xxx = Learning to Surrender Jeff Gogue Ep 165 Learning_to_Surrender__Jeff_Gogue__Ep_165 Fireside Tattoo Network

Business and Mindset: Learning to Surrender Jeff Gogue Ep 165

Jeff Gogue | Learning to Surrender | Ep 165


Jeff Gogue has been a beacon in tattooing history. Through his insights, the interview delves into the transformative power of pain and struggle, both in tattooing and life. He emphasizes the importance of embracing challenges as opportunities for growth, highlighting the invaluable lessons learned from overcoming difficult moments. 

Gogue's approach to tattooing revolves around starting with "what is," whether it be a blank slate or existing tattoos, and fostering a holistic approach that respects the client's body while allowing for creative expression. He underscores the significance of preparation in reacting improvisationally, advocating for a proactive mindset that transcends various aspects of life, from art to business to personal growth.

We hope that you enjoy this dive into the deeper meanings of the discussion between Jeff and Jake.

This episode was made possible thanks to:


Interview by By Jake Meeks —

Writing By Daniel Pushcarich —

Topics: Tattoo Seminars, Overcoming Fears, Jeff Gogue Tattoos, Grants Pass Oregan, Scratching, Large Scale Tattooing, Body Suit Tattoos, Japanese Tattoos, Tattooing In Japan, japanese Culture


Jeff gogue Body suit tattoo, birds and branches


“I don’t think anyone lives completely honest…I’m no different, but I’m willing to see how honest I can be”

— Jeff Gogue

Jeff Gogue (@gogueart) did his first tattoo in August of 1999 in Northern California. Self taught. He's been influenced by people like Filip Leu and Shige and strives for creative, dynamic, Japanese inspired work, detailed where needed, loose and simple where it can be. 

He is an incredible teacher, orator, and storyteller, and is also an internationally acclaimed award winning tattooer in England, France, Italy, Australia, the US and Japan. 

At the time of this interview Jeff was working at Off The Map, after which he opened up 26 Swords which is now Hen House Tattoo and owned by his daughter Haley Gogue. Jeff now tattoos out of his brand new shop, Olinjar Studios where he also produces his very own tattoo periodical, Olinjar Tattoo Journal.

Jeff is based in Grants Pass, OR and owns Olinjar Studio.

Please enjoy!

jeff gogue tattoo, dragon claw, maple leaves, lantern



  • Connect with Jeff Gogue:

Olinjar Studio | IG

Jeff gogue arm sleeve tattoo, viking norse woman


  • [0:52] That Guy’s Not Gonna Bother You Anymore…
  • [05:54] Location, Location, Location! Strategic Shop Placement
  • [08:44] Abandon Your Fears, Or Abandon All Hope
  • [11:38] Giv'em What They Want, Then Tell'em What They Need
  • [15:18] Having Understanding & Awareness
  • [20:41] On Pain as a Teacher in Tattooing
  • [24:41] The Spiritual Perspective & Holistic Tattooing
  • [26:21] The Long Road Of Large Scale Tattooing
  • [30:51] Starting with What "IS" in the Tattoo
  • [35:21] Ooo Let me See! Where to Watch "Surrender"
  • [41:03] Outro, Where to Find Jeff




Abandon Yourself, Abandon Your Fears

[08:44] “You have to ‘abandon’ yourself. At some point you have to jump off the cliff, and just either live or die.”

— Jeff Gogue

It‘s never a bad thing to try and to have failed. A quote that I enjoy a lot that’s really helped me over the years is:

  • Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. 

-Samuel Beckett

Though this isn’t the entire quote, it is a point that I think most people struggle with. The thought of “what if I can’t do it” or “what if it doesn’t work out”. You have to make an attempt first before you ever have the opportunity to fail.

Even your heroes have insecurities like this. It seems most of the time like they have it all figured out but really they’re just as neurotic or stumbling as any other person. But the key difference that they share is the fact that they are willing to put themselves out there and be vulnerable. Those people you look up to were willing to fight the urge to give up and press forwards even at the risk of serious failure or embarrassment.

I think Jeff makes that point clearly because he hated all of these things about his own character, but from dissatisfaction and frustration decided to make a serious change. Can you think of time like that? What struggles have you had that’ve made you more resilient? Maybe you should think back on those moments to help you realize that you can push through.


On Pain as a Teacher in Tattooing

[20:41] “I remember those moments [getting tattooed] where I was like ‘I cannot do this’ And then, it would be as simple as Shige just stops for one second, puts his hand on my leg and says ‘...You’re very strong’ and then starts up again. And I’m like ‘ughh, he thinks I’m strong, okay I gotta do this”

— Jeff Gogue

I think there’s a lot of divide today between whether tattoos need to hurt or not. But I’m not really interested in that question, I think that’s more of a preference or a perception that you can have on your own. No, I think that what’s really important is the idea of “struggle” and the lessons and opportunities that you can get from these moments.

Jeff gogue Chest tattoo, Death, witches, and sulphur alchemy symbol

To me there is no better teacher than pain or struggle. To be clear, I’m not really talking about anything physical, though sometimes it can show up that way, but more the idea that when you make it through a difficult moment or time there’s an opportunity to learn from that experience. There is no progress without struggle.

Think about the first tattoo you ever did. Maybe it was fun, maybe you had a good time, but more than likely it was a stressful, sweaty, anxiety induced experience that you grew from. Think of all the tattoos you’ve done since and how much easier it’s become.


Starting with What "IS" in the Tattoo

[30:51] “So when someone says, ‘I want to get tattooed’, I just say, I need to see what you got, and I look at their whole body. Do you have any tattoos you like? Yeah? And then I'm like, ‘Okay, we're going to start there’. And as soon as we can clear the road, then we're all in.”

— Jeff Gogue

As Jeff says in the interview, sometimes “what is” is a blank slate and those moments and situations are cherished for some tattooers because of the rarity. But most times, in life and in tattooing itself, “what is” is often a mix of other things; previous tattoos, body shapes, times of hardship, or difficult situations — that you’re going to have to deal with the moment they arrive.

Let’s shift from mindset to tattooing for a brief moment. Most often when a client comes to you for a large piece; arm sleeve, full leg, backpiece etc. — they will probably already have some tattoos on their body. 

Now, you have some options here. You can try to stake your claim as an individual on their body by trying to fit and force a design around all these other tattoos they have. If you’re good at composition It may turn out well and be a nice looking piece. BUT, what Jeff is positing is instead look at those existing tattoos and see if there are some things you can build off of. Look at the person's existing work and find the one or two tattoos that you can CONNECT with your design and create a cohesive body suit for that individual. This should take a lot of pressure off of you as the designer because now you aren’t trying to shorthand yourself trying to force things next to each other, and it benefits the client because now they wont see any breaks in the design and they can feel more confident about the way their tattoos flow together. Working with “what is” and developing a holistic approach.

Jeff gogue tattoo, peony arm sleeve, lightning snake, reaper

But these things can only be achieved with true preparation. ‘Wait wait, what are you saying? I thought we we’re talking about improvising and reacting?’ We are! The only way to become truly improvisational as an artist or tattooer is through studying fundamentals and understanding basics, taking the time to learn and doing some prep work before that situation ever comes to you. In doing these things you’re essentially already well acclimated to whatever might come through your door.

There are many moments in your own life where these ideas can be applied. Be it art and tattooing, business and management, mindset and life. Being proactive in life is important, so that when your ‘opportunity’ to react shows up you’re prepared to act without deliberation.


jeff gogue body suit tattoo, biwa lady




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