STUDIO: HOUSE OF THIEVES TATTOO, BIRMINGHAM
P&CO: Firstly tell us a bit more about you!
JOSH: Hi, names Josh Russell, I’m a tattooist based in Leicester but travel a lot to various shops. I've been tattooing for about 2 and half years, and do a lot of black, graphic style tattoos (elaborate tribal I guess it is)
P&CO: Did you always know you wanted to be a tattoo artist? Are there any individuals that personally inspired you?
JOSH: I was always into tattoos, from a young age as my dad and my uncles had them, in fact so did half my cousins at the age 14! My Auntie used to be a scratcher tattooist from her kitchen, so they all had them! But I was never allowed one, so it interested me even more! Good job to be fair, because what I wanted at 14 was fucking horrendous! My cousin had his own initials tattooed on his neck, just incase he ever forgets I think.
P&CO: Your body of work is made up primarily of bold blackwork pieces, what is it about that style that you are drawn to? What stuff did you start out doing?
JOSH: I’ve always loved black tattoos, just because of the edgy ugliness of them. Tattoos aren't supposed to be perfect and aesthetically pleasing all the time. I started off doing mainly traditional black tattoos with more shading, then gradually started liking the contrast of using solid black against the skin with minimal shading, and the more graphic style and simplicity, the less is more look.
I had a lot of influences when I first started, mainly friends who helped me along; such as my friend Lukasz, who opened my eyes to black tattooing. Before I started we used to hangout and I’d just watch him tattoo and ask Questions. Then there’s my friend Han who encouraged me to keep up with the more solid black aspect of things… Now I get my inspiration from everywhere, mainly old vintage books, vintage posters, match box postcards, pop art, and fashion illustration. I try to keep an eye out for new ideas everywhere I go, and take pics on my Phone or write ideas into my notes.
P&CO: You make guest appearances, doing your thing all over the UK & Europe, would you say the style of clientele differs from country to country- where is your work the biggest hit?
Yeah, I've been very lucky in that aspect, that people actually give a shit about my work enough to ask me to guest at their shop! Generally I would say my work tends to be more popular outside of the uk. I think because in sunny climates people like the black bold stuff, as they know it won't fade as quick as black and grey tattoos. But it is definitely picking up a lot more now over here in the uk, slowly but surely.
P&CO: So how was your time here in Birmingham at House of Thieves? We know meeting us was the highlight!
JOSH: Ahhh I fucking love it in Birmingham at house of thieves! The custard factory is such a cool place! I Recommend anyone to go there. And rob and holly are awesome hosts! I always enjoy seeing them, they take me to the best burger joint ever, it's fantastic. And yeah of course seeing you guys was a bonus, always nice to catch up!
P&CO: How did you discover P&Co? Are you a fan of the brand?
JOSH: I first came across P&Co when a guy I know called Ricki hall did some modelling for you, and I liked your stuff and the whole biker aspect of it. I think it appeals to tattooists and tattoo collectors with the designs, you can see that tattoo influence in them. And the leather wear is rad!
P&CO: In your Instagram bio you claim to have been producing unemployment since 2015 haha. Do you think this is still an issue in certain industries?
JOSH: Yeah, I do think that in certain parts of the country and amongst some of the older generation, there are still judgemental wankers. It's slowly fizzling out I think as people are more open minded nowadays. But where I live is quite an old fashioned pretentious place, so I do get a lot of staring and head shaking from time to time. I think within certain office jobs and customer relations it's still discriminated against for sure! And people who have tattoos which they can’t cover in a shirt are over looked, but that's just my opinion.
P&CO: Finally, do you have anything set for the future? What can we expect to see from Josh Russell?
What to see from me.... probably just ridiculous Instagram Videos on my News feed as per. I’m just trying to keep pushing my tattoos and be as good and productive as I can possibly be. I'm hoping at some point to definitely start doing some sort of clothes and merchandise… And hopefully working on a collaboration with yourselves!