Six Questions For Tattoo Artist Josh Sutterby At Kids Love Ink East

How did you make your way into tattooing?

I'd never really payed much attention to tattoos until about 8 years ago when a friend of mine got his first tattoo from Thomas Hooper. It was a big anchor with eagle wings all in black and grey. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. From that moment on we both started getting tattooed on a regular basis. I quickly fell in love with traditional American style tattoos. And a lot of the classic imagery started to filter into my own illustrative work, eagles, snakes, roses etc. As this happened alot of my friends were saying to me "you should do tattoos" but I wasn't really sure it was for me.Eventually after a few years of thinking about it I finally met Charlie (Shazer) through a friend and he offered to help me out with an apprenticeship. We worked side by side in a private studio for over a year until he decided to open up his shop (Kids Love Ink East) and asked me to come and work there and that's what I've been doing up until now.

How would you sum up your tattooing style?

I only really think my style is starting to come through now after 2 and a half years of tattooing. I've been really focusing on what makes up traditional western tattoos and learning the actual application of the style of tattoos I want to do and I haven't really given myself the chance to be experimental with my drawings. In the next year or so I'm gonna try and inject a little more of my own ideas into my work. I'd say my work revolves around western traditional tattoos but with a slight twist. I try to apply the same formula to each tattoo I do some hopefully my style comes through there too.

What are the key elements that make up a good tattoo?

The simpler the better in my opinion. I think a lot of people try to over complicate things with lines that don't need to be there and crazy colours and I feel theres just no reason for this other than to hide the fact that the design is bad. I like to strip back the design to a bare minimum of lines and just let the tattoo speak for its self once its actually been applied. I also think that a tattoo should have the look and feel of a tattoo. I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel here and i think there are certain rules that should be followed to keep that classic aesthetic. I'm not a big fan of doing fiddly illustrative line work and I wouldn't go anywhere near a portrait. I think there are a select few people who are really killing that style but its not really for me.

Where do you take most inspiration?

I think its just inspiring seeing people going after what they want. One thing I'm not short of is creative friends and most of them are well on their ways to absolutely smashing it in the creative world. I think that's the most inspiring thing to see and drives me daily to work hard and do the same.

How do you feel about tattoo culture now it has moved in to the mainstream?

Well I kind of came into tattooing whilst it was going that way so I'm not really sure i witnessed the transition fully but I'd say its probably a good thing. I mean everybody has tattoos these days. When the sun is out your lucky to spit without hitting some one who has a tattoo which can only be a good thing for people in the industry. But I guess that goes hand in hand with an over saturation of people actually wanting to tattoo. I was always quite adamant that I never wanted to pick up a machine unless there was someone there to guide me along and luckily it worked out really well for me. I think a lot of the older heads that have been in the game a long time want to protect the trade they have worked so hard to preserve and I can see why. Its really sad to see that any chump can buy a piece of shit tattoo machine or even a half decent tattoo machine and start tattooing out of their house. I mean I don't really give a fuck if they are damaging their friends but its actually causing cracks beneath the surface to an age old industry that many people earned the right of passage to by working their asses off to get into. I don't want to preach because I've only been in it for a few years. I think as long as you learn properly and fly right you can do what ever you like.

What would you say to anyone thinking about their first tattoo? Apart
from come to you.

Do your research on the artist you want and Let the tattooer do their job. Theres a reason you came to them. The more input you have in the design of the tattoo and the more "original" you think you are being, The more you'll probably regret your tattoo in the future.

Photos by Viktor Vauthier

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