Interview with Jordan Dodge
When did the decision to pursue a tattoo apprenticeship start to form?
I have always had an interest in design. Straight after college I studied web design at university and when I left I started working for an independent men's fashion shop in Swansea, which I then ended up managing. My personal tastes in clothing have always been that of quality and timeless design. In fact, the reason I met one of my closest friends, Benjamin Phillips who co-owns Swansea Tattoo Company, was due to our common interest in certain denim brands. When Ben and his business partner Lee Hadfield opened Swansea Tattoo Company, the shop was producing tattoos on a different level compared to what I'd seen in the past. I started getting tattooed more and more and began to understand what makes a good tattoo in terms of design. I had always had a relationship with art, but around this time I found myself drawing more tattoo related images. One day while drawing at our home, my wife Ami looked at me and said “I need to teach you to tattoo.” It was something I could have only dreamt of doing previously, but she reassured me and gave me confidence that I generally lacked in what I was doing. It was Ami that gave me the push I needed to approach Lee and Ben about being able to get an apprenticeship.
When did you produce your first tattoo?
I did my first tattoo on my brother Curtis. It was a small skull on his ankle. It's still in there nice and solid! That was about 6 months into my apprenticeship. I remember thinking how massively different the whole process was compared to how I'd imagined it being. I knew it wasn't going to be easy in any way, but it's certainly not something that feels natural at all to begin with. I felt a little nervous beforehand, but was lucky to have my brother be the person I was doing it on. He was adamant he wanted my first ever tattoo no matter how it turned out.
Your tattoos are incredibly striking and bold, yet minimal in design. Where do you think your attraction to simplicity comes from?
I think the attraction comes from my appreciation of simplicity in general. Again, back to clothing and denim, I like my jeans to be extremely minimal and basic but built to last and look timeless. I carry this mindset throughout my life in terms of how I like things to be and look and I think that transfers across into my tattooing.
Your work has this "age-old" quality to it. Can you speak to the sense of history your designs hold?
I have a massive respect for tradition and the way things should be done. I love the timelessness of traditional tattooing and am heavily influenced by that side of things, however I like the fact that I can take things in a different direction and create a more graphic bold look and feel to my own tattoos using solid black.
You work alongside your talented wife Ami at Swansea Tattoo Company, how has having your partner tattoo by your side influenced what you do?
Having Ami at the studio has been fantastic for me. She is always available to help me and has taught me, in terms of the technical side of tattooing, everything I know. At the shop we work in separate areas, with Ami upstairs and myself planted downstairs so that we aren't constantly in each other’s face. I think space is very important, and an integral part of making it work for the both of us.
How do you see your work evolving?
At this point in time, I feel like I'm constantly learning and discovering new things, so I’m inspired daily. I feel I will always love solid, bold tattoos and am constantly trying new things with this foundation. I’m currently drawing a lot of influence from old, traditional work while trying to keep things current. Im not really sure what’s next for me. I just plan on continuing down the path I'm on, producing the best tattoos to my ability and taking in everything around me.
Interview by James Musker (@mirror.dash)
Jordan can be found on Instagram @jordtattoo and co-owns Blackwork Industries (@blackworkindustries).