Artists: Josh Hagan
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2008 at Sacred Art Tattoo in Tucson, Arizona.
How did you get into tattooing?
I went to prison for a while when I was young and started drawing to pass the time. Eventually me and my cellmate, and best homie to this day, learned to tattoo and started tattooing when we were 19.
What was your first experience working at a tattoo shop like?
I went into a shop looking for an apprenticeship and the owner said to me, “I will apprentice you because you already dress like a tattooer,” and was super serious. Total douche bag. I was really excited at the time but I didn’t realize how shallow he made tattooing out to be. He taught me how to put a stencil on a client correctly, he taught me how to talk to clients, and a week later he said, “Good luck,” and made me a full-time tattooer. At the time I was pumped to be a professional tattooer but it wasn’t ’til months later that I realized that I’d screwed up a lot of tattoos and almost wanted to give up. But then I went down to Sacred Art Tattoo and Johnny Jinx and Lenny Mental taught me how to tattoo correctly. Thank God for them.
Do you have any special training?
I’m pretty self-taught. Seven years of nothing but drawing was enough.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
I have pretty much done any expo in the U.S. that you can think of. I’ve got a lot more planned for this year, but it’s hard to be specific. One of my favorites of the year is Asbury Park, New Jersey.
What led you to work primarily in color?
I just felt like working with the complexity of contrast, complementing colors, and making the piece look serious and not like a cartoon.
When do you find yourself working in black-and-grey?
When it’s what the client wants. But it also gives me an opportunity to work on my tones.
Do you find one style more difficult than the other?
Yes—color realism because of the complexity and making it stick.
What are some of the major subject matters you like to tattoo?
I like tattooing women, skulls, dark imagery, gore, and frightening imagery.
What inspires you as an artist?
My mother was a painter so I grew up in an artistic environment.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I plead the fifth.
What other mediums do you work in?
I work with oil painting and charcoal. I don’t do them often because I barely ever have time.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I’m in the process of creating my own supply company: machines, tubes, etc. All high-quality stuff made by artists for artists.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Nikko Hurtado, Boris, and Robert Hernandez.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I have been experimenting with a color realism style. I’m taking color realism and adding unrealistic light sources and ribbony doohickeys.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Come with your money right.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
A tribal bodysuit.