Josh Deane is a model, stylist, and artist based in Melbourne, Australia. After discreetly tattooing his thigh in his adolescence, Deane has been steadily adding to an array of impactful, figurative work. Intelligent placement and a contemporary take on classical motifs preserve a spirit of rebellion in Deane’s extensive collection.
What is your name, birthplace, and year of birth?
Josh Deane. I was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in 1990.
Where did you grow up? Please describe your upbringing and sociocultural background.
I grew up in a small beach town an hour north of Brisbane called the Sunshine Coast. I’m the eldest of four (one brother, two sisters). Growing up, my family didn’t have much but I never went without what I needed. I was the kid in the school photos in the wrong uniform. I couldn’t be told what to do and had a love for drawing and art.
I could never sit still—I still can’t—and that led me to spend a lot of my time surfing and skating with my mates. I played rugby until I found hardcore music, after which I started up a band with some friends. Inspired by my favorite bands at that time, I decided to turn vegan.
When did you start getting tattooed?
When I was 16 I tattooed my thigh where I thought I could hide it from my parents. Shortly after turning 18 I got my wrists tattooed.
What made you want to get tattooed?
I was mostly inspired by musicians who I looked up to.
What are your first memories of seeing tattoos?
My first memory of seeing tattoos was on one of my dad’s mates, Wes. He had a blacked out leg and a sleeve. I thought it was so cool that he had art on his body.
Who first tattooed you and how did you choose the design and placement of that tattoo?
My first professional tattoo was done by an apprentice—I wish I could remember his name. The tattoo was a rose with a key inside of it on my wrist.
After your first piece, did you deliberately build a collection?
Yes, from the moment I could get tattooed I wanted to be covered.
How do you conceive of the relationship between your tattoos?
Most of my life I’ve suffered with my body image. By decorating myself and having something on me that I love to look at, I’ve found that my tattoos have become a way of healing and claiming my skin as my own.
Are there particular pieces that have had a lasting symbolic and/or historical significance to you?
I look at my tattoos as art; they all have many meanings and are open for interpretation.
Is the meaning of a given piece or the time and context in which you got it important to you?
Nah not really—I just kinda’ get an idea and run with it.
How do you understand being substantially tattooed? How does it differ from living with your first few pieces?
It’s a big part of my life and I love it. I’ve always felt out of step with society and I wear my art with pride: the more pieces I get, the happier I become with my aesthetic.
How do you choose your artists and motifs?
Originally, bands’ album art inspired me. These days, I get inspired by the art of others.
Has your collection received any interesting reactions that you’d like to share?
Yes, in Brisbane the police often treat me like a criminal and search me in the streets. I’ve been denied entry to night clubs and was once fired from my job because my tattoos were “intimidating” to patrons.
Right hand, throat, and neck by Jasmin Austin (@jasminaustintattoos) | Left arm and stomach by Sebastien Ulmer | Key on face and goat on right arm by Benjamin Laukis (@benjaminlaukis) | Right bicep and candle on face by Joshua Todaro (@josh_todaro) | Left leg, back of head, and fillers by Aaron “Smitho” Smith (@tattoosmitho) | Chest, rat on right arm, back, and scissors on face by Sam Arrowsmith (@whothefuckissamarrowsmith) | Right leg by Ash Thorburn (@ashthorburntattoo), Ruby Kubetz (@r_kube), and Lachie Grenfell (@lachiegrenfell) | Right knee by Emmet Jace (@emmet_jace_tattoos) and Aaron “Smitho” Smith (@tattoosmitho)