Who are you and what do you do @ Artisan Alley?
My name is Justin Cox and I’m a Tattoo Artist & Board President of Artisan Alley.
How Did You Get Started with being a Tattoo Artist?
I participated in a work study program through my high school in 2002 at Cain’s Grafik Dragon, a local tattoo shop in Ellettsville, Indiana. I received some valuable experience by doing the extra work that other artists did not want to perform. I stepped up to show my dedication and helped pick up cigarette butts using hemastats, mopped floors, polished chrome on my boss’s Harley, learned sterilization techniques, and a bunch of grunt work. Apprenticeships through tattooing is necessary to training and to learn patience and dedication. It’s a difficult apprenticeship and they really test you. I did all of the gross work including cleaning up puke and scrubbing toilets. After high school, I worked for various tattoo shops and then landed at Artisan Alley in early 2017.
Why Do You Love Being A Tattoo Artist?
I love the lasting and permanence of artwork on the human body. The artwork is seen and it’s not just hung up in a gallery. It may be seen my hundreds or thousands of people who may not even be seeking out artwork. For many forms of traditional artwork, you have to visit a museum, an actual gallery, etc… and not a lot of people take that opportunity. With tattoo art, you can go to a gas station, the mall, etc.. and see meaningful artwork just walking around. Tattooing has a huge history longer than most people realize and it’s one of the oldest forms of artwork. I love to be a part of this ancient tradition.
How were you drawn to your art form(s)?
It seems that art is dying in today’s world. I stencil, paint, sketch, make signs, pastels, etc… It’s not just tattooing and this other work transfers over to my tattooing. I always try to approach things in a creative way. One thing that separates artists from others is that we are problem solvers. Whether it’s building a shelf or drawing a picture we are going to find a way to make it work.
What other artists inspire you or have motivated you to be a creator?
Seeing my parent’s friends that were covered in tattoos and my grandfather’s old naval tattoos piqued my interest. Seeing my high school friends pay to get tattoos definitely influenced my decision to try this out. My entire family is a creative group of artists that provided me the support and told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be… and they were right!
Why did you get involved with Artisan Alley?
Affordable rent for a studio work space was a good first step. I knew when I met Adam and some of the other artists that I was going to join Artisan Alley. I viewed this as a great space for artists to plan the future of art and to reach out to the community to help save local art. My goal is continued growth for Artisan Alley and Cox Art Studios. I am looking to draw in more of a variety of artists. Sometimes people don’t view their work as “art” but I want to help Artisan Alley provide the space and opportunity for others to promote their craft.
How can others get involved and help further the cause?
Come and get tattooed, volunteer for Artisan Alley, or just come and visit and take a look at the place.