Artist Joanne Baker is always colouring outside the lines

There are a few things I should point out before presenting you with this particular artist interview…

As a tattoo enthusiast, I show a love and excitement for the work of every single artist that I post on this blog. The following person however, I genuinely believe, has just taken first place as my favourite UK tattoo artist at the moment.

Her work is exquisite, and when I first came across it on Instagram, I expected it to be that of an internationally-renowned artist who had been tattooing for a long, long time…

Despite being located in Coventry, just 20 minutes from my doorstep, last week, I hadn’t heard of Joanne Baker. Like many artists, she has been focusing her efforts on creating artwork offline, rather than keeping her public marketing presence up-to-date.

When I write an introduction to an artist interview like this, I will think for a while about which adjectives to use to describe their work. It can be a difficult task. Now, scrolling through the last 3 months of Joanne’s pictures, my head is buzzing with words – fantastical, magical, nostalgic, delicate, colourful, homely, warming, uplifting, bright, narrative, dreamlike… I’ll stop now.

The final note I will leave you with, before I let Joanne do the talking, is… get your fingers ready to scroll. I haven’t managed to narrow down my favourite pieces of Joanne’s work from the last few months, to any less than 60 images.

I think that’s enough of an introduction.

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“My name is Joanne Baker. I am a tattoo artist currently based at Grizzlys Art Tattoos in Coventry. I have been tattooing professionally now for nearly 3 years, and did a two-year apprenticeship in the same studio. At the moment, I do a lot of illustration and watercolour-based work, but I also paint and draw illustrations outside of tattooing. Most of the imagery I work with is very nature or fantasy-art-based, colourful, scribbly and often outside the lines.”

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Grizzlys Art Tattoos, our studio, is great. The space I work in is very open plan and I am lucky enough to work with 4 other talented artists (Grizzly, Dan Dygas, Stephanie Hesketh & Mark Nesmith). It’s a really creative and friendly atmosphere, a lot like a second family. I think we work hard to encourage and support one another in our artwork. Often the studio is full of music, and we have nature DVDs on all day – which is a nice distraction for our clients. It’s the only studio I have worked in so far; it’s a lot of fun (if a little bit smutty at times).”

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“So many different artists inspire me. To name a few, Jeff Gogue is one of the first artists I came across in magazines and on the internet. He really made me look at tattooing as an art form in the beginning. I’ve always found his work inspiring. I also really admire David Corden and I am having a sleeve done by him; he is crazy talented, but also so helpful in giving advice and guidance with tattooing.”

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“I also love Matt Oddboys‘ work. He did my first tattoo, and I enjoy seeing how varied his tattoo styles are – from realism to squigglism… and his oil paintings are stunning. I would say style-wise, I really love Lianne Moules‘ work. It is such a delicate style and her use of colour is amazing, I would love to be tattooed by her sometime in the future. I really like Aga Yadous‘ work as well, such a unique style. Outside of tattooing I would say I look at a lot of illustrators’ work: from children’s books, vintage botanicals, anything like that. I could go on forever…”

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“I really enjoy doing illustration style work, or anything with a lot of colour. It allows me to be quite creative and feels quite a natural and a free way for me to work. But in general, I am happy to work with most styles and try new things, I haven’t been tattooing very long in the grand scheme of things, so I think it’s essential for me to try different styles and learn new skills and ways of working.”

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“In the future, I would love to do some darker work, more spooky or horror film based things, or even direct my illustration style work towards something more abstract. I would like to experiment more with painting and see where that takes me… see what it can bring to my tattoo work. There is so much I need to try; so much I need to learn. I suppose that’s the beauty of a job like this, you can never stop learning and growing.”

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“In the next 12 months, I will be doing a few conventions, the next one is at the end of July: Cardiff Tattoo and Toy Convention. I hope to do some guest spots, but haven’t really got anything concrete lined up. I just want to keep meeting amazing people, being inspired by other artists and having the pleasure of tattooing such lovely clients.”

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“My own first tattoo is a teacup on my wrist by Matt Oddboy – it was a teacup from my degree show installation, plus I love tea. On my right arm I have an unusual mix of images. A pinup, some squirrels, a clockwork scarab beetle and a painting called Hiding Place by Natalie Shau, All tattooed by David Corden. I have a portrait of Salvador Dali by Ben Montgomery. I have a thigh piece tattooed by Ed Hunt; it has a fox and cat skull and teapot in it. On my calves I have a Mexican clown girl and a voodoo doll face by Warren Perry, I also have small pattern work pieces on my inner ankles by Steph Hesketh and Grizzly. It’s safe to say I still have so much skin to cover with pretty skin pictures.”

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Before we finish our interview I ask Joanne if there is anything else she wants to share with us.

She replies. “Life is too short to colour inside the lines.”

Find Out More…

Grizzlys Art Coventry Website
Joanne Baker Tattoo Instagram

Photography: Joanne Baker

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