For me, I always thought that there was something unique about tattoos. It is fascinating as an art form, as a symbol, as something you want to represent and express yourself with. Its endless possibilities of exploration as an art form is at times restricted by the market and certain stigma within society. When I decided to contact Jose Carlos Jr, an art influencer and tattoo artist in Sydney, I wanted to understand his journey in exploring the world of art and tattoo.
As an influencer who inspires people every day, Jose helped me to understand how tattooing and art becomes one and how he aspires to help people be creative and look out of the box.
Tell me how everything got started?
My mum was an artist and she encouraged me to go into art since I was three years old. I’ve always been doing art ever since but when I understood it a bit more, I decided to try it and see where that would take me in the future.
I started with the standard works of art such as sketching, painting and designing but everything really began to take off when I was making designs for tattoos. Friends and family took notice and encouraged me to pursue this direction and soon more people started appreciating what I was doing.
For me, I was one of those people who simply wanted to keep on doing what I like to do.
Did you start in Brazil?
Yes, everything started in Brazil, when I came here I started to take tattooing more seriously. The style was a big problem and I had to look for references since I didn’t have my own.
It was at this time when I broke away from everything I knew and everything I believed was right. I wanted a style that was free, vivid in graphics along with random colors and changing outlines.
So who inspired your style?
There’s one tattoo artist in Sau Paulo who has been my inspiration. His name is Victor Montaghini who makes art extremely well and is an established artist in Brazil. When he combined it with tattoos he achieved a unique style and he does everything I wish I could. He studies a lot of art, its history and he manages to get a result that is absolutely unique when transitioned into a tattoo. When you compare his tattoos to anyone else’s, you can immediately tell the difference.
What would you say your style is?
My main style is the combination of deep art and tattoo veering towards the abstract and life. I also really love fashion illustration, the sketches of legs, hair, look and the eyes. It feels free in its elements in some sort of way. I have a bunch of fashion illustrators that I follow on social media. So I really appreciate an art, that is very free in its form and is something I would like to create and draw inspiration from.
My creative form is definitely towards the free side, using a moving sketch style along with watercolor and graphical twists but it also changes and evolves constantly.
How did your Instagram blow up?
Well I initally started photography and I got an iPhone 4s. I had a great camera and I started taking photos everywhere in all different angles, playing with editing and posting all these different illustrations and artworks I created. It was at a time when I started to get really nice responses and soon my followers just kept growing.
Now I honestly don’t even know how it grew so quickly, nor was I getting any money from it but I just kept on posting pictures that I thought would inspire people and allow them to explore different angles and designs in art.
What do you post?
I mostly posted the collections of artworks, illustrations and tattoos I drew. I also liked to post the sketches and the digital prints that are from my works. It’s a really nice thing to see people engaged with that and to see the response that comes with it.
I want people to simply have fun when they look at my posts. All my illustrations are free in form and it works well with the digital sketches of my concepts that is applied to my tattooing and art. I like to push the boundaries and I want people to explore and be free as much as they want.
Boundaries in art and tattoo?
There’s actually a difference between art and tattoo in Australia. In Brazil the mentality is much more open towards a style that converges between tattoo and art. In Australia, it’s very traditional and people prefer this style of traditional, thick line, old school stuff with high contrast.
In here, tattoo and art still have a long way to go before they actually merge. Whereas in Brazil, we have so many talented artists that are tattoos artists as well, so you constantly get results that are unique and look amazing.
What’re your thoughts regarding this limitation?
I think people here see being a tattoo artist as a job. For example, you are a photographer and you specialise in wedding or events photography and that is your life’s work. However, that isn’t a really artistic or free way to work. In a sense, with these photos, you are bound by its constructs and its limits.
I think that’s happening to tattoo artists in Sydney, that there is a certain limitation. People see tattooing as a job so they adapt themselves to the market in order to generate constant work.
If I followed a traditional path, I would get a lot of work and I would be set. But one day you will wake up and have that feeling of repetition, of doing something you have to do and not something you want to do.
I don’t want to go on that path, just simply for the money. I want to do something that motivates me to get up in the morning. I think that’s the true difference when you either adapt yourself to the market or try and change the market to adapt to you.
Check out more of Jose’s story in our next issue. If you’re interested in some inspirational and groundbreaking artworks, follow his Instagram at @gordotaub.
Journo for ECX Magazine