Inkerviews > Fine Artists > Jon Hoffman Interview


Inkerviews features the work of tattoo artists and collectors, as well as fine artists, in a series of interviews. With an exciting lineup already in place and endless more to come, I hope you will check back often to read about these incredible people and enjoy their visually stunning talents.

As you might be aware, the tagline for my site is “Learn, Think, Inspire,” so I greatly appreciate when I meet others who embrace the importance of such elements; and when it comes in the form of artwork, well, it’s like icing on the cupcake.

Enter Jon Hoffman; a painter extraordinaire who I have been lucky enough to know and enjoy the imaginative work of. Jon is one of those excellent combinations of talent, positivity, and generosity. I always find it so inspiring when you encounter such a person, who is just as impressive of a person as they are a talent.

Hoffman blends very unique elements into his work, one of which is the common theme of the brain in all its glory. His art delves into the state of our minds and studies the ideas we each employ to create and become “who we are.” I find it to be a very interesting concept and one in which each person can examine Jon’s work and take away different essential features and meanings to apply to their own lives and minds.

It was such a pleasure talking with this ultra-cool and kind guy and learn a bit more about what makes him tick. I hope you enjoy this fun journey through the Innovative World of Jon Hoffman. From paintbrush to psyche; from creativity to character…this artist grasps so much of what really matters in life. Enjoy!

When you were young, did you envision yourself growing up and becoming an artist for a living? Were you always creative?

I have always wanted to become a good artist. I really didn't think I'd make a living at it. I've always had a really strong desire to become better. For me, art is not something I just create to sell, it's a way of connecting to who I feel I really am and to progress as an individual.

I have always had a passion for art and creating things. My biggest influences came from watching movies like The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth and Time Bandits, this is just to name a few. But I thank my mom for introducing me to these kind of films and stories.

How did you learn to draw and paint? Were you formally trained?

I'm self-taught for the most part, through viewing and having complete respect for the lighting, shadow, colors and dimensions of the object I was looking at. Over time, I came up with a saying for myself:

"All the instructions are there, just follow them." 

I would study an object and draw it over and over again, until I got it to look as close to the object as possible. I've also learn from studying other artists’ work and then trying to repeat their processes, along with picking up tips and tricks.

When you sit down to create, where do you draw your inspiration from?

When I 'm working on personal projects my inspiration comes from truths about who and what we're made of. My painting may not always be so well-read, but they are very deep expressions about our states-of-mind and the conditioning we go through, or allow ourselves to go through.

Your work often incorporates the usage of brains. Can you give us some insight into the symbolism behind this cool theme?

Pretty much goes along with question #3 - state of mind. And to sum up my idea of what we really are and the lack of attention to what we feed our minds, which creates who and what we are. If that makes any sense? :)

All-in-all, it's pretty much a symbol to remind myself to be more aware. Strange, I know. :)

What are your favorite mediums to work with and types of paint that you prefer to use?

Right now, I have really enjoyed working with acrylics and am now working to get into oils. I have used many tools to create artwork, including the airbrush, which is a really awesome tool once you figure out how to work with it.

Who inspires you in the art world?

I have three names that have always stood out in my mind: Jesse Smith, Greg "Craola" Simkins, and Guy Aitchison.

You are also a tattoo artist. Can you tell us about your apprenticeship?

I'm not quite there yet. It's been a tough road getting into the tattooing biz. I do have a little over a year under my belt though. It's been hard trying to find the right place for me.

I started tattooing in my dad's shop, Barking Dog Tattooz, in Gulfport, Mississippi. He's been tattooing for over 30 years. But we didn't see things eye-to-eye at the time, so I moved back up to Missouri with my wife and two boys. I took a few months to myself then found a tattoo shop here, where I was trying to finish up my apprenticeship to become a fully-licensed artist.

But over time, the guy I was apprenticing under was starting to make it really clear that he didn't want me there, because he thought I was going to take money out of his mouth; so every day he started treating me worse and worse, until the owner said it would be best if I looked into another shop, because he didn't want me to be at risk of getting hurt by the other artist. He pretty much told me that if I had a license he would fire the other guy. So now I'm looking for a shop to continue tattooing at. Also hoping to find a great place that's conducive to creativity and growth.

What are your goals in respect to tattooing and what types of pieces do you prefer working on?

My goal in tattooing is to become better at it. What I respect most about working in a tattoo shop is the connection you can achieve with a client - it seem to have a greater purpose. It's not only a tattoo you're putting on someone, you're changing something about them - adding to who they are. This is why I stress the notion of getting better at it. I understand that we all have to pay the bills, but is it worth wrecking someone’s skin for an easy buck or putting fear in them just so you can take whatever is in their pockets?

Do you find that your painting has helped your tattooing (and vice-versa)?

Actually, tattooing is the reason I started painting again. Before I started tattooing I was doing caricatures and airbrush work, which was all very fast-paced. I needed to slow down a bit so I could process things better while tattooing on skin, because if I didn't take my time with a tattoo I could have missed a lot of little details.

Where can one buy one of your paintings? Do you do custom work?

To buy my work you can contact me at I can do anything from caricatures to realism.

Do you have any art shows coming up?      

As of right now, I do not have any shows coming up, but I am looking into some galleries in Springfield, MO.

What one word best describes you?    

Outlandish, I like that word better then odd or bizarre.

What one word best describes your art?     

The same: Outlandish.

What is your favorite sweet treat?      

Gummy Bears. But I know you like cupcakes, so how about cupcakes with Gummy Bears on them. :)

Check out more of Jon's fantastic work here, here, or here .


Last updated on June 17, 2010 by Jinxi Boo