ALL OR NOTHING TATTOO: Joe Waulken
Joe Waulken Interview
By Tattoo Masters Magazine UK
Describe yourself in 140 characters twitter style.
I wanted to start tattooing so I could travel the world. Now I pretty much live all over the world, one way or another. If I am not at All or Nothing in Atlanta, there is really no telling where I am. I love my kids.
How long have you been tattooing?
- About Eleven years now.
How long have you been with ALL OR NOTHING?
-Six years or so.
Where DID you live before coming to Atlanta?
In Miami, Florida. Before that one show moved into town...notice how I said show and not shop. The original "Tattoo TV" show was pitched to several prominent shop owners, Brandon being one of the first. He declined, and recommended this small shop I was working in, and a studio from Vegas called "Hart and Huntington" from his days of being out in Vegas. He told the producers a show would work better in a tourist environment than a high end tattoo studio. John Huntington, Chris Garver, Kat Von D, Brandon, Hannah Aitchison, Pixie, Zeke Owen, Paul Booth, Bob Tyrrell, and I were friends or aquantances from way back. Seems like people forget that Brandon, Dave, and I are all from Florida, and Brandon spent a lot of time tattooing in Vegas and LA. We had all known each other for a while. "Miami Ink" was born, as was "Inked" and later "LA Ink" and I bolted, up to Atlanta where it was safe from the retardation. Those shows were terrible, a cancer on tattooing, and very few people realize that we dodged that bullet right out of the gate. We are not overexposed, we are actually underexposed compared to what almost happened. No disrespect to my friends that did the shows, hell, Brandon and Bob Tyrrell even did multiple cameos, but it was NOT for me! No rock stars here, I just like to do tattoos, simple and clean. And get with freaky chicks that don't speak English to good.
How did you come to ALL OR NOTHING, tell us the story!?!
I was very good friends with Brandon Bond. I had to leave the shop I was at because film crews were coming. One day while I was visiting him, he asked me if I would come work for him. At first I said no, but he has a way of changing your mind. Especially while he is holding a machete. So I have been here ever since sporadically, rarely even, but consistently. Best thing I ever did was start tattooing in Atlanta.
What is your favorite type of tattooing to do?
Everything. I especially love tribal, kanji, butterflies, skin rips, American Flags, Celtic knots, and names. OH I love doing small quick stuff, no ego here. If it is a tattoo and you have money, then it is my favorite tattoo to do.
What machines do you use? How many do you set up for a substantial session?
I use anywhere from 1 machine to 18 machines in one tiny tattoo. I sometimes will use over 20 different needle set ups. It drives the guys at the shop nuts. I'm OCD for sure, same with chickens, can't stop eating them.
What type of needles & groupings do you prefer? How did you come to
start using them?
This underground company in Africa. Each needle is blessed by a witch doctor. I was in Africa tattooing and was turned onto them by the locals. They are truly the best I have ever used. They are cheap too, because of slave labor and blood diamonds. I love Africa, we just had a Film premiere in South Africa for "Vicktory to the Underdog". It was a blast. I was the only guy from the shop that flew over though, but it was wall to wall crowded standing room only.
Is Brandon really a psychopath to work for?
Yes! The rumors are true! He eats babies and f*cks midgets every single morning while he cuts himself to pictures OF himself on Twitter.
What has changed about your tattooing since you first walked in the front door of ALL OR NOTHING?
I am the weakest natural artist at the shop, I am the underdog, I do the stuff they don't have time to do because they are busy getting a million chicks on their yachts and sh*t. Just kidding, the truth is, I am learning every single trip to the shop, they are constantly better than me.
Everyone that comes arrives at different times, so the list of artists
is always in flux. Who have YOU worked with, gotten tattooed by, met
or gotten to watch work since coming to ALL OR NOTHING? And how did
any of that affect you and your art.
I have met almost every tattooist that has walked in the doors since I have been here. And have been tattooed by over half of them. I have tattooed most of them.
What other type of art do you produce? Paintings, video, flash, graphics etc?
Tattoos, watercolors, scrap booking.... and finger paints with my insane twin boys named "Dave" and "Brandon".
How has your LIFE been changed since coming?
I have not really been in one place since starting here so everything has changed but my sexuality, which is still 100% straight contrary to the rumors... The fact that we can all travel all we want here is amazing, no shop on earth makes it so you don't have to ever mop, wipe, wrap, carry trash, or anything! It's paradise. I only tattoo at the shop a few weeks a year these days cause my children are scattered everywhere BUT Atlanta, GA..
Was there ever a time when you realized you had figured this out or
had an "art epiphany" about your own growth as a tattooist?
Yeah, I guess when I tattooed Gung-Ho of GI-Joe for Hasbro. I figured out that I can do anything if I can tattoo the world's biggest small chest tattoo. It was a super hard cover-up. I think I nailed it.
What kind of inks do you use?
I like Waverly ink a lot and H20cean for healing!
What is it like to work with so many artists from all over every day?
I can't begin to express how much these guys have influenced EVERY TATTOO in my portfolio, it is almost like I'm just copying their work poorly. I work in the most award winning, published, world famous tattoo parlor on the planet, and can come and go as I please, just like everyone else at ALL OR NOTHING. What is not to like? I feel like a superhero every morning.
What types of tattoos would you LIKE to do?
Like I said, it doesn't matter to me. You want a name, you got it. You want a lower back tattoo, you got it. You want any tattoo at all, you got it. I dig on sweet blue collar workin' man's tattys and that is all I want to do, ever. Maybe more tribal though, I love that sh*t. Huge sleeves, back pieces, body suits, legs engulfed in BLACK TRIBAL. Ohhhh so good.
Tell me about your kids (if you've got any?)
I have 7 beautiful children from 4 gorgeous women, and I love them ALL more than anything! I have a black set of twin boys (South Africa), named after Brandon and Dave, a Korean little girl named Nicole, a Hispanic young man named Pablo, and a slew of little white ones named after gun manufacturers (Remington, Ruger, and Kimber). My white "baby mama" is ironically the most fertile. All 3 of hers were total accidents! But we are also expecting another in early 2011! Due to my constant travelling, I just send them all my money from everywhere and only keep enough to survive on. We have a GREAT setup. When daddy is in town it is PARTY TIME, with the kids and the mama's! Buuyaaah!
What do you love about tattooing the most?
The traveling and the freedom. I am a nomad with a bad attitude and no talent, yet I can go anywhere I want and people pay me a lot of currency. I tattoo a lot of bands too, and I love music. Slayer, Hatebreed, Slipknot, etc are my favorite bands, the fact that I got to hang out and tattoo them and their tour crews was an honor. And the shop I call home... is one of the best parts. Say what you want about ALL OR NOTHING, but Im in Tattoo Vallhalla every time I come to town and every time I leave with a new bag of tricks to bite on.