A tattoo artist who takes inspiration from grafitti and street art, Joshua Heckert is an artist with a very specific style, but one which is striking and very unique within the world of comics and graphic art. Painting straight on canvas, he takes iconic panels & images from comics and gives them his own twist, building from the clean original image and tweaking it with a sort of messy and naturalistic aesthetic.
“I’m a professional tattoo artist, and I have a background in graffiti. I always liked the messiness of graffiti… the drips and the runs,” Heckert says. “When I started I was like, how can I set myself apart, that makes it mine in a sense? So I started making it almost a graffiti painting.” The graffiti influence is obvious from the composition, and the images chosen catch the eye, especially for one who came of age in the time of the comics boom; the classic panels and images of the late 80s to mid 90s superhero comics are iconic, and the tweaks Heckert puts to them gives them new life. Devoid of their original context, they gain a new power and perspective.
We talked a little about street art, and he recommends everyone check out the documentary Rock Fresh, which focuses on street artists such as Kofie. ”Most of his stuff is actually abstract graffiti; his style is really unique. He’s done music videos with Talib Kweli… you really see inside his mind, they really dive into his life and everything.”
As to whether there’s any original work coming: “I just did a short story for a small company out of eastern Maryland, PLB Comics“, Heckert says, “and I’ve always had in my mind to do my own book. It just takes a long time to get everything in order and find a writer and everything.” It will most certainly be visually interesting, and one hopes it will arrive sooner rather than later.
You can find him and his work & upcoming schedule online at www.joshuaheckert.com