Josh Ford interview about his experience in the tattoo industry
Josh used to be a bit of a knuckle head when he was a kid, never really fit into following rules and trying his best to piss off anyone that wasn’t like him. Here is an interview I did for Acclaim magazine.
Josh thought tattooing was for tough guys and rebels, which is what initially drew him in when he was a teenager. Ironically, getting into tattooing helped him to grow up and become a better person.
More about Josh.
NOW YOU’VE BEEN WORKING FOR A WHILE, WHAT ARE THE NEW BOUNDARIES YOU WANT TO REACH?
I don’t know about being accomplished… I feel like I get better every year, I think that’s really what I strive for. I look at guys like Grime, Horiyoshi III, Filip Leu, Adam Ciferri… more than I could list. I see those guys as accomplished, I see them as major contributors artistically to our art. I’m just constantly trying to get better, cleaner tattooing and furthering my art. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel accomplished, but I’m okay with that. I think it’s just fuel to push ahead. Right now, I’m really focusing a lot on my machine building as well. That has been going well, and I’m extremely grateful for all who have supported me in that endeavor.
WITH MORE AND MORE TATTOO ARTISTS EXHIBITED IN TRADITIONAL ART SPACES, DO YOU THINK THAT TATTOO TENDS TO BECOME ACCEPTED AS AN ENTIRE ART FORM BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC?
I definitely think it’s more accepted, that’s for sure. You see it in commercial ads, on sports players, actors. Lot’s of tattooers are also making successful crossovers into other artistic mediums, I think that’s amazing. It’s nice to not be immediately looked at as a scumbag these days, I can appreciate that.
ON ANOTHER HAND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE VERY COMMERCIAL STATUS OF TATTOO THOSE DAYS?
When I first got into tattooing 12 years ago, I NEVER would have imagined it going to where it is today. It’s unreal how much change has gone on in that time, unreal. I personally am not real hip on the whole commercialization of tattooing. It has it’s bonuses, like making more people accept it as art and less ridicule. At the same time, it has it’s downside. It’s making the art I love more of a business, that bums me out a little. I guess there always has to be a balance though. I think it’s cool that some tattooers are getting a chance to really make a comfortable living for themselves. I know that when I started tattooing, I didn’t really ever think about providing for a family, but I do. I’m a little concerned about the future of tattooing. There’s always the fear of government stepping in too much or oversaturation of tattooers (which is pretty much already the case). Tattooing is on a big climb right now, and it’s scary to know what that might lead to, good or bad.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU DON’T WORK ON YOUR ART?
I’ve got my beautiful wife and two wonderful children, that’s always a good part of my life. Other than that, when not tattooing I’m either teaching and training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or I’m working on my tattoo machine company “Honorable Irons”.
ANY FUNNY TATTOO STORY TO FINISH?
Funny tattoo stories? I’ve got a ton of those. Here’s one of my favorites and pretty simple. I was tattooing in Arkansas for a year, and I had a guy come in to get his name tattooed on his arm. He was the stereotypical redneck hillbilly, straight out of the country. So, I get done tattooing him, and about 10 minutes later I get a call from the guy all pissed off. He says “Hey man, you did my tattoo back-ards (that’s hillbilly for backwards)”. So I say, “what do you mean it’s backwards?” He says “I’m looking at it right now and it’s f*****n backards!” I say “You’re looking at it right now? Are you looking in a mirror?” Then there’s a pause for a few seconds and he quickly says “sorry” and hangs up. That’s always been a pretty entertaining story.