Interview with Joseph Swider | New School Style | USA 04/04/2021

  Hello Joe Swider! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. My name is Joseph Swider and I’m the father of two awesome kids, Bradley and Scarlett. I;m engaged to their mom Courtney, the most beautiful, talented person I know. I’m from a small town in Ct called Hebron. I’ve been tattooing professionally for 0ver 20 years and I never really had any formal art training.

Q: How you got into tattooing? What type of art you do you like the most outside tattooing?
A: I didn’t really have any direction in life. I was living at my moms house and was 18. She told me I had to stop scratching on people in her living room and go and get an apprenticeship or get out. So I did. And 22 years later BAM! Here we are. I owe my whole career to her. She bought me my first equipment.

Q: What type of art you do you like the most outside tattooing?
A: I’m a huge fan of graffiti art and comic book art but I’ve never done either myself.

Q: Do you feel inspired by some artists?
A: Of course. Any artist that’s got a lot of skill is inspiring. That doesn't have to be a style that I like either, good tattoos are just good tattoos.

Q: Many people think that having talent is crucial for becoming a pro tattoo artist, but is it? How much time took you to get into a pro level, full time working artist?
A: Talent is not crucial for becoming anything. Just look at every president we've had in the last 20 years! Talent is crucial for those who want to be better than just run of the mill, If you want to be exceptional. I spent the first half of my career bouncing around flash shops and partying every night. It wasn't until about 10 years in that I decided to drop it all and focus on my art.

Q: What part of the journey of becoming a pro was the most difficult? Did you have any help?
A: Probably growing old in an ever evolving industry is the hardest. I feel like I've had to change with the times a lot. The art has completely changed in the last 22 years since I started. The standard is much higher. I'm always the only one using coil machines in a studio. I have to hear “Why is your machine so much louder than his?”

Q: Talking about standards, just getting a job as a beginner is a lot harder. The regulations, the requirements and the level of work is way higher than just in the past few years. I think the young people have a way more information but the requirements are a way higher to actually get a job. Do you agree?
A: Absolutely, I agree. But that's a good thing. You have to actually work for it now. Years ago any asshole could work in a shop. Now there’s so much you have to go through to get to that point it weeds out all the people that aren't serious.

Q: If you were a beginner today, what would be your approach? Apprenticeship, self taught?
A: Definitely I would do an apprenticeship with someone who knows what they are doing. Someone who still knows how to use a coil machine. I feel like that's a huge part of this art that most new artists don't get to try. It's frustrating to use one if you don't know how. So people give up.

Q: New school! Ah I love that style. It's like an upgrade to the old school, but a way more freeing and comical. What do you like the most about this style?
A: I like new school because there's no set way to do it. All the other styles are very cut and dry, very formatted. There's a new style of new school every time a new artist pops up outa nowhere and they are all so different.

Q: Are you planning to experiment with some other styles? I think it's easier when you have the talent and right clientele who doesn't afraid to ask for some crazy designs. You can have the perfect work flow and express your creativity, right?
A: Yeah! Definitely. I am always being asked to do stuff outside my comfort zone. I do my best to not turn anyone down for anything. It's nice when someone asks for the perfect design that makes you super excited to get going on it.

Q: Do you have any favorite tattoo you did lately? Or a tattoo that you consider as somewhat creative upgrade? Like omg, that sleeve tattoo took me 6 hours, but it's one of the best, most challenging tattoos I did so far?
A: My favorite recent tattoo has to be the new school portrait I did of a client's brother that had Down syndrome and he had past. He originally asked for just a portrait but I suck at realism so I suggested something more new school. He loved it. I don’t get to do a lot of human portraits so it stuck with me.

Q: I've seen many politicians, villains even dictators as a tattoo design in this style. Hilarious! If this style was a human, it would have been a comedian! Do you accept all the requests, or there was a case when you turned down someone? Like is there any red line? Hah!
A: No, no red line really. I feel like anything can be turned into a good tattoo with the right perspective on it.

Q: What are some of the funniest stories that they told you about their tattoo?
A: Once I had a couple come in to get matching tattoos and halfway through the tattoo the lady told me she was married but not to him. The tattoos said “sssshhhh”. Not sure if that's funny or just messed up, you decide.

Q: Who decides about the color scheme? You, the clients?
A: I try to let the client point me in a general direction then I take it from there. The average person doesn't even know what color theory is. It's our job to take the reins and use the knowledge we have, to make the best color choices for their tattoos.

Q: Recently, there was announcement from the EU that blue 16 and green 8 will be removed and most likely that will be a global ban. Unfortunately. What's your opinion? Do you feel like we need to fight back tattoo acceptance again?
A: I don’t know all the facts about why they are doing this but if these pigments are harming people yeah of course we should look for a better option. But that being said, I put blue in most of the tattoos I do so I would probably end up a black and grey artist if they take away a third of my palette. And that’s not even a joke. I will go black and grey if they take those colors out cuz that would be my best option.

Q: We live in very weird, uncertain times during covid. Many are out of work, or barely coping. How are you? How is the studio work flow? Are you available for bookings? If so, please write down your contact info.
A: we’ve managed to stay busy after the shutdown ended. If someone wants to book an appointment with me now, the wait is only few months. For bookings please email me at

Q: As a professional artist, what would you reccomend to all of those people who want to try getting into tattooing?
A: If you are interested in becoming a tattoo artist find someone with a lot of talent and experience and learn as much as you can from them, but don’t stop there. Keep learning from every artist you can. Be open to trying new techniques and ideas. Don't ever stop learning. Even beginner artists teach me new things I never thought of.

Kind Regards
The Team