Ornamental mandala genius, John Garancheski III started tattooing at a young age. Fifteen years later, he’s made a name in the industry as one of the best geometric tattoo artists out there.
Growing up, John was always a creative and curious individual. He’d make things, or take things apart only to put them back together. He’d find interesting to learn how things worked. While he was still a high school student, for elective classes, he’d pick the ones within the creative field like photography, visual arts, art history and so on. Most creative beings tend to lean towards anything artsy, am I right?
We met with John recently and started our conversation by asking him the best piece of advice he’s received, which he responded “Oh man. I’ve had so many. I think back to when… [long pause]… that’s tough. When I was entering the workforce, I remember working at the concession stands of a movie theater. I was going out of the house one day, and my shirt wasn’t pressed. My dad was like: WTF are you doing? You look like a slob. My dad always pushed a hard working ethic on me. He wouldn’t let me get away with anything.
I remember one specific conversation where I said “Dad, I serve popcorn, give me a break about my shirt”. He said “you’re serving concessions to every body who lives in the town. You never know when you’re gonna be serving popcorn to your next employer”. I didn’t really get it right away, but it turned something on in me. The whole idea is that you’re always auditioning for your next role. You’re always making impressions on people and always telling people who you are.”
The Start of Something New
After high school, John’s parents wanted him to go to College and get a real job (like every parent!), but he had no specific direction and didn’t know what he wanted to do. The only thing he was certain of, was that he wanted to work in the creative field. So, to Fine Arts School he went.
During the time he was in College, he took a Black and White photography class which led him into the tattoo shop where he started his apprenticeship. He fell in love with those tattooers’ lifestyle and decided that would be a great art field to be in. At the end of his second semester he quit school to start tattooing full time.
In the 16 years he’s been tattooing, John has done a little of everything. When he started, he took whatever came through the shop’s door. During this exploratory phase when he didn’t yet have defined style, it allowed him to be very versatile. He flirted with full color realistic designs and for many years, he didn’t even do any black and grey work at all. He started with realism without much line work which is the opposite of what he does today.
Mastering Different Styles
Over the years, John started introducing more graphic elements into his styles and designs. Realizing he wanted to do bolder and more dramatic drawings, he started bringing in more lines and turned those drawings into an illustrative style. He eventually got away from photo realism to favor doing something with more contrast. Focusing on different genres helped John master many styles. Whenever he’d get bored, he would move on to the next. He often asked himself how he could improve, and how he could add some complexity to his drawings.
John explained to us here at Inked Cartel that his personal and professional lives mirror each other in many ways. In the past he describes his work as an angrier version of himself. While now, more mature, married, with kids, his work evolved into something more floral, flowy and geometric.
When John finally got to black and grey line work, he was starting to live more minimalistic in his personal life. He literally got rid of anything that he didn’t need. The idea of living simply, consuming less, doing more with less seemed fascinating. That fueled his new style. It wasn’t something conscious however, it simply happened.
Influenced by the simplicity of his life at the time, John’s flower designs started re-shaping when he started applying more lines into his work, adding more line detail, using shades of black and grey ink, and suddenly his new found passion, ornamental mandalas and geometric designs emerged.
Yearly, John puts out a series of mandalas. He explains “I was very busy with larger projects and stopped doing hourly work and started charging day rates. When I made the switch, I ended up cutting a lot of people off my clientele and many people were like ‘I love your work but I can’t afford it’. That’s why I created a series of pre-drawn mandalas that I could put out there for a fixed price“.
The first series was called Evening Mandalas because they would be done in the evenings after his daily sessions were over. These designs were sized so they could be completed in 2-3 hours. People could still get an original piece of work that wouldn’t be as time consuming as a custom piece. Earlier this year, John released the Growth Series inspired by growth and change in his personal life. Currently John is traveling all over the place and is only working with custom work. We are sure inspiration to create a new series will pop up soon.
About the Future
IC: What’s your Dream Project?
JG: I live it every single day! I’m doing my dream project and am literally living the dream. I worked hard over the years to be selective about the stuff I take on, to put a clear message to myself and my clients. I try really hard not to take on projects because it pays money, because it’s easy to just do work because of the money. I’ve tried hard take my free time to explore things I’m into and use that to influence my work.
Inked Cartel [IC]: Who would you want to collaborate with?
John Garancheski III [JG]: I’ve done collaboration work with people I’ve worked with in the past. Kinsey and I have a collaboration series right now, my line work with her watercolor. I am not a fan of artists with similar styles who collaborate together. Don’t get me wrong, making one seamless piece is beautiful, but I find it more fun when you can distinctly tell who did what on the piece. As for who I’d like to work with, I guess someone who I vibe with.
Who is John Garancheski III?
JG: Ugh…I don’t know. That’s a rough question. I’m so many things. I’m the universe! I mean we all are! We are all the things. This isn’t directly answering your question. In a world where you have elevator speeches, or 15 seconds to tell people what you’re all about, I don’t know what my pitch me is. I’m a dad, a husband, a tattooer.
I’d like to think I’m like a busy bee in a garden. I’ll go over here and be like ‘ohh that’s a pretty flower, I’m gonna molest that flower, pollenate that shit‘, whatever a bee does… and then go to the next one and might come back to that first flower.
John’s inspired by everything, even the subtleties of a paper bag! Everyone has an artist inside of them and we try to find beauty in the ordinary and most simple things in life. With that, we can all agree that John’s work shows emotional connection between he, his clients and that art piece. Check out some of John’s best work.