I am everything they hate about the industry.... / by Justin Nordine


It’s true. I embody much of what the industry hates about the direction that tattooing has gone. For the past 10 years, I have fought my way to do the style I had wanted, to be my own artist, do my own thing and move in my own direction. My style, poorly called “watercolor” was once said to be a “trendy style that will fade” has become a widely sought out style that has taken on many forms. If done correctly, it will hold and is often sought out by many that are looking for a tattoo but beyond the traditional norms of tattoo designs..

I never set out to be different or do anything that would get me recognition. I sought out the ability to design and create unique ideas. Use my art as a global language. I happen to get that opportunity in the form of tattoos. Tattooing has been around for a very, very long time. It has seen its rise and fall of popularity, but nothing like it has within the past 10-15 years. We are now seeing just about everyone getting a tattoo and wearing them proudly. It has moved from an underground culture to a modern phenomenon. From reality tv, to tattoo shops looking more and more like high end salons. I think when you present something different to a culture that doesn’t like change, it challenges them to the core. And not taking anything away from them, but change can be hard to accept at times.

I have had some people ask, “Why did you do Ink Master? You already have a great following” and my response has been is that I went on Ink Master to showcase the other side of tattooing. Us nerdy art kids that don’t really fit the mold of traditional tattooing groups, who may have gone to art school, who were president of the school art club (hint hint),and have a different view of the body and tattoos. I took a chance to use that as a way to share more objective ideas for the watching public. Not necessarily what has been typical. In addition, I wanted a platform to discuss openly about mental health as well as be put in challenging situations that ultimately will help me grow as an artist. I wanted to share the joy I have found in this industry and for those of us that don’t “fit” what is typically seen.

So when I say, “I am everything they hate about the industry”, it’s true. Its not a bad thing! In fact, I think over the years, especially the beginning of my career, it was something that kept me going, something to prove to myself. As someone who chooses not to conform, challenge the norm and paved my own path as an artist, I say “fuck it” be the ones they hate. Challenge them. Be able to hold your own and do it because you love it. Not for the fame. Not for the fortune or the followers and groupies. Do it because you want to speak to the world through your passion, because it’s you at the very core. It’s ok for them to hate you, you’re better because you are different. And being different makes the world a much more interesting place.

Much Love.