Artists: Josh Herman
What year did you start tattooing?
How did you get into tattooing?
Art class was probably the only class I went to in high school. It was the only thing that really kept my interest. I was getting tattooed pretty regularly coming out of high school, and having never thought I could make a living selling art, I figured I would just start a career in the trades. I was an HVAC tech for four years, and then did plumbing for another four. After getting laid off I decided to get another tattoo with my last paycheck. I noticed that my regular tattooer, Oscar Bustos, didn’t have his apprentice around anymore. I told him I had just recently been laid off and asked if I could apprentice. The rest is history.
What was your first shop experience like?
It was rough at times, but all-in-all it was a great learning experience for me. I was basically re-taught how to draw. I was out of practice for almost 10 years. I tried to soak up as much information as possible, and eventually started to develop a style. It was mainly a black and grey shop, and it was hard to sell new school to the clientele there. Eventually I had to move onto another shop to help further my style and career.
How do you describe your style?
New School! I absolutely love the illustrative side of it. The beginning of my career I learned the basic rules of how to make a good image, now at this point in my career it’s about learning how to break them and redefine the rules for my personal artistic direction. For me it’s about pure imagination. I love the big bold lines and the bright colors that come along with it. Being able to see a tattoo from far away and having those bold colors catch your eye is what I work for in every piece I do. I want people to say “WOW!” from 30 feet away from my tattoos.
What inspires you as an artist?
My peers are a big inspiration to me. Seeing all the amazing tattoos that these guys/gals in the game are doing really keeps me on my toes, that, and cartoons! I watch a lot of cartoons, and I pull inspiration from almost everything I watch. Half the time I’m not watching the plot, but how backgrounds are drawn, or the way animals are represented in them.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think what sets me apart from other artists is the specific style of drawing I do. I’ve spent my whole career trying to develop a style. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I feel like I’m getting there. I’ve always wanted people to look at my tattoos and say; “You got that from Josh Herman, didn’t you?”
What other media do you work in?
I do a lot of colored pencil drawings to try and broaden my color palette. I know I need to start using other mediums, painting is something I’d like to learn, and I’ve been dabbling in it here and there to help my color theory. But I feel like there’s just so much to learn in tattooing. It’s my main source of income, so I like to give it my full attention.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Jime Litwalk and Tony Ciavarro have been a huge influence to me ever since I started. I used to draw their flash day after day until my hands bled. Others include Kelly Doty, Timmy B, Tanane Whitfield, Robert Kane, Frank Lanatra, and Sam Fiorino just to name a few. A lot of these guys broke the boundaries of what New School used to be, I really admire them for that and they paved the way for guys like me.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Anything New School, the more exaggerated the subject matter is, the better. I love doing goofy tattoos, the ones that make people chuckle. I especially love the pieces that my clients let me run with. I try my best to sneak in puns here and there in my tattoos. If I’m giggling while I’m drawing it, I know it’s going to be a fun tattoo. From time to time I’ll get to do some realism as well, and I get especially excited to do those. Stepping out of my comfort zone really pushes me. I wish I got more requests for color realism.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
A Shrimp Pimp collecting his money from a sexy whale prostitute would be Gucci.