1. What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?
As I matured in my teens, and became exceedingly rebellious and interested in all things counter-cultural and antagonistic to the 'norm', I became more and more aware of tattoos as an art form, and an intriguing mode of potentially subversive self-expression. So for those reasons, I figured it was another artistic medium that I could and should eventually try. So when I finally landed an apprenticeship at age 18 (after starting to get heavily tattooed myself), I dropped out of art school to pursue tattooing full time.
2. Do you remember the first tattoo you did? What was it and how did it make you feel?
My first tattoo was a simple cartoon-style drawing of a man in a beaver suit, drawn by my friend and coworker at the time, who also graciously offered to receive my first tattoo. Naturally I was bewildered and extremely nervous—but excited—and it turned out exactly how a first tattoo should.
3. Are there any artists whom you look up to? If so, who and why?
There are so many artists that I look up to or whose work I appreciate for one reason or another. It’s hard to form any kind of comprehensive list, so just a portion of them I can think of right now are Salvador Dali, J.P. Witkin, Simen Johan, Mark Kessel, H.R. Giger, Guy Aitchison, Tim Hawkinson, Cindy Sherman, Richard Estes and all Photorealist painters, Charles Santarpia, Megan Merrell, Todd Schorr, Alex Grey, Caravaggio, Michaelangelo, Ron English, Eric White, Leonardo DaVinci, Russell Mills…
4. According to your website, you’re booking 3 months in advance, does that overwhelm you at all?
Yes it is definitely overwhelming. It’s hard not to get trapped in the predicament of trying to please everyone, all the time. I’m slowly learning that I just can’t do this the more popular my artwork and tattooing becomes, unfortunately. In order to stay inspired and devote the energy to each piece that it deserves, I keep my workload as small as possible, but even now it’s still too big I think. Even though I only book about 3 months out, the following 6-9 months are usually reserved for all the people that need many return appointments to finish their larger projects.
5. Other than preferring to work with color, what's your favorite style?
I find it really hard to classify my own ‘style’ but I usually enjoy a fairly realistic, 'painterly' and whenever possible, highly conceptual style of tattoo art. Presumably because this is more or less how my non-tattoo artwork looks. I try to get the two mediums to compliment each other as intuitively as possible, and I’m always happy when I can get a tattoo to look like my painting style.
6. How do you feel about the tattoo reality based shows "Inked" and "Miami Ink"?
I have some strong and mixed feelings on the recent wave of media-spectacle trendiness of tattooing, via popular TV shows, which create these sort of quasi-celebrities. I do feel that the general public (whoever that even is... it's all of us, really) deserves the privilege of having access to top quality tattoos (from a cleanliness, technical, AND artistic standpoint), and to honest, fair treatment. So if these shows help promote this and spread good knowledge then I’d see that as a good thing, but I say ‘if’ because the only bit of these shows I’ve ever seen was the pilot episode of one of them. But that’s perhaps the only lasting good thing I can see coming from our art form and culture/community being consumed and spit out by corporate America and the mass-media television spectacle. These entities exist only to make money through advertising revenue—they don’t give a fuck about us or the art we hold dear, it’s just something they can make money on for the time being, and I think it’s a little naïve and foolish to let yourself get sucked into the quick, easy fame and money they are tempting us artists with. But, to each their own—I just try to focus on my own life and career and not what’s on the TV.
7. Lastly, where do you see yourself in say 5-10 years?
I see myself still doing what I’m doing now: making art and tattoos that I’m passionate about and inspired by, trying to make a positive contribution to the world and the lives of people I care about, having fun, and trying to live up to my fullest potential. Vegan Straight Edge for life.