Interview with Tom Johnson | Unique Tattoo Style | UK 15/03/2023

  Hello Tom Johnson! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Tells us about your beginnings in this bussiness. What or who inspired you to start tattooing? It might sound cliche but I have always been interested in art as both my parents were hobby artists growing up. As I got older that developed into tattoos and once I got a few of my own that interest grew.

Q: Even very talented people struggle to master tattooing. One thing is to draw good, but skin is a totally different thing, different knowledge and approach. Was it hard to figure out the process, creatively and technically? Did you have any help?
A: I completed a traditional style apprenticeship which gave me a very good foundation to begin my career. In my opinion you never master tattooing as it is important to continue to learn and develop. For me, I have found that color studies, seminars and speaking to other artists are a great way to constantly update and improve my skills.

Q: How long took you to gain confidence in your work and regular clients?
A: I have been tattooing now (including my apprenticeship) for 14 years and in all honesty I still don’t have a bunch of confidence because I always want to do better. There are soo many amazing artists out there producing phenomenal work that I aspire to learn from. I am super lucky with my clients that some of them have been with me throughout my entire tattoo career and trust me to have allowed my style to evolve throughout their collection of work.

Q: I love your style. I don't know which tattoo is my favorite, I like all hah! I love the cartoonish vibe a lot. Very unique and personal for the person having the tattoo and and even the original photo reference has its own turn, almost like a caricature. Very, very nice! How did you came up with this? Was this style maybe inspired by some other type of art, not necessarily the tattoo styles that we have now?
A: I have always been heavily influenced by new school artists like Jesse Smith, Joe Capobianco, Jim Litwalk and Tanane Whitfield. Along with the work of realism artists like Brandon Bond, Nikko Hurtado and David Corden. I am still in the really early stages of developing my style but am excited to see where it goes.

Q: Tell me about the creative process. I bet you draw sketches for each client. What type of features, either facial or body... are the most fun to do? - Do you take few reference images and mix into one design?
A: I am pretty old fashioned compared to younger tattooists who are really capable using procreate. I am a bit of an analogue man stuck in a digital world! So I often like to sit with multiple reference images, books, pencils and paper and map out my designs that way. I am trying, with the help of the guys in my studio, to become more capable on Procreate.

Q: What would be like the coolest, craziest designs you would like to tattoo on your best friend?
A: Right now I would love to do an Ozzy Osbourne mash up. I have a couple of designs mocked up that include a realism style portrait and loads of new school background!

Q: I think we will agree on this. I think this style it is not only very cool and unique on its own, but gives you more creative freedom when it comes to ideas and their interpretation. What do you like the most about your style?
A: There is no limitation to how adventurous you can be with the design.

Q: I like the simplicity and the funny vibe but also I bet one tattoo can be done in just one session, right? It would be a relief knowing that there will be no long sessions and long healing time over and over again, like a sleeve or a backpiece.
A: Generally I can complete my pieces in 1-2 full days. I am lucky to have clients who like to sit the two days in a row and so I get to see a design fully completed.


Q: Would you change something about your style? Or maybe try a new style?
A: I would like to just continue to develop and push my current skill set within my chosen style and see where it goes.

Q: The last decade, this industry waw blooming and we are still doing good. I'm happy for all the new names, the new styles, thank goodness, tribals and 2000s cross with rose designs are gone! Haha It's all thanks to you, the new generation of artists who put the work and stayed curious. What's your opinion about the tattoo scene now? - A few words about your local scene?
A: It's amazing to see soo many early artists who are super talented and whose style is already so well developed. I think this helps to keep us all pushing forward with our own abilities and stop us from being complacent. Its really nice to see that locally people are focussing on their own styles and really working hard to push away from this idea that a tattoo artist has to cover all styles for everybody.

Q: Where are you located now? Please write down your studio location and contact details. Are you available for bookings?
A: I am based at No Morals Tattoos, Letchworth, Hertfordshire, UK
Bookings can be made contacting me via email or DM.

Q: Is there anything you would like to promote here?
A: I am always open to working with new clients on designs who are happy to let me work within my own style; once they have given me their portrait request of course!

Q: What your journey in this tattoo business taught you? What would you say to all those young people who want to try getting into this business?
A: It shouldn’t be taken for granted how much of a lifestyle this industry is, and whilst social media is an amazing platform for reference imagery and reaching out to clients and artists across the world; you shouldn’t base your success on the number of likes/followers nor compare your journey to someone else’s because no two are the same.

Thanks so much