Artist transforms art into tattoos
Friday, October 25th, 2013
Issue 43, Volume 17.
While at this apprenticeship he watched other artists tattoo and he continuously drew. He ended up learning how to translate art to tattoos.
Wittenberg is now a tattoo artist at Sea Hag Tattoo Parlour in Temecula and has been tattooing for 11 years. He also earned a spot as a Top 5 San Diego tattoo artist in 2009 and 2010, according to Sea Hag’s website.
Tattoos are a portable way to get art and people can wear it all the time, said Wittenberg, also known as "Grizzly Joe".
Tattoos are also a way of expression.
"You can see someone’s tattoo and guess a good indicator about what they’re about, and what they’re into," he said. "I just think it’s beautiful."
Tattoos are a way to modify the body, he said, and alter the way people picture themselves.
Nature has been a great inspiration to Wittenberg’s artistic style, both in tattooing and painting.
"Everything is pretty organic looking, very flowy and kind of bold," he said.
One artist in particular that has been an influence to Wittenberg is Czech Art Nouveau artist Alfonse Mucha. His style can best be described to have rounded shapes, clean and dark lines which help to make the image look more graphic. Mucha is mostly known for his organic shapes, flower shapes, curves and swirls.
It would seem natural that Wittenberg’s style is inspired by nature because he spends a lot of his free time outdoors, such as going hiking and camping.
Wittenberg also spends a lot of time with his family, who reside in Aguanga. He has a wife, Rachel, who was describedby Sea Hag Shop Owner Eva Phoenix as a "gorgeous blond hippie chick." They have two children, Liam, 3; and Ariel, 4 months; she described them as the "most adorable red headed children."
"He’s a family guy, family is important to him. I think that comes across to people," Phoenix said.
Wittenberg worked for Phoenix six years ago in Escondido, until Phoenix moved to the Netherlands for five years. When she came back she told Wittenberg she was opening a shop in Temecula, which he said is closer to home for him.
"She was by far the best person that I’ve worked for," he said.
Wittenberg has seen his fair share of strange tattoos. He once tattooed an okra on a girl’s arm. He also said he has a client who has a lot of weird tattoos including frogs shaking hands, and "weird little dolls."
"It’s pretty interesting," he said. "People will come in and they’ll explain why they’re getting the tattoos. You get to hear these weird stories."
What sets Wittenberg apart from other tattoo artists is that he has his own unique style, said Phoenix.
"A lot of people don’t have a style... It’s kind of Art Nouveau, we call it hippie art," she said.
He can still do a traditional tattoo, though.
Phoenix described Wittenberg as an easy going, friendly guy.
"He’s a likeable person. I think it’s because he talks to people and he engages them," she said.
For people who have gotten their first tattoo by Wittenberg, Phoenix said this sets them as ease.
"It’s really important to feel comfortable with the person who is going to put something permanent on your body, and I always felt good vibes from Joe," said a reviewer of Wittenberg on Yelp.
Wittenberg can be found at Sea Hag Tattoo Parlour, located at 31285 Temecula Valley Pkwy., and can be reached at (951) 302-8282.
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