PRICK MAGAZINE, Volume 8, Issue 1, 10/07
How long have you been tattooing?
About six and a half years.
You were an artist before you became a tattoo artist. What made you want to get into the tattoo industry? How did you get started?
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. They were an intriguing mode of self-expression because they were potentially subversive to all the social and cultural forces I felt were trying to control me. I also saw tattoo artists being able to support themselves doing something creative as a career, and largely on their own terms. So for those reasons, I figured it was another artistic medium that I should eventually try. 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.
Your work has a lot of realism in it. How would you describe your 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.
Who are some of your influences, inside and outside of tattooing?
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 complete 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…
Your recent paintings and photographs deal with social and political themes. What is the overall message that you are trying to convey?
Essentially what I’m trying to convey through my art is a profound awe for the very concept of life, bewilderment of the very concept of death, and a deep sense of outrage and sadness at the destruction and misery we have collectively brought upon ourselves and the world. It’s usually an attempt to question or dislodge the viewer’s sense of comfort with their perception of reality.
What are your thoughts on the current state of tattooing? How do you feel about tattoo artists emerging as a force in the fine art world?
I’m excited by all the technical and artistic advances in tattooing, it seems like its still in a huge growth stage for those things. There is so much information and skill and opportunity out there, it’s both encouraging and humbling to be a part of. And naturally I think it’s great that tattoo artists are becoming recognized ‘fine artists’ for their work both on and off of skin. I think there are a bunch of tattooers in the world today who should be considered legitimate, historically respected ‘fine artists’ as far as the modern gallery and museum art world is concerned. I’m all for breaking down those subcultural barriers, but not in order to become the bad parts of what tattoo subculture has justifiably rebelled against—there’s a fine line there.
What’s your favorite part about being a tattoo artist?
The freedom to control my own career, my own schedule, my own life, and be creative on my own terms. And also to be able to positively impact the lives of others by helping bring their visions to life on their bodies—it can be a very meaningful and intimate process sometimes. When it fulfills all of its potential, it’s especially great to be a part of.
What do you like to do outside of tattooing?
Other art. As much as possible. Yet at the same time, I try to be a decent, well-rounded human by doing lots of other things and living fully. But it all eventually comes back to being an artist—observing, experiencing, creating, critiquing, creating.
Any future plans or final comments?
Vegan. Straight Edge. Anarchy. Choice Theory. Get educated (from all points of view) on what's really happening in the world, get active and engaged in meaningful activities with real people you care about. Fancy tattoos and shiny possessions can only take you so far. www.crimethinc.com, www.ifamericansknew.org, www.flightfromdeath.com, www.adbusters.org ...thank you.