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Conversations with Joseph Maye

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joseph Maye.

Hi Joseph, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started drawing at a very young age, finding myself to be inspired by comic books and television cartoons. That inspiration lasted into my high school years when I started taking art classes. I was too young and too distracted to give my artistic development the attention it deserved.

Upon graduation in 1993, I joined the military and served for 6 years. I started collecting tattoos during most of my travels. The drive that the military had instilled in me along with my fascination with this art form pushed me to pursue a career in tattooing.

I gained an apprenticeship in 1999 at a shop in Kingsport, TN and my tattoo career was off and running. I continued to tattoo for the next 13 years in a few shops across the state. In 2011, I obtained my Bachelor of Art from King University. Then, in 2012, I made the leap to open my own Tattoo studio.

I currently own Now or Never Gallery in Kingsport and work alongside 7 other fantastic artists. During the lifespan of Now or Never, I have broadened my artistic ventures into mural/ graffiti work, graphic design, and small-scale sculpture.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I wouldn’t say that it has been tough but I believe that no journey worth making is without its struggles. More of my struggles come from within. Questions of worth, originality, and meaning are common in all of my art practices.

In the last few years, I have also separated myself from all social media in order to avoid distraction and outside influence in my work. I yearn to develop and fine-tune a style of my own from all I have known and loved up until this point in my life.

Although, being detached from the technological world we live in now can also have its downfalls. It definitely makes it harder to get your work into the world. There is always a balance that needs to be made. Relying strictly on my website has been my way to have a platform without falling into the pitfalls of social media.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in many forms of art. I guess the main would be tattooing. It is my “Job” I suppose. It pays the bills and has supported me for 2 decades now.

I also have done a number of murals over the last few years honing my skills with spray cans. But yet, I am most proud of developing myself as a painter. I started mainly in oils but developed a new love for acrylics and started to develop a style I could call my own.

My paintings over the last year or two are rooted in cubism but also inspired by illustration and realism. I push myself to move away from tattooing when painting and keep those two styles separate. I hope that my painting style and content are what sets me apart from others.

The most difficult struggle is to make something recognizable as YOURS to someone else.

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