Joe Friedman


How long have you been tattooing and how did you start your tattooing journey?

I have been tattooing for 10 years. I got in to tattooing kind of by accident. I was workin as a free lance illustrator doing odd jobs, and met a tattooer at a party. He and I shared out extracurricular artwork with each other. He told me my paintings would make great tattoos and he invited me to hang out at his shop. Through his shop I met someone who wanted to apprentice me, and I fell into it.


Do you remember what was the first tattoo you did? If so, tell us what it was and for who.

My first tattoo was on one of my closest friends, and it was a little sketch from one of Bjork’s album illustrations. It was very small and took me nearly 3 hours to complete.


Please, tell us about your current tattoo style and how it has changed over the years.

My current style is neotraditional, and I think over the years I have just tried to include as much consideration as possible for the incorporation of as many classical art techniques I can use. I try to pay a lot of attention to my values, composition, color harmonies, and other variables that help me make the strongest design.


Does anyone or anything inspire you?

I am inspired the most by nature.  I think most things that are created by nature are inherently beautiful and amazing in their intricacies. 


Are there any tattoo artists who are extremely admirable to you? If so who?

I am inspired every day by Brandon Schultheis, Emily Paul, and Marvin Silva. They are the people are work with at Blacksails Studio, and every day I’m amazed by their collective talent. It’s very humbling to work in a room with killers like them.


Do you have any memorable tattoo story or a customer that has stuck with you through all the time you have been tattooing?

One time as an apprentice, I had a very large woman come in and have me tattoo the words “This is Bugga Man Al’s Ass” across her buttcheeks. I still laugh about it over a decade later.


Is there any art form that fascinates you also except tattooing? Maybe do you have any other passion or something that you really enjoy doing? 

I think any form of creation is fascinating art. You can make masterful oil painting or you can make dinner, but both can display a technical prowess that takes hard work and time to develop. I think any practice done long enough becomes an amazing skill. I do lots of things outside of tattooing in a creative capacity, like painting, writing music, writing prose, cooking, playing chess, and dreaming up wild ideas.


Do you like visiting or exhibiting at tattoo conventions? Would you recommend any of them?

I do like to do conventions, especially when they are in a place I’d like to visit. My favorite one is The Evian Tattoo Convention in October in Evian, France.


Any artist you planning to get tattooed by? Who has tattooed you already?

I’d love to get tattooed by Glendale Bully, Michael Kelly, and Dave Tevenal. I’ve been tattooed by many amazing artists, most recently by Sam Fiorino. 


What are your plans and dreams? If you think about yourself in 10 years, what do you see?

My dream is a reality. I feel very lucky to get to do what I do, and I hope to touch as many lives positively as possible. In 10 years I hope to build on my body of work, and to enhance my skill set.  I’d love to create some paintings in a series that feels like “my life’s work” to leave something beautiful in the world after I’m gone.


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