21 Questions: Joel D. Long

Joel D. Long is a local Boulder tattoo and fine artist, heavily influenced by traditional Japanese and American styles. Joel often works on “suits”, intricate full body tattoos, usually stretching from the neck to just above the knee. The process takes some serious patience, attention to detail, and artistic vision. Naturally, we were excited to pick his brain.

Joel’s “Neurowave Maze” show will debut Saturday, January 9th, in the madelife white wall gallery and will consist of a selection of water color paintings on paper and traditional scrolls.


 1. Tell us who you are in one sentence.

Not the dumbest guy but workin’ on getting smarter.

Joel Tattoo-13

2. What were you like as a kid?

Creative and Rambunctious.

3.  What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever painted or tattooed?

I tattoo weird people all the time, well really just people that aren’t like everyone else.

4.  How did you get started painting and tattooing and which happened first?

I got equipment and just went to town after studying a little bit. Painting came first but I got a lot better at painting through tattooing.


5.  What originally attracted you to Japanese traditional work?

Probably Tattoo Times- a publication by Ed Hardy.

6.  Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?



7.  Where do you go or what do you do to get inspired?

I look at nature, books and anything that’s around me.

8.  What’s the best part about being an artist?


Joel Tattoo-7

9.  Describe the setting of where a piece of your art will be in the year 3001.

In the basement of an eccentric hermit, hopefully.

10.  Do you collaborate with other artists and if so, what is that like?

Sometimes, if you work well together then it can be nice.


11.  You get one super-hero power, what is it?


12.  What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?

Dexterity and better eating habits.

13.  What is the last piece of art you purchased?

Japanese scroll of a hawk, from the Meiji Era (1868-1912)

14.What plays on your stereo?

So many different things, Black Sabbath, Blind Willie McTell, South East Asian Psych Rock, etc.

Joel Tattoo-4

15.Coffee or Tea? Tequila or Whisky?

Coffee and Tea, and neither (anymore)

16.  What is the best piece of advice you ever got?

Future is as blurry as the past.

17.  How does culture affect art?

If often reflects the time we live in with mirrors from the past.

18.  Which artist do you think has influenced you the most? 

In tattooing, probably Chris Trevino.


19.  What is it that makes you keep making art everyday?

Discover new things and ways to paint.

20.  What is your theme song?

One I don’t know the words to.

21.  Are you superstitious? 

Not really, just a little paranoid.


. . .

Be sure to join us for the opening reception for “Neurowave Maze” on Second Saturday January 9th 6-9pm.

photos by Ladd Forde

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