Introducing Joey Sasso from Beneath The Surface as our featured Tattoo Artist. With five years behind him and producing quality pieces we get to know this, content in his trade, artist.
Name: Joey Sasso
Shop: Beneath The Surface
Years tattooing: 5yrs
Tattoo style: Black and Grey Realism
Hourly rate: R1100/hr
How would you best sum up your journey into becoming a full time tattoo artist?
When I started to become an artist I found myself drawn to the alternative scene and with the inspiration of friends and family I got my first job as an apprentice in a tattoo studio, which sparked up a completely different side of life. After my apprenticeship I took a small break to make sure that this was what I wanted to do and as life happens I got involved in a major bike accident that left me in a wheelchair for about a year. After being immobilized for so long I resorted back to my artistic roots and got back into tattooing, which was a lot of hard work with not being able to walk and dealing with the trauma of my recovery, but in the long run I pushed through and made it work. Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else Tattooing has been my saving grace.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt along your way?
I think the things I have learnt have become my guidelines in life and work are as simple as – Stay Humble and instead of trying to be better than everyone rather use the knowledge you have to better other people in their journey.
Improve for yourself because at the end of the day you will always be your biggest critic and your worst enemy, so if you can learn to challenge yourself you will have nothing but smooth sailing on your way to be the best you could be.
There will always be something in your way in life and whatever it is, it will always push the wrong way. No matter what, if you can keep you eyes set on your goals the obstacles will eventually become things you can look back on and say “that did not beat me.”
What about tattooing and the tattoo industry intrigues you?
Imagine being able to live your wildest dreams exactly the way you want. What interests me is the amount of expression that is given in the whole industry, whether it be an artist, a piercer, a client, every person that has ever been involved has this fire inside of them. The greatest thing is that everything that is given and received is genuine, as an artist I don’t need to hide who I am or try be anything other than myself and to be able to have an entire community of people that feel exactly the same gives you an entirely different perspective of the people around you. It allows you to appreciate a lot more. Besides, who wants to be in a suit all day when you could wear shorts and a shirt and still kick ass during the day.
Where do you see the industry in 5 years time?
5 years is along time away [laughs] but with the progression of artists now I can see that a lot of the younger guys are coming in to make a mark, and instead of tattooing as a statement and having the old school mentality it has become more about the artwork. If that progression can carry on I feel that the taboo of tattoos will disappear and the industry will be recognized as a professional art form, and hopefully a form of tattoo education could be implemented to prevent “scratchers” from causing more damage to people who don’t know what the industry standards should be.
Where would you like to see this career take you?
At this point in time I am very content with where I am and I would want nothing more than to just being able to do my work for the rest of my life. But, at some point in my career, and hopefully this will be soon, I want to be able to take my art abroad, maybe become a traveling tattoo artist to see the world from a different point of view and also to give myself a bit of time to live and understand myself a lot more.
How do you make sure you keep progressing as a tattoo artist?
I find a lot of inspiration in the people I surround myself with and I use the energy I get from those people to help me create what I do, and improve in every way that I can. I feel that if you can channel an emotion into art you are always able to express yourself a lot more, so whether it be heartbreak, anger or happiness it is a fuel that every artist needs to be able to create and think the way others don’t. That is what makes us artists.
What style of tattoo would you say you specialize in and why?
I Specialize in Black and Grey Realism. B & G is a very simple art-form with only being able to use a few tones to create a great piece but at the same time it deserves a lot of respect and patience. The neo traditional guys can tell you that but I feel that B & G should be learnt by all artists regardless of specialty because if you can grasp and master the basics, you will do nothing but improve in all other areas of tattooing.
To date, which tattoo has been your best creation?
That is a really difficult one and I’m sure every artist would say the same thing but I have a good few favourites. If I had to pick one it would probably be a portrait I did on my friend James Taylor. The piece was inspired by a UK artist “Aking” who is able to portray a lot of emotion and depth into a piece. It is a bit more of a dark style and some might say it is a bit intense but probably one of the most beautiful pieces I have done to date.
Which tattoo artists do you feel are at the top of the game at the moment?
I could go on about this forever but I’m sure no one wants to read a huge list of names, but here are my tops:
Steve Butcher – Colour realism.
Dmitriy Samohin – Colour realism.
Thomas Carli Jarlier – B&G Realism.
Anrijs Straume – Dark B&G Realism.
When not tattooing or busy in the shop, what can you normally be found doing?
I spend a lot of time with the people close to me, so you could find me out at the local watering hole (Molly Malones) or anywhere in Pineslopes. Other than that I love festivals and concerts, so if you know there will be a moshpit chances are I am dead centre. On a more personal side, when I’m by myself I enjoy staying at home playing games and spending some time with my three huskies.
What advise would you give someone looking to get tattooed?
With anything in life make sure you do your research and make sure that whatever you get is for you and not anyone else, because at the end of the day you have to live with your tattoo. Also, when going to see your artist allow them to give you advice on your design. After all we have chosen to do this every day and we want nothing but the best for you.
For anyone wanting to make a booking with you, what is the next step?
If you would like to make a booking with me you are more than welcome to find me on social media or get my contact details from my website. You can also WhatsApp me for a quote or booking.
Tattoos by Joey Sasso
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.