Josh Egnew ’99: A Man of Many Canvases


Photo by: Bryce Ward

In the Spring of 1999, as Josh Egnew finished up his Bachelor of Arts at Oglethorpe, the young painter probably never imagined that he would one day be considered one of New York’s renowned artists.

Having spent years of his life painting, Egnew went international with his work—a career that has taken him from Stockholm to Luxembourg, Brussels and back, not only as a painter but also as a professional tattoo artist. Egnew’s creations have blossomed from brush and easel to ink and needle,  allowing him to defy the old adage of a  “starving artist” and create a legacy of his own.

In 2010, the New York-based artist’s work was on display at an art exhibit titled, Metanoia, which showcases the “dark yet beautfiul” artwork of Egnew and several other popular New York tattoo artists.  Metanoia–the Greek word for a change of will and the reforming of one’s mind–went on display at P.J.S. exhibitions in New York, NY and ran through August 29.

“Take the Night,” one of the paintings on display by OU alum Josh Egnew. “I enjoy watercolors. I have a good time manipulating them. That said, I’ll paint with anything.”

“Metanoia is a collection of new works that deal in ethereal subject matter. They’re visions of the night if you will. There are 5 of my pieces in the show all of which straddle the line of dark… yet beautiful. “

“Old Moon,” by Josh Egnew. “I find inspiration everywhere. With my recent works, the main inspiration is the cosmos, nature and scandinavian metal music. “

On the Weirdest Tattoo a Client Has Ever Requested:

“Oh….I get that question a lot and it’s never easy. I feel like nearly everyday is something bizarre in some way. I work in hipster central so, it’s almost like a contest of people “out-doing” each other. I’ve tattooed robotic m&m’s, shrimp riding skateboards, etc. The list goes on but, honestly it’s all sort of a blur at this point. The things that stand out most are the larger pieces that I’ve been getting to do more of. I’ve been enjoying doing japanese inspired pieces lately. That’s a lot of fun.” 

 On Tattooing Becoming More Accepted Into the Mainstream: 

“When the media embraces things it changes everything. Suddenly everybody’s hero’s/idols are tattooed.That spawns copycats or inspiration and society gets so used to seeing it that they just seem to accept it. Especially where I live. I think there may be more tattooed people than those without in my neighborhood. It’s time to move! haha. I do wish it had stayed a bit more “grimey” but, what are you going to do?”

Any Advice to Other Young Artists?

Oh man, I’m not one to give advice.   It’s taken me long enough to find my way and there’s still a ways to go.  Just work hard.  There’s too much competition in life to just sit back and believe that you deserve something.  You’ve got to earn it more now than ever.”

 How Many Tattoos Do You Have?

“I couldn’t begin to count. I’m covered in them.”

 Photos courtesy of
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