If you’re not into tattoos- that’s ok. Either way, whether you love them or hate them… scroll through this post because you’re going to want to see the work by our next artist! His work looks equally amazing on paper and people. In addition to tattooing, he spends a lot of time painting and drawing on a daily basis. Allow me to introduce the first tattoo artist in our Artist Spotlight series, Andy Johnson of Long Street Collective. Click through to read the entire post, and to see the tattoo’s Emmett and I got from Andy.
The boutique itself is really cool! Art is displayed from floor to ceiling throughout in gallery style frames. There’s also no lack of ornate victorian furniture and fun curiosities.
To give you a better idea of Andy’s style- he loves stippling (shading and depth by the use of tiny dots), repeating geometrics, and you’ll never guess his favorite content to tattoo…? Anything floral! Which he’s obviously very good at. He also developed his own technique of stippling and it not only looks amazing- it helps with the healing process.
I can thank one of my friends for introducing me to Andy’s instagram. Shortly after following him, I made the realization he is located in Columbus, Ohio. For Emmett and myself, it was sort of a no brainer to make an appointment. His aesthetic is so beautiful and unique… the four month waitlist was well worth it. We have this thing, a tradition if you will- every place (or rather state) we live in, we get tattooed together. Not matching tattoos, just whatever we’re feeling at the time. Large-scale, super tiny, important and meaningful content, or not- for us, it’s all about the experience and creating a memory for a point in time.
This time around, Emmett actually landed on a self-explanatory, meaningful tattoo (it’s our current house). Above, you can see the beginning stages. Here’s out it turned out… pretty amazing!
In my own typical fashion, I opted for a small, feminine piece that is a little inconspicuous. Lately I’ve been inspired by Picasso-style, blind contour line drawings. I used to do a ton of them back in art school. They’re super minimal and organic. I also prefer light, non-heavy or dark, tattoos. I told Andy he could create whatever he wanted as long as it had the contour line sort of vibe, and was light and feminine. I was super excited to see what he had in mind (this was before knowing his favorite thing to tattoo is flowers). Here’s how it turned out…
I had plenty of time to pick Andy’s brain during Emmett’s session for the Artist Spotlight mini interview- here’s what I learned. Andy actually has a background in Fine Arts and ten(!) years of graphic design experience (much like myself). It was only a few years ago he decided to open his own tattoo shop. His father’s encouragement led him to tattooing and the rest is history.
S: Choosing a tattoo artist says a lot about someone’s style preference. Could you describe your preferred style?
A: You know, it is a lot about style preference. I never understood people who just go into a shop and are like ‘I just want anyone to do the tattoo.’ It’s such a personal thing. But it’s not just style… It’s about so much more. I mean there are TONS of tattoo artists out there now, and yes you as a customer you should find an artist that matches your style but don’t just settle for that. Find a tattoo artist, that’s an artist first. Find someone that pushes them self, that continues to try to grow as an artist. Look at their artwork and try to determine if they are creating new pieces and moving forward or is their artwork the same imagery that they’ve been using for six or seven years? But beyond that – find someone that CARES. I don’t know what it is about this industry that makes people think it’s ok to act like a rock star asshole. No, it’s never ok for someone to act like that. It infuriates me that people think it’s acceptable. It’s NOT! We create things for people that are deeply meaningful to them and will be with them for the rest of their lives. We as artists must always remember that – it’s not about ME, it’s about the art. It’s about creating something meaningful for you the client. Ethics – ya know. Basic ethics seem to be non-existent in many shops these days… But to answer the original question – style? I find it hard to say. I’ll say that I love grey wash, I love black and white. I love reducing things to its core and seeing what you can get away with. The old, “less is more” challenge. But I also love the longevity of black and grey work. It’s so solid. But it will always be that challenge to create that illusion of light. ‘It’s not the story of the object – it’s the story of the light on that object.’ Who said that? Genius.
S: What do you love most about tattooing?
A: Out of everything, I would probably say the intimate connection with clients, learning about why they’re getting tattooed, their motivations… etc. The day to day interactions of meeting new clients and learning more from returning clients, it’s really inspiring and powerful. I don’t know of any medium that is so connected between patron and artist. I was a graphic designer for many years before becoming a tattoo artist, and it really was the polar opposite. Creation by committee, drove me crazy. The ability to create things, personal little images for people that will be a part of their lives forever… it really means so much. And it’s an honor that someone would pick me to do that for them.
S: How do you stay inspired as a tattoo artist and how does that inspiration translate to a medium like tattooing?
A: I think as an artist of any medium we must ALWAYS be searching and hunting for things that inspire us. And not just in your medium of choice. Keeping a flow of images, ideas, creative analysis and critical thinking of your work and other’s work is in my opinion one of the keys to growing and moving forward. Looking back, that’s one of the great things I learned at art school that you might not pick up on in a traditional tattooing environment. Critical thinking, no matter how you do it must accompany any art or else you will become stagnant, burned out, and stale. Whatever it is – going to museums, looking at art, design, craft blogs, – finding things that you love and applying those inspirations to your personal artwork – rinse and repeat.
Thanks so much, Andy! I’m really stoked to have a little piece of his permanent work.