A week ago I marched down (or “trained” as I didn’t really go on foot and took the train, badum tisshhhhh) to London to meet up with Joseph Ari Aloi, the artist I interviewed a couple of weeks ago, and attend his book signing at the opening of Seven Doors Tattoo, on Fashion Street. I wanted to get some nice photos of the event but it was so crowded I didn’t even take my camera out. I have committed everything to my memory though, and I am so glad I didn’t miss this event.
Meeting Joseph has been an interesting experience in itself – you see, he is a very creative and complex person and his creative energy is extremely contagious. I don’t think anyone can remain indifferent to his character and intense personality, I know I haven’t. After I read the book it all made even more sense and I saw, by reading all the essays by other people, that I’m not the only one. Joseph is the kind of person with such a good and intense vibe that you can’t help but feel it. This time I didn’t get the chance to have a tattoo done by Joseph but it’s on my list of things I want to do in the future (maybe the next time I’m in NYC?). More importantly, I have gained a friend and those can be hard to come by.
The pages on his notebooks are a reflection of what goes on in his mind, always imaginative, always searching. The visual and verbal puns are extremely funny and clever – the ever present Star Wars references and the Hello Kitty ones especially made me chuckle. There are so many layers to Joseph’s work that you can stare at these pages for hours, go back and still find something new, some new meaning, a tiny hidden character or symbol. His spirituality, ideas, pain and happiness are all there, in an honest and overwhelming visual torrent, that is impossible to absorb in its entirety. His visual language is full of references, pop culture, logos, spirituality, toys, Star Wars, sex, symbols and rune-like pictograms. Some can be hard to decipher or understand the meaning of but that doesn’t take away from how visually stimulating it all is.
The book is a beautiful edition by Rizzoli, 240 pages of pure visual delight, a monograph of Joseph’s life and work over the last 12 years with a few pages of the previous years. You can find it on Amazon and selected bookstores everywhere – get it, you won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.