Interview with Jason Phillips

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been somewhat lax about making posts. Being on vacation from work, and previously having my brother in town, were the main culprits for this. However, making posts every night, after work, as lame as this sounds, can sometime be a little draining. With that said, my batteries are now recharged and I’m glad to be back with, what I feel is, a quality read.

While at the Roc City Tattoo Expo, I had the opportunity to meet  Jason Phillips. I had gone up to the FTW booth to talk to Aidan Monahan about our upcoming interview (I will be posting this interview, as well, very soon). As Aidan and I were discussing things for the interview, he stopped himself briefly to introduce me to Jason Phillips, both of whom tattoo at FTW Tattoo Parlour in Oakland, CA. Jason was very cordial and friendly, and, to my surprise, had some nice things to say about my blog. I was definitely taken aback by this,  and was quite surprised. I thanked him for his kind words and informed him that I enjoyed his work. We briefly chatted, and then Aidan and I finished up making our plans for later on in the convention.

Fast forward to the beginning of June, when I reached out to Jason and asked him to answer a few questions about his upcoming book of flash and paintings entitled The Perils of Expansion, which I had wrote about when I first read Jason’s post on his blog about it, and Jason agreed to appease me. Before we get into the interview, here’s some of Jason’s work:

I have to say I’m a pretty big fan of Jason’s panther heads. I’m also amazed with how well he can pull off both traditional Japanese and American tattoos. Thank you to Jason  for agreeing to answering my questions. Also, thanks to Aidan Monahan for introducing me to a really nice dude and great tattooer. Anyway, here’s the interview:

OED: What’s the concept behind your new book of flash and paintings, The Perils of Expansion?

JP: The book itself is just a seed I’m trying to plant for some new ideas I would like to be working on in the future. I started out putting together these drawings, that to me, were about the contrast of the intent and the actuality of the modern American empire, the bittersweet complications of unchecked growth. Most of the book is steady to that idea, however, I also included other sheets of flash and paintings that were more loosely related and done in the same time frame. Some are a little more abstractly related to expansion, some just to traditional American themes.

OED: How did you come up with the concept for this book?

JP: I started with the first drawing which was of Lincoln riding a Bison, the looming capital castling at his back. I had him riding a bison into the future providence of america like he was riding a ghost of the plains. The same ghost that was wholesale slaughtered to make way for the creeping will of the new america, hence the skull that sits atop the bisons head. Providence has a price in all epochs of history. The growth of one aspect of a society always displaces the existing players.

OED: What made you want to put this book together?

JP: I’m an obsessive workaholic. I don’t really work for any other motivation other than to work more. I’m restless and I endeavor to tattoo as much as I can in this lifetime. So, I paint more, to work more, to put out new ideas in the hopes they will produce more work. I produce books in this same aim. There is never enough work.

OED: How did you become interested in this topic?

JP: History. Comedy. Whip shading.

OED: Was there another topic that you had toyed with before settling in on Imperialism, Manifest Destiny?

JP: Not particularly, this was the idea right out of the gate. I think American history is ripe with figures and themes that have yet to be explored fully as tattoo models. I’d really like to work more on that. I have some other ideas that i thought of while I was making this little book, but I’m keeping them under wraps.

OED:What did you draw from for inspiration for some of the paintings?

JP: Living the constant confusion of modern America. That, and a whole slew of classic tattoos.

OED: Is this the first book that you’ve put out? If not, could you explain the others?

JP: I have one other book of flash i put together a couple of years back that were some of my favorite sheets of flash that I’ve painted over the last 10+ years. I started painting flash habitually in 1997 when I was starting to tattoo as a way to learn to tattoo, and have since endeavored to always be working on new sheets. I’ve always liked the classic model of tattooers who covered their shops in hand painted flash, so that has been my model. The flash I stared at for hours as a kid in the first shop I started getting tattooed in were like magic, and I’ve been trying these last 15 years to crack the code. I picked all of my first tattoos, which are to date some of my favorites, off of the wall of a biker shop in the 80s. I miss that aspect of tattooing; the impulse to want a tattoo, almost regardless of what it was, but just to want it, go in, and pick it out. I love our shop because we have tried really hard at FTW to stock the walls with flash; we love to keep that alive.

OED: Any painting in particular that was your favorite? Or, were there a few paintings that you really enjoyed over some of the others?

JP: I like all of them. If i had to pick one that would be my favorite, it would be Lincoln’s Providence, since it started the whole process, and for my money, sums up the whole spirit of the idea. Another favorite of mine was one of Henry David Thoreau with a mass of jets flying above his head with a growing skyline behind him and his signature phrase “simplify, simplify’. He is a model american to me.

OED: Have you been able to tattoo any of this flash yet? If not, any plans in the future to do so?

JP: I have tattooed the “No Lords” work as a back piece a few month back. But to date, that’s it. That’s another one of my favorites, because I thought it suggested the idea of the original aim of america, which is why the eye of providence has been moved to the lower tier of the pyramid-power to the people. I also recently began the ‘requiem on the plains’ painting on my friend Joes back, which I’m really excited to work on this year. I’d love to tattoo any of them, thats why I painted them.

OED: Anything you’d like to add?

JP: I’d like to say thanks for the interest. I enjoy the steady quality of your blog, and your efforts to promote people’s work .

And if anyone is interested in picking up a copy of the new book, you can get it from either myself via paypal at 40usd plus 5 shipping. Soon it will also be available through Last Gasp Press in San Francisco. My first book of Flash is available through myself, Last Gasp, and Kingpin Tattoo Supply, 50usd plus 5 shipping. Lastly, my work is available to see online at along with the work of my fellow daily cohorts.


I’ve linked you to Jason’s blog above, but if you missed it, make sure to check it out. Also, any folks on the West Coast, or if you’re planning on visiting California, stop into FTW Tattoo Parlour and get a quality tattoo from any one of the folks that tattoo there. Thanks for reading, folks.

About Our Endless Days

I am an avid traditional tattoo enthusiast that enjoys the rich culture, history, and art of tattoos. At this point in time, I'm slowly but surely adding to my tattoos.
This entry was posted in Interviews, Tattooers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Interview with Jason Phillips

  1. Pingback: Baghdads Batteries and other miscellaneous oopas aside…. « jasonphillipstattoo

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