Can you describe your current studio to us? How does it differ from your previous setups?
I am currently working out of American Crow Tattoo in Columbus, Ohio. American Crow is a boutique tattoo parlor of sorts with an old world gentlemen vibe. The moment you walk into the shop, you are greeted by countless antiquities and a pleasant scent of natural oils that are blended in house by Tiffany. The staff is dressed to nines, so to speak, on a daily basis. The shop is a quiet suburb of Columbus but has made a name for itself in just the year it has been open. The shop is completely different than any other shop I have worked for previously. The attire that we, as a whole, wear on a daily basis gives the studio an upscale feel that is unlike any other I have experienced. This most recent move, to this studio, was an exciting step on to a new avenue of tattoo studios I have yet to experience.
Where did you grow up? Has this attributed to you becoming a tattoo artist or did this happen by other means?
I grew up in a small town in North East Ohio called Canal Fulton. It’s a close knit community that revolves around the sports that are played within the school systems. Growing up, sports were the furthest thing from my mind. I frequented a small art studio in our historic downtown weekly, Stiles Art Studio, instead of attending sports practices. I grew up loving art. The typical subject matter of my “early work” was far from what I am drawn to now- no pun intended. Though not directly pushing me towards this career path, its definitely paved the way of my future working in visual arts and tattooing.
Which artists or other people do you admire the most and have possible influenced your work?
One artist who I admire most greatly would be Jeff Gogue. He is truly an incredible artist. The way that he incorporates elements of art nouveau with realism and Japanese style tattooing creates work that is quite remarkable. He can manipulate the color pallet so the contrast is impeccable and one could stare at a piece in awe. In my opinion, his work is delicate and bold, and while maintaining a serene beauty to the piece there is often a dark tonality to the image. The way he can emulate lighting effects and strong transitions within a piece brings the image to life and its hard to believe that you are looking at a tattoo. He is a exceptional painter as well and countless beautiful fine art pieces. Though my work does not correlate with his work as far as style and subject matter, Jeff Gogue is easily my strongest influence within the tattoo community with his talent, dedication, and passion for what he does. His work has driven me to learn, grow, persist, and strive to be the best that I can.
How has your style changed or developed since you started?
When I first started tattooing the public after my apprenticeship, it was all flash from pages on the walls or simple designs from the internet. Over the past few years I have been able to explore more avenues as far as style. I have gotten more clients who are able to grant me a little artistic freedom or who are more open to my input on a piece. I have, in the past 6 months, really taken a strong interest in black and grey realism. Though I have a long way to go to hone my skills and really excel, this style is truly one of my favorite ways to tattoo. As mentioned before, I have a strong admiration for Jeff Gogue. The elements that he incorporates into his pieces and his own unique style is something that I can say drives me to expand my thought process and how I see things. The bold yet delicate waves, the ornamental frames, the rich saturated colors all attribute to the beauty within his work that I pull inspiration from daily.
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?
Tattoos are slowly becoming more acceptable within the work place. I will not say that I am happy with where the acceptance is, but it has surely improved over the past decade. Tattoos are a way of self expression, so long as the subject matter is not offensive- i.e., swear words, racism, etc- I still to this day do not understand the stigma that is held with tattoos. Many people see tattoos as gang affiliation and convicts, and while they both stand true, doctors, lawyers, and engineers can also have tattoos. Tattoos do not affect the way that one can do a job, or the way a parent can love their child. They are purely aesthetics, and nothing more. I say that lightly as I do not wish to convey that tattoos do not mean anything to the person who wears them, as tattoos are often sentimental, but to the outside world they do not alter us in any way but physically. As far as the future of tattoos, they are gaining popularity with every passing year and one can only hope that within the next decade, the stigma has completely fallen- Where someone doesn’t have to worry about “I can’t get a tattoo here if i want to be a (insert profession)”.
Is there anything (or anyone) in particular you want to tattoo but haven’t gotten the chance?
I would love to start doing more large scale work in general. Subject matter isn’t as much a contributing factor. I am currently working on a sleeve project of a clients favorite celebrities, and on another client I am doing a half sleeve Greek mythology piece of her favorite Gods/Goddesses. While pieces like this are enjoyable, they are like fitting pieces of a puzzle together, a face here and a face there. I would like to do more full sleeves and back pieces that consist of a large subject matter and supporting elements. Pieces that are more cohesive and flowing as a whole instead of several stand alone pieces that are all connected. Im not sure if that makes complete sense, but in my caffeine deficient state it makes perfect sense on my end!
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring tattoo artists?
This is a tricky question as I still consider myself an “aspiring tattoo artist.” I am still very new in this field with less than 4 years of experience under my belt. That being said, I have come a long way since the first day of my apprenticeship. I have grown artistically and mentally. The best advice that I can give, is don’t stop. When you think things are going well, they are not, just simply better than they were. You can never be content with your work and abilities- Always push yourself to go further, paint more, draw more, just DO MORE. You will hit a lot of road blocks. This isn’t the glamorous life the TV shows make it out to be. There are times when you will struggle and time you will succeed triumphantly, but you have to keep your eyes forward and not get distracted. You must always push forward to whats next, as there is always more to learn and always more to do.