Artists: Joao Bosco
The Family Business Tattoo
58 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QE,
+44 (0)20 7278 9526
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2004.
How did you get into tattooing?
Since I was a little child, I have always been drawing. As a teenager, I got into bands and the heavy metal scene of my hometown. So all my friends wanted tattoos to look cool and badass, and they didn’t have any money for that, so they thought, “Hang on a minute—Joao can draw, he can tattoo us!”
What was your first shop experience like?
My early years weren’t really great, as I didn’t have any apprenticeship or anybody to show me the way. So it was full of ups and downs, until I started to be able to channel what I wanted to deliver through my work.
What brought you to work at The Family Business Tattoo?
Three years ago I was looking for a shop where I could work. At the same time they were searching for somebody. I got along with Mo [Coppoletta] straightaway, so I decided to stay.
Do you have any special training?
No special training. I learned from practicing and drawing for endless hours, talking to friends, and getting tattooed by my tattoo heroes.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
I have done Moscow (which is becoming a kind of base of mine, as I’m crazy for Russia), Kiev, Krakow, and London. Next year I’ll do Brighton, Paris, London, and obviously Moscow.
How do you describe your style?
I describe my style as fantasy, only because I can find no name for what I do. I feel like I’m still searching for a style, which I shall find one day.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything around me: comic art, Western and Eastern tattoos, Soviet propaganda, religion, music, Asian art, photography, and so on.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think that I try to get influence from everything when it comes to styles in the tattoo world. I like the power of Japanese, the strength of American traditional, the softness and contrast of realism, and the solidness of tribal and blackwork. I try to bring all of those different strengths to my tattoos. And I think that if you look at them carefully, you might be able to see that all of that is in there.
What other mediums do you work in?
I have done a bit of canvas, but I always have a problem finding time for it. I love Arches pads; they are really cool to work with.
What is the tattoo scene like in London?
The tattoo scene in London is great, and it’s getting better and better every year. But I still believe that the tattooists here could push the level of the artwork further and further. They should go where eagles dare and be excited about it. American traditional style is like a tattoo religion in the U.K., and some people hesitate to deliver anything other than that to their customers. That’s why, in the U.K., you always have the feeling that you are watching a comedy stand-up show of a new comedian who just came to town—but you know all the jokes already. So then you end up being the only one in the audience who isn’t laughing.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
There are so many. It’s really hard to name one. But I shall say that Mauricio Teodoro is one of the top masters for me.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I would like to do a full bodysuit one day. Like, start on a brand-new clean customer, a first-timer, and go for the whole suit. That would be super exciting.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Don’t go crazy on partying the night before your session, especially if it’s a big piece. And have a big champion breakfast before it.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Yes—I would like to tattoo more gods and demons from Asian mythology and religions. They are fascinating subjects.
What has been one of your favorite pieces to tattoo?
I really like a grim reaper I did quite a while ago on a customer’s rib cage. I like the contrast of that tattoo. I also like the recent back pieces I have done. I think I’m getting quite close to what I want to be and deliver to customers. All I want is my tattoos looking strong and mighty still in 20 years’ time. That’s all I want.