Our Artist Spotlight is on Joshua Hibbard of No Hope No Fear Tattoo Art Studio in Portland, Oregon. You will recognize Joshua from season 3 of Spike TV’s Ink Master. Long before Joshua was on Ink Master he served in the US Military and was a talented artist who ran two successful tattoo studios in California.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua between clients at No Hope No Fear Art Studio:
Joshua: I have been been tattooing for about 11 years.
AnoTat2: Did you always aspire to be an artist?
Joshua: I stated drawing when I was very young as a way to imitate and idolize my older brother Hiram. He is two years older than me and has always been my biggest hero. I started selling art as young as elementary school. I sold some of my first drawings in kindergarden to fellow students for $1 and started drawing live portraits for people at street markets when I was in middle school. As a freshman in high school I sold drawings to teachers and won college art competitions.
Joshua: After my freshmen year in high school my living situation dramatically changed, I dropped out of high school and joined the military. Soon after, my military buddies started asking me to draw tattoos for them and after I started seeing my drawings come back on peoples skin I got really interested becoming a tattoo artist. I decided to get tattooed so that I could check out the local shop and ask the big question, How do you become a tattoo artist! The answer was loud and clear, Get an apprenticeship! I searched high and low for about a year educating myself along the way, and finally found one out of pure luck shortly after being stationed in San Diego.
Joshua: I was living in Pismo Beach, California and I owned a large studio with several local artists that were all in somewhat a learning process. I spent an incredible amount of energy and time working with them and helping them improve their tattooing. During this time I was approached by a creative producer from a large T.V. production company about filming my process and shop. After pursuing this for several months and hitting a brick wall, my fellow artist and I were left burned out and frustrated. After an amazing weekend of taking seminars at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering and a chance to connect with my favorite tattoo artist James Kern, I decided to redirect my focus on educating myself and spending my free time with my beautiful wife and two amazing kids. I moved to to Portland, Oregon to be closer to my Dad and brothers and landed my dream job working with James Kern and Rachel Gilbert. I was so glad to be out of California and away from the stress and frustration of trying to add being on T.V. to my life. The third month I was there a producer from Spike TV called the shop. They told me they had seen my work and asked me if I wanted to interview to compete for Ink Master Season 3. This meant 2 months on the other side of the country away from everything that I had just changed my whole life around for. I think you know what my answer was.
AnoTat2: Last year you returned to Oregon to work at No Hope No Fear Tattoo Studio which is in your hometown; it must have been great support while being on the show. Do you think it was an advantage knowing you had your hometown support while being away in NY filming?
Joshua: It was an advantage knowing that my wife and kids were around family and friends that they we could rely on. Doing a competition like this is a huge financial burden and I was fortunate enough to lean on my dad for support. There is a great community of people that believe in me and provide me with an incredible amount of love and support and without these people in my life I would not have been able to go to NY to compete.
AnoTat2: How stressful was it tattooing in the “time frame” giving for each challenge? Even more stressful tattooing while being filmed and the judges looking over every stroke; how did you prepare or cope with these conditions?
Joshua: Creating art that is truly honest and representational of both the collector and the artist is a very personal and time consuming process. Doing this in six hours is impossible. There is possibly no way to prepare for the mental and emotional strain that the competition puts you through. It is designed to stretch you to your limit emotionally and then once you are in your most vulnerable position every move is criticized. The use your strengths against you to expose your weaknesses and every time you think you know what coming next, you are given the complete opposite.
Joshua: From the very first episode, some of the other contestants made a habit of calling me names. Some of the other names were douche-bag and dick-head. Instigator was my favorite. I am not afraid to speak my mind and I love a chance to get into a challenging debate, especially about something that I am passionate about like art and tattooing. I think that this attitude of expressing my views and challenging others especially when it came to critiquing each others art and each other as artists made it clear that I love to instigate!
Joshua: I think that the closer that you get to any goal the more that you feel that you have to lose. After I had been there over a month, I started to really feel invested in the competition. The spot as a top three finalist becomes much more of a personal fight. The competition was still incredibly stressful and confusing and people really focused their negative energy on each other.
AnoTat2: Do you feel you should have been eliminated when you did? Do you think the judges had their “favorites” in which they did not judge as strongly?
Joshua: I feel that judging art in this type of venue is somewhat ridiculous. Art is so subjective and relies strongly on each persons personal perspective. This makes it impossible to have a fair and reasonable competition based completely on art. This subjectivity allows an infinite combination of influences on the judging that include personal relationships and favoritism. I feel that if the competition was based on who could perform the best tattoo work in the situation given, then I was clearly eliminated before my time.
AnoTat2: Through out the challenges we respected your stance on visible tattoos on the face, head and eyelids; how hard was it doing these tattoos?
Joshua: Tattooing on eyelids sucks! I think that if someone has a full body suit tattoo collection and would like to finish it with some taste-full artistic face tattoos then thats great! But if you are early in your life and you still want to achieve things that require woking with the public in any way, even as a tattoo artist, please think twice, laser hurts, especially on your face!
Joshua: No thanks. I would love to do more T.V. but I would prefer it be something with a much more positive motivation.
AnoTat2: Do you attend tattoo shows / conventions? If so which ones?
Joshua: I only do a limited number of shows each year. I have a very busy tattoo schedule at home and a very busy family life so I can’t make it to many shows. I will be attending the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational and Expo. Feb 21, 22, 23 and Hell City in April 11, 12, 13. I will be adding more travel dates soon and I will be posting them on my facebook fanpage.
Joshua: I’m planning on doing tons of tattoos and continuing to do everything in my power to improve as an artist and as a person.
~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴