Josh Woods (Woodkowski) had a dream from the time he was a teenager growing up in Alpena to someday make his mark in the art world in a way that would stand out and be noticed.
With his own tattoo shop in Nashville, Tenn., a clientele that includes professional athletes and country music stars, and now a spot on an upcoming reality television series, Woods appears to have accomplished that dream.
As a student at Alpena High School, Woods excelled in art classes under the guidance of then art instructor Kim Diment. Two weeks after his high school graduation party he left Alpena to join a few friends in Buffalo, N.Y. The friends all ended up not staying, but Woods was determined to find a tattoo artist willing to take him on as an apprentice.
Tattoo artist and former Alpena resident Josh Woods is shown at work in his Nashville, Tenn., studio, Black 13 Tattoo Parlor. Below are two examples of his work.
Ultimately, he found one at Nickel City Tattoo Shop by the name of Tattoo Don. Woods worked nights stocking shelves at a dollar store and then went to the tattoo shop to observe and absorb all that he could.
He had a plan and it had been set into motion. He toured for a while with a band, playing drums for extra money. Tattoo Don wouldn't let him touch any skin for nine months, but once he did Woods was off and running.
He stayed in Buffalo for seven years where he got to know the industry well. His aspirations were still, however, for bigger and better things. He sought out a position in a well-known tattoo shop called All or Nothing Tattoo Studio in Atlanta, Ga.
Off Woods went with his meager belongings. He learned a wealth of new things during the year that he was in Atlanta and he spent time traveling in and out of the country, living out of his suitcase.
While in Atlanta, Woods was approached by a friend of a co-worker about the possibility of opening a tattoo shop in Nashville, Tenn. He jumped at the chance and Black 13 Tattoo Parlor was born.
Doy Gardner and he currently co-own the upscale shop in the heart of downtown Nashville. It's located in Cummins Station, a restored old train warehouse. Initially, they turned many heads and had to produce a business plan to the owner to let them open up in the station. Many businesses are housed there, including lawyers, record labels and TNA wrestling.
After some convincing, the owner decided to give Black 13 Tattoo Parlor a chance. They just celebrated their three-year anniversary.
Woods and his partner have been selected for Toast of Nashville and The Scene's number one tattoo shop awards for three years in a row. Their idea to have an upscale, comfortable, clean environment in which to get a tattoo proved successful.
Gardner handles all of Wood's scheduling as well as the promoting and business aspects of the business, while Woods draws and stays focused on his artwork and tattooing.
He has been featured in Inked, Skin Art, Tattoo Society, Tattoo and many other magazines in and out of the country, including in a Polish magazine. He also recently returned from a convention in Florence, Italy. He travels many months of the year to conventions to get his art and his name out there. His clients come from all over the world such as Australia, Scotland and England.
Woods grew up loving baseball and hockey, both sports that he excelled in while in high school. Though perhaps unusual, he has combined being a jock and being an artist. His beloved Red Wings and University of Michigan Wolverines still are his favorite teams to watch, although he's becoming a bit of a Nashville sports fan due to all the NHL and MLB players and sports icons around town getting work done at his shop.
Tattooing clients also include Nascar drivers, country music stars, and rock and punk icons. He is well known for his shading, crisp lines and colorful "cartoon" style of tattooing as well as his realism. He never gives anyone the same tattoo because he believes everyone's art should be unique to them.
Woods filmed a new tattoo reality show called Ink Masters that will air Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. on Spike TV. The show is a competition where several tattoo artists live together and have to complete challenges. One person is voted off every week and the winner will receive $100,000, plus a spread in Inked Magazine.
Woods said participating in the reality show was an interesting experience, but he is bound by a contract that forbids him to say anything more about the show. He said it promises to be great entertainment.
Though living in Nashville and traveling a great deal, he still makes it home to Alpena occasionally as most of his family lives here. He also regularly visits his parents, former Alpena residents Darla and Larry Woodkowski, now of Dimondale.
To see more of Wood's work and what he's been up to these past years, check out these websites: www.black13tattoo.com, www.facebook.com/joshwoodsart, www.twitter.com/black13tattoo and www.Spiketv.com.