Steve Bio

I Decided to Tattoo…

Aesthetics vary, culturally. Some presented through sacred totems, some through designs in the sand, and others become a bit more transportable. Such as the traditional Dot Motif found in the Australian aboriginals. A tradition dating back to before humans were painting on walls in French caves. Historically, body art has played a major role in human culture. The ability to present one’s self as different, “to stick out in the crowd.” Not to camouflage the body, or to protect against the elements. Rather, to present one’s self as beautiful; moreover, beautiful in the eyes of the culture, present a means of status, and to be noticed for the personal expression. This manner of thought is not how this artist’s career began; however, it is where this artist now rests his roots in the tattoo arts.

I became a professional artist and educator. I decided to tattoo, however, it wasn’t until I began showing my paintings in galleries and juried shows that I realized the impact tattoos have in comparison to paintings. While working on my Bachelors one of my professors told me that any reaction is better than no reaction at all. Meaning, no matter if a patron of the arts expresses their like or dislike about your work, it is a reaction. They still took the time out of their day to say something about the work. My two-dimensional paintings and drawings are examples of my need to stress the conservative western ideology of normalcy. I use a touch of naturalism, mostly using some sort of the human form to help allow the viewer to relate. A lot of movement and contrasting hues offer the viewer a means to follow the piece and more importantly to trap them in the work of art. However, I do not want the viewer to get an “easy read.” I want the viewer to be trapped in a work of art, not letting them leave the picture plane. I attempt to do this in all my work, tattoos, paintings, and drawings. If the viewer cannot leave the work, then the message will be read, and meaning will eventually be understood. For example, even when tattooing a photo-realistic portrait, I always try to kick up the contrast, and over exaggerate some features to help trap the audience in the face. I mean, on average most people only look at a portrait for 13 seconds, anyway. So I have to do something to make the piece speak, because a portrait is more than just a face! Color, value, space, and emphasis is how I typically go about my creations. I love the smiles, and the questions marks from those that just don’t get it. Any reaction is a good reaction.
Showing a painting in a juried show is extremely interesting, one may sell a painting, a few prints of the piece. Most of the time, the folks really enjoy looking, but don’t particularly want to live with the piece, forever. The painting could be too large, too small, doesn’t match the colors in the home, or content (message) of the piece may be a bit too eccentric. When a piece does sell, the artist really doesn’t know where the piece goes, or how many people really get to enjoy the visual creation. I mean, I have an idea who has my paintings in their personal collections, but I’ve never been to their house. In contrast to a painting, a tattoo is a bit more literal. When a client walks in the door of the shop, they have an idea of subjects they want to see in their pieces. However, they really have no idea what I am going to draw up. I try to stay true to my stylistic mannerisms, and the clients understand. Many of my clients come to me with a paragraph from a piece of literature, some only one word and trust me to make it into something for them! Not for anyone else. In most instances, the client will receive the sketch of the tattoo to take with them, because I will never tattoo that exact piece, again. I love the challenge of making each piece unique, and I feel as though it helps that the client gets an original design, not one from the first Google search page. Can we say artistic integrity? Not artistic license to steal. Nevertheless, that tattoo will be with the person forever. The person cannot just take the art off of them, such like a painting on the wall. Every time one is out, the tattoo will be seen. If it is a private tattoo, every time one looks in the mirror, it will be seen. It is always there, ages with the host, and dies with the host. Let’s think for a moment. How many pictures do you have on your home wall? Do you look at them every day? Do you take them with you every day? Even if they don’t match the color scheme you’re wearing that day? Even if a tattoo is removed, there will still be a lasting impression on the skin where it once was, and the memory of that tattoo will live in the mind of the client. Does a painting really have the same effect? To artsy fartsy people such as myself, they do, but to most it does not.
In recent months my life has changed drastically. I’m 6 credits from completing my Graduate degree. My awesome Wife, two beautiful children, and I moved back to Florida in early May of 2015. I took ownership of Hurricane tattoo and piercing, the first tattoo shop I ever worked in. Now called Modern Moose Studios, and have surrounded myself with humble artists to take this journey with me. Decided to walk away from art education, and finally become a working artist. Tattooing and owning the first shop I ever worked in is a bit surreal, even though everything has been changed. This is the place where my professional tattoo career began, and this is where I get to make it bigger and better than ever. Anything worth having definitely comes with hard work. I am no stranger to that, many more late nights in my future. However, all comes with gratitude to those who are willing to take the chance of wearing a piece that represents the personal aesthetic. There is no telling where my work will go, or what new techniques I will begin to experiment. Nevertheless, I do know, I decided to tattoo.

Steven W. Johnson
Tattooist/Owner
Modern Moose Studios
7134 State Road 54
NPR, 34653


Curriculum Vitae

Education:
M.A.E, Art Education K-12, University of Nebraska at Kearney, 2012
Concentrations: Art Education, painting

B.A., Art Education K-12 Licensure, Western State Colorado University, 2010
Concentrations: Ceramics, Art Education, Painting

Professional Tattoo Experience:

Tattoo Artist and Owner, June 2015-Present
Modern Moose Studios
New Port Richey, FL

Tattoo Artist
Main Street Studio Tattoo, July 2014-May 2015
Mauldin, SC

Tattoo Artist
Artistic Ink, August 2013-July 2014
Anderson, SC

Tattoo Artist
Cherry Bomb Tattoo, 2013
New Port Richey, FL

Tattoo Artist
Hurricane Tattoo and Piercing, 2009-2013

Teaching Experience:

Visual Arts Instructor, 2014-2015
Palmetto High School
2D and 3D design


Visual Art Consortium Instructor, Summer 2014
Southwood Academy of the Arts, Grades 7-9
Courses: Gifted and Talented course in 3D-Design

Visual Arts Instructor, 2013-present
Pendleton Elementary school and Townville Elementary school, Grades K-6

Visual Arts Instructor, 2010-2013
Weeki Wachee High School, Grades 9-12
Courses: 3D Studio 1, 3D Studio 2, Portfolio III 3D-Design Honors, AP 3D Design Portfolio,
2D Studio 1, 2D Studio 2, Portfolio I Drawing Honors, Portfolio II 2D Design Honors, AP 2D Design Portfolio

Advanced Placement Visual Arts Instructor, 2012-2013
Weeki Wachee High School
Courses: AP 2D-Design Portfolio, AP 3D-Desing Portfolio

Visual Arts Instructor, 2010-2012
Weeki Wachee High School
Course: Adult education, Beginning and Advanced Techniques in hand building, thrown forms, and primitive firing techniques.

Visual Arts Instructor, 2010
Leepa Rattner museum of Modern Art
Course: Museum Educator, summer course in Modern concepts




Student Teaching, 2010
Seven Springs Middle School, grades 6-8
Courses- Beginning and Advanced hand building techniques, beginning and advanced drawing


Student Teaching, 2009
Longleaf Elementary School, Arts Magnet School, grades K-5
Courses- Elementary Education in ceramics and pottery

Student Awards and Honors:

Anderson Arts Center, 2014
Student Award:
6th grade: AnMed Collection Award

Reel Art State Competition, 2014
Student Awards:
K-3rd grade division: 1st place, out of 600 students from across South Carolina.
4th -6th grade division: Honorable Mention, out of over 300 students from across South Carolina.

Art in the Park, 2013
Student Awards:
AP/College Division: 1st place, 2rd place, Honorable Mention
High School Division: 1st place, 3rd place, Honorable Mention
3D Art Division: 1st place, 3rd place, Honorable Mention

Festival of Art, 2013
Student Awards:
1st place and 3rd place out of 200 2D and 3D pieces

Adult Education student, 2013 Art in the Park
2nd Place in crafts with hand built ceramic pieces.

Student and Faculty Gala, 2012
Student Awards:
1st place and 2nd place in student division

Art in the Park, 2012
Student Awards:
High School Division: 3rd place, Honorable Mention
3D art Division: 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, Honorable Mention

Fall Harvest of art, 2011
Student Awards:
Best of Show, out of 200 2D and 3D pieces

Hernando County Fine Arts Council, 2011
Excellence in Visual Arts Honor

Pasco County Fair art show, 2010
Middle School Division: Best in Show, 1st place, 7 Honorable Mentions


Professional Awards and Honors:

Anderson Arts Center, 2014
39th annual juried show

Special Recognition Award, 2013
Light Space and Time Open Exhibition, global competition

Belton Center for the Arts, 2013
15th annual juried show

Nominated teacher of the year, 2012
Weeki Wachee High School

Fall Harvest of art, 2011
Professional Division: Best of Show, Fine Art Category

Nominated teacher of the year, 2011
Weeki Wachee High School

Three-time Rocky Mountain Athletic All Conference All Academic Honors, 2009-2005
University of Nebraska at Kearney and Western State Colorado University

Division II Athletics Directors Association Academic award, 2007-2008

Captain of the Western State Colorado University football team, 2007-2008



Exhibition Record:

39th Annual Anderson Arts Center Juried Exhibition, 2014

Light Space & Time Global Online Exhibition, 2013

15th Annual Belton Center for the Arts Juried Exhibition, 2013

Festival of Art Juried Exhibition, 2013

Hernando County Senior and Faculty Gala, May 2012

Art In The Park, March 2012

Fall Harvest of Art, November 2012

Western State College BA Gala, May 2009