Where did you grow up? Do you think this attributed to you becoming a tattoo artist or did this happen by other means?
I spent most of my time in New York, and its where I received my BA in Psychology, as well as my apprenticeship.
The main reason I became a tattoo artist was because I had always loved art. I was fascinated with creating something from nothing out of my imagination. I was intrigued with making something 2D, appear 3D. I was on my path to becoming a Clinical Psychologist, when I realized that I had to pursue my first love, which was art.
Can you describe your current studio to us? How does it differ from your previous setups?
My current studio is at Loose Screw Tattoo in Richmond VA. It differs from other studios because there is a fair amount of people there that specialize in the new school genre, and there are a couple people there that went to college for art. It’s quite different from people that i’ve worked with, who had the talent, but not the degree.
Which artists or other people have influenced you and your work the most?
The artists that have influenced me the most are Luke Blegen, Sam King, Jesse Smith, Jason Stephan, Frank La Natra, Tanane Whitfield, Scotty Munster, Tim Pangburn and many others. I was also drawn heavily toward cartoons of the 90’s, like Invader Zim, Ren & Stimpy, and The Simpsons. I think this love of cartoons from an early is what brought me to do the work I do now.
I also follow and look up to many Painters and Digital Illustrators, like Bobby Chiu, Dan Luvis, Michael Hussar, Casey Baugh, and so many more. I am just a fan of talent foremost.
How do you feel around the current stigma of tattoos? Do you think it has improved over the last 10 years? How do you think this will evolve over the next 10 years?
I think the stigma of having tattoos is becoming much better, especially in select towns. Richmond and New York City are two places that come to mind in terms of people being more readily accepted. It isn’t uncommon to see people walking around with tattooed sleeves in these cities, and finding tattooed people in everyday business interactions. I think the stigma was much worse in previous years, but fortunately it is becoming mainstream and much more accepted. I think in ten more years it will continue to become even more accepted. People of this generation won’t judge younger people simply because of their body art. Everyone wants to show their unique personality through their art, and the fact that sailors, bikers and prisoners are not the only ones giving and having tattoos is becoming recognized.
How has your style changed or developed since you started?
My style has evolved as much as any style can possibly evolve I believe. When I started my apprenticeship all i wanted to do was evil black and grey Paul Booth style tattoos. I thought that that was the best representative of who I was. I then thought that doing color portraits and reproductions was the ultimate in tattooing. I thought that it was the most difficult and skilled form of tattooing. I dabbled in black and grey and color realism, but realized how I thought and what my drawings were leaning toward was more silly and cartoony. It wasn’t until I was professionally tattooing for about two years when I discovered people doing new school, and it clicked to me. I knew then that I had found my niche in the tattoo industry.
Is there anything (or anyone) in particular you want to tattoo but haven’t gotten the chance?
There isn’t anything in particular that I yearn to tattoo, my clients are so rad and 90% of the time let me do whatever I want – with very little restrictions. I absolutely adore my clients and value the freedoms they give me. As far as people I’d like to tattoo – I’d love to tattoo any of my influences, even though I’d be extremely nervous!
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring tattoo artists?
Whenever possible I try to take time out and help people that are striving to become tattoo artists. I don’t have any secrets as far as my technique. I always repeat the advice that I was given when I was in my early evolution stages by Taylor Cort, which was “draw, draw, redraw”. Along the way I have gotten so much from my colleagues as far as how to look at compositions, tangents, light sources, temperature balance etc. As far as people seeking apprenticeships I posted a two page blog about it on my website, which boils down to the aspiring apprentice taking their art seriously, respecting the craft, and stay motivated in trying to make the dream come true. It’s essential for them to bring a cleaned up body of art work and physically show up at a studio and show effort.
Anything else you would like to add or give a shout out to?
I’d just like to say thank you for everyone that has been around in my career. I’ve learned from everyone that was around me, and value every lesson. I’d like to say thank you to my clients and anyone that takes the time to take a moment and look at my artwork and encourage me on my new endeavors. I have a ton of new ideas, and a much more focused idea of where I’d like to take my art and I appreciate everyone for the support.