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.
“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.”
“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).”
“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.”
“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…”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
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Photography: Joanne Baker