place for too many years and conventions are a great excuse for a workaholic to go see some more of the world.
How many tattoo conventions do you visit every year?
4 or 5 I guess.
What’s your most memorable experience you ever had at a tattoo convention?
I shit my pants while I was tattooing at the Montreaux Tattoo Convention….Swiss beer does not agree with my stomach…
What’s the most annoying side of a tattoo convention? The only thing that’s the same for every convention, is the stress of bringing the equipment. Dismantling your studio and putting it in your rucksack.
What do you think about the contests? Contests are great if you’re into that. I’m not. I never finish work in time to enter and I personally think work should be done at the show, to be entered at the shows comps. I think with all the shows now (plus all the categories and runner up prizes) the novelty of winning is diluted and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
In terms of convention organization what’s for you the most important aspect? I may be biased, but I think the artists need to be the important aspect. Its a tattoo show, not a burlesque show, or a bike show or a concert. Look after the artists, they’re paying a lot to be there, and they’re the reason the show is on at all.
Do you usually prefer to set an appointment before the convention or are you open to work on the spot? I much prefer to book appointments prior to conventions, but foreign conventions come at a price, and it’s hard to get bookings in countries where I don’t have a following.
Who are the people you admire the most in this industry? There are so many people I admire. I’m inspired daily and I never ever forget that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. The innovation in the industry is mind blowing. Artist wise, there are loads who I love and many would be unoriginal to list, but in my eyes, hands down, Tofi. His scope of imagination, use of software, technical abilities and how he shares it all. It’s not a style I would work with, or would fit amongst the work on my body, but he is an absolute genius.
The best in the world.
Closer to home, Joe Carpenter. Not only is he one of my best friends, but he’s my former apprentice, who for obvious reasons I am very proud of. Now I work
for him at his studio, and the student has now become the master.
Then there’s Raph Cemo. Not only is he a super cool, no ego guy, who fixed up my cover up sleeve, but his work switched something in my brain and no one has influenced a change in my style like this. Changing things up revitalised my art and work ethics. I’m very grateful.
Your favorite inks?
Dynamic and Kuro Sumi. I make my own greywash system using these.
Your favorite machines? Inkjecta V2 Flite is my favourite all rounder, though I love the Cheyenne Spirit for soft black and grey. The only coil machine I really use now is an Aaron Cain for big lines on large ornamental pieces.
What after care product would you recommend? Easy. Easy is hands down the best stuff I’ve ever used. I’ve been using and recommending it for over 2 years and not seen a single problem with it.
I'm the founder of World Tattoo Events. After many years of a semi-nomadic life, travelling to tattoo conventions, I'm now settled in Vietnam where I continue to focus on my work and passion: making World Tattoo Events the best possible platform for the Tattoo Conventions industry. I also own the Dragon City Ink tattoo studio in Da Nang.