Q – Why did you get into tattoos?
A – The pain, the blood and the art has a mysterious romance and a magic that I am drawn to. Tattoos are etched in living skin. They walk the earth, they age and one day they die. It’s the most human and intimate of art-forms. When I got into tattooing it was just starting to emerge from the underground. I saw it as a new creative frontier. Artists were just beginning to push the boundaries, and I felt that I could take it in new unimagined directions.
Q – How long have you been in the business?
A – I started tattooing in 1992.
Q – How many tattoos do you have?
A – I have several but since I only have one skin I tend to think of them as one tattoo.
Q – What’s your favorite and why?
A – I have a large winged griffon on my chest, leaping from a mountain top. It reminds me to have courage and faith. It’s a symbol of my strength and my potential to do great things.
Q – What sorts of tattoos do you like doing the most? Are they in a particular style?
A – When I do paintings I focus on my journey. When I do tattoos it’s all about the client and what they need. I feel that a tattooist has a profound responsibility to the client. The process is thick with Karma. Over the years my work has developed a very particular style that reflects many classical and modern influences. The work has reached a large audience and attracts a certain kind of client. Most of my clients come to me for a certain artistic approach that I’m known for.
Q – What’s the most difficult thing about working on skin?
A – When you work on paper or canvas you work directly on the surface. When you do tattoos you are actually creating the image just below the surface. The needles deposit ink inside the skin. The skin is pulsing with nerves and with blood. Sometimes it welcomes the tattoo and sometimes it resists.
Q – Do you ever wish your canvas didn’t squirm when you drew a line?
A – When a person is truly ready to get a tattoo they usually sit very still and calm. The pain is not a factor at all. Not everyone who gets tattooed is mentally prepared. When a client is jumpy or distracted the artist has to take energy away from the potential beauty of the tattoo and redirect it into calming the customer. When someone sits well they get a better tattoo, allowing the artist to focus on the art.
Q – Why do you think people get tattooed?
A – For myself and for many people I know, tattoos are earned by lessons learned and battles won (or sometimes lost). Life can be hard and it can be sweet. The things we cling to for meaning and strength make great tattoos. For some, tattoos are a symbol of individuality while for others they are the mark of conformity.
Q – Are there any tattoos people ask for that make you cringe?
A – There are lots of people who don’t really think about what they want. Every action we make in life can not be taken back. Time marches on and we can not undo what we have done. Tattoos are proof of this. LIfe has a way of teaching us the things we need to learn. Sometimes a bad tattoo is as important a lesson as a meaningful tattoo.
Q – Do you tattoo more women or more men? Are there different outlooks dependent on clients’ gender?
A – I seem to tattoo men and women equally. Men often think of themselves as warriors and hunters. They tend to get strong images on shoulders and arms. Women usually have a more delicate approach to tattoos. They like images from nature, Goddess inspired stuff like flowers and animals. The lower back and shoulder blade are popular spots for women.
Q – Why do you think people are interested in tattooing today?
A – Tattooing has risen to incredible heights of artistic expression that was not even imagined just 10 or 15 years ago. The techniques, bright colors and skillful rendering have attracted scores of people to get a tattoo. Tattoos age better then ever before, and when a tattoo is well done it can look beautiful for a lifetime.
Q – Is this a youth movement?
A – Although young people don’t have many of the negative associations that older people have regarding tattoos, people of every age are choosing to get tattooed.
Q – Do you see clients from different generations getting different types of tattoos?
A – Each generation grew up on different things. Every few years people have a whole different sense of what’s “cool”. These generational perspectives are definitely reflected in peoples tattoos.
Q – Historical It seems like tattoos appear throughout history in almost every culture. Why do you think this is?
A – Pain rituals are a common right of passage in many cultures that signifies the transition from youth to adult-hood. Life can be cruel and the ability to endure pain is an important part of facing life as an adult. A tattoo is proof of this transition.
Q – Myths What’s the worse stereotype about people who get tattoos?
A – Tattoos have been associated with drunks, bikers, gangs and outlaws. There is truth in stereotypes, but it’s a narrow minded truth that focuses on negative things. Stereotypes are a small truth that blind us to a bigger truth. The vast majority of tattooed people defy any stereotype. How many labels can a tattooed person have? Everybody gets a label from somebody no matter what you are… black, white, rich, poor, straight, gay, jewish, or christian.
Q – Are tattoos addictive? Why?
A – You bet they are! When you get the right tattoo it feels like you were born to wear it. My tattoos are some of the most beautiful things I own. They are a living diary that illustrates our evolution as individuals. Besides… *laughs* I was going to have to do a lot of push-ups to get my chest to look this good without a tattoo.