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Josh Schlageter: Tattoo Artist

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Originally from Rochester, Josh has been tattooing for over eight years, seven of those with Buffalo’s Hand of Doom Tattoo (Artvoice winner Best Tattoo five consecutive years). An expert at bringing the customer’s vision to ink, Josh is a self taught artist, a rarity in the industry.

How did you get into the trade and how long did your apprenticeship take?

I got into the trade from being an artist and skateboarder getting tattooed. Tattoo art has always interested me to the point of trying tattooing on myself and willing friends. Luckily, soon after I landed a job at a legit shop. I did not have any formal apprenticeship, I am a self-taught tattooer. That is not the traditional route.

How many tattoos do you have and which one is the most important to you?

I’m not sure how many tattoos I have exactly, but I am tattooed from the bottom of my neck to my feet, including some on my knuckles and palms. I don’t have one that is most important. I have tattoos with my son, daughter and wife’s names, tattoos that I have flown across the country for and some that I got just for the art.

What is the most interesting or bizarre tattoo that you’ve done?

Some of the most interesting tattoos are the bizarre ones. I have done so many tattoos on so many people across the country over the years I could never pick just one.

Are there any specific tattoos that you cant stand doing anymore (tribals, Chinese calligraphy, etc)?

I enjoy doing all types of tattoos. Tattooing is the hardest, most challenging and most disciplined thing I have ever done. I constantly work to the best of my ability, creating a fun and ever-evolving job. The styles that I enjoy doing the most are traditional American and Japanese.

How does the tattoo differ from other forms of artistic expression?

When tattooing you are turning someone else’s idea into a design. You have to make yourself and the client happy. You have to use some good taste, good craftsmanship and experience when working on somebody’s skin permanently.

What is it like to see the tattoo becoming more mainstream everyday? Does it surprise you when older adults come into the shop?

There are good things and bad things about how mainstream tattooing is becoming. I am happy about the fact that more people are getting tattooed—keeping me busier than ever. The down side is that a lot of people are tattooing that shouldn’t be. The industry is becoming very saturated with low quality tattoo artists.

Who handles the pain better, men or women?

It depends on the individual.

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