1) HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TATTOOING? WHAT WAS THE MAIN REASON BEHIND YOUR CHOICE TO BECOME A TATTOOER?
I’ve been tattooing for 8 years now. Art has always been a part of my life since I was young. I studied Art and specifically sculpture at college and university but dropped out of university after 1 year. Feeling burnt out I spend a couple of years avoiding anything artist completely and was getting tattooed frequently while working whatever job I could find. The more I got tattooed and learnt about the history of traditional tattooing specifically I was hooked and from there I started drawing tattoo designs to show as reference for tattoos I wanted on myself. I guess I was lucky and it was right when the Instagram boom started for tattooing and I found an apprenticeship through building an online following posting the designs I’d drawn.
2) WHAT ARE YOUR INFLUENCES/ WHO INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
My main influences have always been classic flash designs from the past century. Starting out sailor Jerry inspired my design direction as I’ve always seen his designs as the benchmark for modern tattooing and his work is known around the world even outside of the industry. I try not to follow many modern tattooists too closely as it’s so easy to subconsciously follow their ways of drawing or tattooing and compare your own work to theirs which isn’t healthy for developing your own natural style.
3) CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO YOUR CURRENT STYLE?
I knew very early on into my apprenticeship that I wanted to focus on making classic traditional tattoos and I’ve been so lucky to have had clients that have come to me for it. Obviously with working in street shops I’ve tried out most styles of tattooing and always tried my best to give the customer a tattoo they are happy with in whatever style they requested. I worked in a shop for a few years with 4 other guys all doing full colour traditional but there were only so many customers in the town wanting colour traditional so I tried to break away from that and focus on making black traditional tattoos and developing the way I put designs together to suit blackwork. 6 years on and I very rarely get asked to do colour work anymore but I’m still happy to take on whatever a client asks for.
4) DO YOU THINK THERE ARE CHALLENGES IN BEING A TATTOO ARTIST?
The main challenge I’d say would be customer etiquette. Tattooing has become so accessible in recent years and customer etiquette has changed dramatically. There’s no fear in tattoo shops anymore clients will come in throw their bags down and sit on any free chair or bed in the room before you’ve had chance to greet them. I’m all for creating a welcoming environment and would never want to make anyone feel unwelcome but we are a sterile environment and boundaries must exist to keep the experience professional.
Another challenge would be customer expectations in a digital era. Social media has completely changed the world and how we perceive it and the same goes for tattooing. It’s created the idea that everything you do in life should we worthy of an inspirational post on social media highlighting the life you want others to think you live. Not every tattoo we do is posted online and for the most part tattooists will use social media as a real time portfolio to showcase their best work to appeal to potential clients. I think this has changed customers expectations of the standard of tattoo they will receive and also the experience they think they’ll have in a tattoo studio on any given day. The reality is not every tattoo we produce on a daily basis will be to a award winning or social media worthy standard and not all clients will have the same experience that lives up to their social media dream lifestyle but as tattooists we can only do our best for each client that day.
5) FAVOURITE THING ABOUT BEING A TATTOO ARTIST?
The history of tattooing has always been what has excited me most. Researching old flash and reading the history of the legends that created them has always fascinated me. I try to honour these traditions within my work and borrow old ideas or subject matters to create my own take on traditional. Something I’ve come to learn is that there have been many great tattooers before me and there will be many after I’m gone so I just hope that I can add something to the history of tattooing during my time within the industry for future generations to be inspired by.