Tattoo Artist Interview: Josh Fisher
Norwich-based blackwork artist Josh Fisher made waves at The Tattoo Collective last year with an incredible geometric bodysuit, scooping first place in our ‘Best Ornamental’ competition.
Josh has since been busy creating more mind-blowing bodysuits and large-scale tattoos, and we can’t wait to see what he is working on at The Tattoo Collective this weekend. We caught up with Josh to learn more about his influences, inspirations and tattoo heroes this week. Read the full interview below…
How long have you been tattooing, and where did you learn your craft?
I taught myself the basics around 2008, before a kind biker called Randy Martin took me under his wing and allowed me to work in his studio in Great Yarmouth, where I learnt a huge amount both about myself and tattooing. He strongly believed in finding your own path, but would always offer any advice when needed. It was a great little shop, mega old-school and sadly a dying breed. I feel very privileged to have been a part of it, and the wonderful shop family that came with it. The time I was there was mainly spent doing any small flash pieces on holiday-makers, and a few of our close friends. After a year or so, I was encouraged to go to a fully custom studio in Norwich and continue to progress with complete freedom.
What sparked your interest in tribal and geometric tattooing?
The first time I met Xed Le Head… I’d never seen work like it before and it simply blew my mind what was achievable. I spent a lot of time getting tattooed by him and we built up a fantastic friendship, spending endless nights talking about everything and anything. He really is a true pioneer and without a doubt one of the biggest influences within geometric tattooing.
After almost ten years of working with a lot of geometry there was a natural progression into other forms of tribal work. In truth, I’m beginning to favour doing the heavier and bolder work, its just so striking seeing someone with a huge amount of black to contrast against bare skin, I guess I’d refer to it as “high impact tattooing”.
There seems to be a new resurgence of tribal work which is absolutely amazing, with loads of new faces appearing and everyone bringing something strong to the table.
You are often working on large-scale pieces and bodysuits. There is something very special about a full suit; it requires a huge amount of trust, dedication and stamina from clients. Can you tell us a little about the process – how does a full bodysuit design come together? How would you describe the transformative effects of becoming heavily tattooed?
I can remember hearing a saying, “bodysuits are wanted by many but achieved by few”, and it couldn’t be more true. Let’s be honest, finding clients who manage to see it through to the end are like finding rocking horse crap! They need to have the ‘magic 3’… commitment, money and of course the ability to tolerate endless hours of pain, both getting the work and then healing it. So many people give up along their journey, or life just gets in the way of them making it to the end. Those who do manage to complete the suits have my complete and utter respect, it’s a huge undertaking for both parties involved, but often great friendships develop along the way and your lives become somewhat entwined.
I’m not one to plan too much, I like things to develop organically and plans change constantly, so I’ve always found deciding on a theme with the client and running with it is the best way. The more relaxed the clients are, the better the results.
The transformative effects are amazing. My favourite moment was whilst working on a friend called Sam, I wanted to enter him in a competition about half way through the suit. Persuading him to get into just his boxers was a nightmare that first time… a year later, we were working at The International London Tattoo Convention and before I knew it he was posing with people for photos in just a thong loving every minute. Like he said, “it made all the pain and suffering worth it”.
Which artists have been your biggest influences in tattooing?
This is an easy one… INTO YOU is hands down the greatest studio of all time, in my opinion. Such a huge amount of the greatest blackworkers have been through those doors at some point in their career, including all my biggest influences; Xed Le Head, Curly, Steve Herring, Alex Binnie and Tomas Tomas. Getting to know some of these guys has been fantastic and I’m extremely grateful for all the hard work these guys did that paved the way for people like myself. Without them we simply couldn’t do what we do now.
Outside of the tattoo world, where do you draw inspiration?
Well, in a total contrast, my personal artwork couldn’t be further away from tattooing! Anybody that knows me knows that I’m a fanatical angler. Since I was a child I’ve been mesmerised by fish and find them fascinating. I solely paint/draw fish or angling scenes if its non-work related. Perhaps in the future this may even take a hold in my tattooing, who knows?
Last year you entered The Tattoo Collective competition in the ‘Best Ornamental’ category and came first place with an incredible bodysuit. How did it feel to win? Do you plan to enter any more work this year?
I was gobsmacked! There were so many amazing entries, to win really was something, especially not being a ‘big name’ artist. I recall getting tattooed by Alex Binnie a couple of months prior to the convention and noticing he had won “Best Tribal” at the original London Tattoo Convention, which was also held in the Brewery… in a minor way it kind of felt a little like following in the footsteps of a “hero”, as cheesy as that sounds!
This year I have another suit to enter. We’ll see how it goes, the competition is tough, but we’ve poured everything we can into this one so let’s see what happens!
Lastly, how can visitors book in with you at The Tattoo Collective?
I’m fully booked for the Collective this year, working on one of the suits, however I’d love for people to stop by and chat. There’s a possibility that I might have some time late on the Sunday afternoon for a walk up. There will also be a variety of Borneo influenced prints and t-shirts to grab.
Catch Josh tattooing at The Old Truman Brewery this weekend, 17th-18th March. Advance Tickets are now available to purchase online, and Students are entitled to 50% off ticket prices on the gate. Don’t miss it!