Name: Joey J.
Major: Graduate student in the MBA program for sustainable business practices
Hometown: Cottonwood, Arizona
What would you say your “everyday style” is? I would have to say “punk rock hustle.” I basically became a punk rocker when I was 14. I really stuck by the style for a while. I was always that “punk rock guy with the patches,” and [there were] a lot of outward statements of identity. I really dove in and became a part of the scene when I was younger.
What does the word “confidence” mean to you? Confidence is waking up in the morning and knowing where I’m going. Every night, I set out a schedule for myself with both short and long-term plans. Then I write out a paper schedule for myself that goes through my day with all my obligations, such as school, projects and work. Making time for myself is something I don’t often do. Confidence for me is really being where I need to be, when I’m there.
Left: “Lady Silence.” The small dot towards the bottom was given to Joey by his recently deceased Lolo (grandfather). Out of over thirty tattoos, this one is his favorite. Middle: “Jean Valjean.” Right: “Lady Flight.”
In what ways do you feel like you “rebel against” what society wants you to wear? I’m in a MBA business program. When I showed up on my first day at my internship over the summer, I wore brown dress pants; a tan, collared shirt; and a green tie. One way you could put that is “Joe, you don’t know how to dress professionally!” I go to school/work, and I just wear what I want to wear, and I make myself professional.
What are your thoughts on allowing tattoos in the workplace? I think of it in terms of branding. Are your tattoos on brand with the business? If you work at Voodoo Doughnut or an underground restaurant, then you can expect tattoos will be there. If you work at a bank, you don’t expect someone to be heavily tattooed. It’s really interesting that way, but people dress according to the expectations that are set by different environments.
Joey attached a binder clip to his brown Pendleton button-up. Binder clips are an essential part of his wardrobe, as he uses them to organize pretty much everything.
What is your response to the stigma that tattoos are “unprofessional?” I view tattoos as timeless. It’s something that humans have always done. It’s a statement of identity to belong with a certain group. If you take that into the workplace, it’s important to recognize that when you have a tattoo, you are identifying yourself as a certain type of person. When you work in some types of jobs — such as a law firm — there’s a certain professionalism to being a lawyer that really goes beyond individualism. If you’re making the decision to get a certain style of tattoo that is unprofessional, then maybe you shouldn’t be pursuing a professional career. I recognize that being tattooed adds that level of identification. I’m not the guy with the hand or the neck tattoo because that guy is identified in a certain way. I can always button my collar and roll down my sleeves. It’s not about being anonymous, it’s about being an average person.
How do your tattoos represent you? There is the idea that your body is your temple and you should not tattoo on it. I am of the opinion that your body is your temple and you can write on it. You can write on the walls of your temple and actually communicate with the world and universe around you.
Joey’s belt buckle is from the 1977 National Rodeo Finals. His great uncle Bob collects buckles from different rodeos and gave this one to him.
What aspects of your life are reflected in your style? I would say definitely my personal history. Being involved in punk rock and underground music as a kid really shines through. With tattooing, I’ve chosen American traditional style, which I think says a lot about who I am and where I’ve been in life.
How many tattoos do you have? Something like 36? I always wanted at least 30 tattoos. Once I got there, I couldn’t keep count. I sometimes forget about some!
“Hope in Death.”
What inspired your first tattoo? My first tattoo was simply the words “be good.” It was about trying to transcend who I was and become a better person, but almost dictatorially so. It felt more like “do this,” versus my later tattoos which mean “be who you are.” I’ve since gotten it covered up. I got in a lot of trouble as a kid and got kicked out of high school but always had great grades. I got to college, and I really wanted to “straighten out” and be a good person. That is why my first tattoo was “be good.” Kids are kids. Kids will do what they do. All of that is benign and not representative of who I am today. That’s why I covered up my first tattoo.
Do you have a favorite tattoo? If so, which one? My favorite tattoo is the small dot on my arm from my Lolo, my recently deceased grandfather. He gave me this dot. When I heard he was diagnosed with cancer, I flew to visit him and brought tattoo needles with me. I sat with my Lolo and said, “You’ve seen me in my ups and downs, and I know you don’t agree with my tattoos, but I was wondering if you’d give me a tattoo.” His response was, “You know what? Why the hell not!”
Making to-do lists and staying organized are crucial parts of Joey’s day. His wallet is simply a giant binder clip.
What developed your interest in your major? It was the idea that business can be a force for positive change. We always characterize business as being self-serving — and it is. We characterize business as being destructive — and it is. But, if we change the lens of how an economy functions or how resources function or what the actual value of certain things are (forest products, fossil fuels, water, etc.), then we can approach some type of ecological balance that will actively heal the damage we’ve done to the earth.
Words and photos, Hannah Neill, www.hannahneill.com