By Timothy Baldwin
TB: Have you noticed any sort of evolution in the tattoo community over your time getting tattooed and being professionally involved in it? If so, what are some of the specific changes?
J: I love that tattoos seem to be more widely accepted and appreciated each and every day. More and more people wear ink and therefore, the artform and the artists creating the work earn more respect for their amazing accomplishments. One specific thing that I notice more (and that I really love) is artists’ willingness to share their techniques, tricks, and tips with each other. Where these dynamics might have been looked at as “secrets” at one point in time, nowadays, I get the vibe that artists just want to create, grow, and educate one another together. That’s a pretty incredible thing to watch and it only makes each artist that much better and more prepared for each client they tattoo...which in the long run benefits tattoo collectors greatly...
TB: When did you first start getting more involved in the tattoo industry beyond being a tattoo collector, and how so?
J: Well, I had been a client and friend of Mike DeVries for many years when we started talking about working on a book together. I helped him with the very first Memento Publishing book, “Let’s Be Realistic” and that was my springboard for entering the world of tattoo-related writing. I had worked for a magazine in Southern California before that covering local events, restaurants, music, etc.; but this was my first dive into writing about something that I really had a passion for. Shortly thereafter, I began writing for several tattoo magazines, while I continued to write and edit books for Memento. I now have my own publishing company, Out of Step Books, and truly appreciate the fact that I get to work in this industry with the amazing people that I do, each and every day.
TB: What future projects can we expect to see from OOS Books and new additions to your tattoo collection?
J: Well, we are VERY EXCITED about our book, Eight Arms of Inspiration: The Octopus Art Project (which was co-published with Memento Publishing) that just came out in February , 2013. It has had an incredibly positive response so far and we are so grateful to everyone who was a part of the project and has supported it by purchasing a copy.
In keeping with with our “Inspirational Art Project” focus, we are currently in the process of creating our second book in the series, this time centering the interest on insects. Submissions are open until June 3rd and so far, the artwork that has been sent in is incredible! We hope to have these back from the printer by the end of October, so look for that book to be released in the winter of 2013.
One very important aspect of Out of Step Books’ direction and goal as a company is our work with Donorschoose.org, which is an amazing charity that pairs up donors like us with public school teachers who need help funding projects and keeping their classrooms supplied with basic materials to give kids a chance. There are different areas of focus that donors can choose contribute to (ie: science, reading, math, art, etc.) and our focal point is on arts education. With each round of books sold, Out of Step Books is able to make our dream of helping these classrooms in need, by donating to different teachers who have reached out for aid. Because this was the initial dream of the Eight Arms Project, it’s been absolutely incredible to see it come to fruition. We have received beautiful and heartfelt notes from the teachers that we have donated to and it’s been so rewarding to the artists involved with the book, and to us as a publishing company. We also have a very special “Donors Choose Art Print Series” where we sell watercolor art prints of work that has been donated to this cause and 100% of the profits from these print sales go to our Donors Choose fun. So far, our line includes work from: Tommy Lee Wendtner, Oleg Turyanskiy, Clark, North, and Josh Duffy. Our “Projects Supported” page can be found here: http://www.donorschoose.org/OutOfStepBooks
In terms of my tattoo collection, I have always leave that open to what inspires me next, but I do have a few people who I am determined to get tattooed by and are very special people to boot, which include: Sean Herman, Timmy B., Rich Pineda, Kirk Alley, Jonathan Montalvo, another piece by Eva Huber, and Oleg Turyanskiy. So watch out boys (and Miss Eva), I’ll be coming to talk your ear off (I talk a lot when I get tattooed - it keeps my mind off the pain) sometime soon! =)
TB: If you were to pick one other activity to spend as much time as you’ve spent under the needle, what would it be?
J: Swimming! Even though it’s technically a no-no for tattoo collectors, I am very good at keeping the chlorine at bay (I promise), I swim 2-3 miles almost every morning. It’s my favorite way to relax and I call it my underwater therapy. =)