Saturday, February 25, 2012

Featured Tattoo Artist | John DeWeese

Name: John DeWeese

Age: 23

Location: As of this moment Indianapolis, Indiana but I will be relocating to San Francisco, California with the next few months.

What attracted you to tattooing?

 I have always been around tattoos. My dad and uncles have had tattoos since before I was born so I kind of grew up seeing them. When I was about 5 or so I got a hold of one of my dads tattoo magazines and it was pretty much all down hill from there, haha.  

How did you get into the industry? 

Through my mentor Joshua Carlton, with a little bit of help from my dad when I was about 17. At the time I was living in Shelbyville Indiana which is more or less in the middle of nowhere. I was working a pretty bunk body jewelry store when a friend told me he had heard that Joshua Carlton (who I had been following from some of his magazine articles for a few years) was opening a shop a couple blocks away. One day I stopped into his shop to see if it really was him that was opening the shop-- sure enough, it was. A few days later I went in with my dad and made appointments for my dad and I to get tattooed. I got a pretty decent sized tattoo on my upper arm that was going to take multiple sessions. When we finished the first session, Joshua was pretty much like, "I know you're pretty young and you don't have any money so just give me what you have for today and we'll call it even". 

My dad stepped in right then and was like "Um, no. You're not going to give him a basically free tattoo for nothing-- he'll come in and clean the floors to pay off the rest of the tattoo". I quit my crappy body jewelry store job the next day, went into Joshua's shop and started doing grunt work like laying floor tiles, answering the phone, and cleaning the shop. I got tattooed by Joshua 2 more times in a matter of a week. We became friends pretty fast once he saw I was pretty serious about wanting to tattoo. After a few months of cleaning the shop and doing piercings he asked me if I was ready to start my apprenticeship to tattoo. I jumped at the chance and worked my ass off for it.  

Was it hard to find an apprenticeship?

 I guess for me it was a little easier to get an apprenticeship than other people, but I definitely had to show that I was dedicated to what I was doing. I even went as far as to quit high school just to be at the shop full time. My mom wasn't exactly thrilled with that decision but I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by. I scrubbed tubes, cleaned the entire shop, set up and broke down for all the artists, and did what I was told. Eyes open, mouth shut, and took in any piece of information I could.

How many years have you been tattooing? 

As of March 2012 I will be tattooing full time, out of my apprenticeship, for 5 years.  

What inspires you? 

So much inspires me. Specifically visually stimulating films (especially horror films from before the 1990s), photography, skateboarding, probably anything that could be described as "spooky" whether it be music, art, films, literature. I have always had a real interest in anything scary or unnerving; a good ghost story might be one of my absolute favorite things.

Who are your favourite tattoo artists? 

Their are so many people that I think do incredible tattoos. If I had to give a short list it would probably be Don Ed Hardy, Grime (probably the best working tattoo artist in the world), Uncle Allan, Chad Koeplinger, Chriss Dettmer, Adam Barton, Jeff Zuck. Of course that's not everyone but I'm going to end it there.  

How would you describe your tattoo style? 

I really like doing tattoos that are rooted in traditional tattoos. Bold clean lines, a lot of black, and solid color. As far as subject matter, you can never go wrong with pretty girls, skulls, animals, etc. Lately I have been trying to incorporate my influences from horror movies and folklore into my tattoos. Really, though, I just like doing whatever someone brings into me as long as I feel like I can make it a nice solid tattoo that will withstand the test of time. I love doing lettering and black and gray as well.  

What have you learned in your years in the industry? 

I've learn that I have a LOT to learn. And hopefully I'll never stop learning because when I do will be when I stop tattooing.

What advice do you have to people considering careers in tattooing? 

 If I am going to say anything to anyone thinking about tattooing is that it will literally consume your entire life. I have lost friends, completely given up a social life, lost countless hours of sleep, and made plenty of sacrifices in the name of tattooing. If you're not willing to completely dedicate yourself to tattooing and realize that it will consume your life then its probably not for you. 

What are some of the best things you have experienced as a result of your career? 
The opportunity to be able to do what I love everyday, meet the people I have, go to the places I have gone, and experience life through tattooing is one of the most amazing things that I could ever ask for. I probably couldn't pinpoint only a couple of experiences but a can say I'm extremely grateful to be in the position I am in. 

Where do you currently tattoo? 

As of the moment I am doing an extended guest spot at Irish Ink on Massachusetts Ave in downtown Indianapolis. I'm working here until my wife and I move to San Francisco at the beginning of the summer. In San Francisco I will be working at a shop called Tattoo Boogaloo.

Anyone interested can check out - and for all of my travel plans.