Results tagged “illustrative tattoo”

07:18 PM
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I'll admit, as a Star Trek fan, it was the Spock tattoo (with the Live Long & Prosper palm ink!) that prompted me to grab Sadee Johnston for an interview, but I've always been a fan of her charming tattooed characters. Sadee, who works at Great Western Tattoo Club, Swindon, UK, took time to talk about her portfolio and approach to tattooing, as well as share what she's reading, watching, listening and other fun stuff.

The tattooed characters in your portfolio really embody a strong personality; they have a life to them, rather than being a flat image, which is really engaging. How do you approach your work to give it that kind of personal spark?

I think my style of work  has a lot to to with my background in illustration. I was always very interested in children's book illustration and I'm generally influenced by a lot of illustration artists as well as tattooers -- artists like Alex Gross, Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup are all people I have admired for a long time, and despite their work having a strong surreal vibe to it, it's still very character driven, which is probably where the element of personality within my animals especially comes through within my own work.

You also take unique approaches to common themes. When a client comes to you with an idea, what's the process like to create a tattoo design that has a different perspective than the norm?

I think I just try to do work that still has sense of character or life. I think sometimes I tend to over think things and some of my best work has been 2 minutes sketches on the day.

What do you love about tattooing?

I love the social side of tattooing, I have met some great and inspiring artists, who I am lucky enough to call my friends. I also think the freedom to travel and work in other peoples studios is definitely a great perk.

What projects/travels are coming up for you?

I will be guesting in Canada in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal in October. Hopefully I will in the America for some guest spots later next year. 

Sounds great. Happy to hear that you're interested in guesting abroad.

What are you currently ...

Reading?   SJ Watson "Before I go to sleep'"
Listening?  I was listening to old man gloom this morning -- pretty aggressive way to start the day. Haha.
Watching?   The Killing, it's so good!
Following (online)?  Everything
Finding?   Cat hair everywhere

Find more of Sadee's work on Instagram.

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12:02 AM
erin chance tattoo.jpgThe US imported exceptional tattoo talent when New Zealand's Erin Chance decided to make Richmond, Virginia her new home. I became a fan of Erin's work, which leans towards the neotraditional, from her time at Auckland's renowned Sacred Tattoo studio, and I'm stoked that Erin will be sharing her talents on the road in North America (and places beyond). I grabbed Erin for a quick email Q &A. Here's how it went down:

First off, when did you officially make the US your home?

I finally got my Green Card right before Christmas 2012, so I've been here just over a year now. Best Christmas present! I'm based in Richmond, VA., but on the road a lot.

Has moving to Virginia had an impact on your work?

A little, mainly what machines I use, etc.. My art has been going through some changes. I'm sure tattoos will follow suit before too long.

You have a wonderfully diverse portfolio, but also one with a particular bent towards neotraditional work. Do you prefer to work in different tattoo styles or focus on one genre?
Thank you! I really enjoy Neo-traditional/illustrative work above all else, but I also enjoy recreating fine art as tattoos from time to time. Not photorealism, at least in colour. That terrifies me! Ha! More like comic covers or fantasy paintings. I'm a nerd.

erin chance tattoo 1.jpgSince you began tattooing in 2006, has there been any experience, whether it be in tattooing or personal, that had a profound affect on your work?

Traveling has been a huge part of my career since early on. I've been places and met people I probably wouldn't have had the chance to if it weren't for tattooing, and it's impossible not to learn from those experiences. Also getting the job at Sacred, so early on in my career was an opportunity of a lifetime. Dean Sacred and Dan Andersen were amazing mentors and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. Chris Bezencon of Eastside Tattoo in NZ was my first mentor. There I learned a unique approach (by modern standards) to tattooing. Rotaries and single needle outlines! As a result, I am much more comfortable using a tight 3 than a 9rl [round liner]. Ha!

One of your tattoos that has made its way all around the internet is the stunning fox hunt themed backpiece, (shown above). Could you tell us more about that piece?

The fox hunt scene is on an old family friend. I've known Steve my whole life, and he was actually a huntsman for years so this was a tribute to that time in his life. Although we don't actually have foxes in New Zealand. Haha. It took somewhere around 70-75 hours (7 full days and 2 halves) over 2 months. He is a machine!

If you could sum up your philosophy on tattooing, what would it be?

Work hard. Give the cleanest tattoo you can. Make people happy, but not at the expense of your own professional integrity, or sanity!

erin chance tatto2.jpgYou recently showed your fine art work at Glitch Gallery. What are the parallels between your fine art and tattoo work?

Generally, my art and tattoos are more or less the same style, but for this show, I definitely pulled away a little in some pieces. I think, as I start painting more, the shift will become more noticeable.

Where is the best place online for people to purchase your artwork?

You can by my prints at

When you're not tattooing or painting, what do you love to do?

I'm a gamer, haha! Not that I ever get time for video games these days. I read a lot, and I have 3 lovably annoying cats that love sitting on my lap or shoulder while I'm trying to draw.

Any guest spots and conventions coming up?  

So far, I have a guest spot at Archive Tattoo in Toronto coming up, then Hell City Columbus, Silver State Reno, a guest spot at Red Rocket NYC, the New Zealand Tattoo & Arts festival, and the Melbourne Body art Expo. I'm sure there will be more added in between though.

See more of Erin's work on her site, Instagram, and Twitter.

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01:11 PM
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In the November issue (yes, November) issue of Skin & Ink magazine on newsstands now, you'll find my profile on Jesse Smith of Loose Screw Tattoo in Richmond, Virginia. I came to know Jesse's work upon seeing two of his clients at a convention sporting bold and colorful bodysuits, which seemed to illustrate stories that would be beloved by children but best appreciated by adults. Jesse shared his art and his own personal stories for the magazine. Here is an excerpt:

The characters that populate Jesse Smith's tattoo and fine art work are up to no good. Rabbits, squirrels, and mice may look cute but they play out evil plots in full-body tattooed color bombs reflecting the political and religious views of the wearer. The juxtaposition of heavy subject matter relayed in light and charming form has become a signature for Jesse that has attracted an international clientele since he began tattooing in 1999. Today, he welcomes these clients into Loose Screw Tattoo in Richmond, VA, which he opened May 6th of this year.

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When asked about the serious undertones in his art, Jesse offers this example of how one of his larger tattoo projects developed:

"One of the pieces that I feel really had a lot of political fuel behind it was the 'Oppression' piece. The client who owns this piece really had no idea as to what he wanted when we first sat down together. His main concern was to cover-up this rather large piece that ran across his shoulders. I asked what his political and religious views were and if he'd be interested in trying to illustrate something that revolved around those particular themes on his back. We soon came up with the concept of oppression. In this particular piece, the gorilla represents the government/corporations and their massive size. The gorilla is trying to give the squirrels--which in this piece represent the average person--a toxic acorn. The toxic acorn represents all the things that the government/corporations try to give us that aren't good for us (i.e. credit cards, high interest loans, etc.). The squirrels take the acorns, but rather then eating them, they turn them into acorn bombs and will eventually give the government/corporations a taste of their own medicine."
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Of course, not every tattoo Jesse creates bears enormous ideological weight. His portfolio is peppered with playful works that stand on their aesthetics alone, from pink bulldogs to a penis on a swing. But most are crafted in a distinct style that is very identifiably his own. It transcends the old "New School" label. Jesse has called it "Lo-Brid," and explains how he coined the term:

"When I first started tattooing, New School was the genre of tattooing that I looked up to and connected with the most. As I matured as an artist I noticed that the artists who were being grouped into that particular genre had surpassed what all that genre encompassed. I had discussed this thought with other artists and they all seemed to share the same opinion. So I started to brainstorm a bit and came up with the name Lo-Brid. I liked how it played off of the words hybrid and low brow and seemed to run parallel to their meanings. I, personally, consider the Lo-Brid style a movement of tattooing that has collected inspiration from graffiti, tattoo, comic book and lowbrow art.
Read more of the article in Skin & Ink.

Jesse is also one of the many wonderful artists featured in my last monster book Color Tattoo Art: Cartoon. Comics. Pin-Up. Manga. New School (along with Jason Stephan, also at Loose Screw). Reduced rate copies are still available for $150 plus shipping via my online store or by emailing marisa at

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12:02 PM
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One of my must-read tattoo artist blogs is that of Electric Pick. Beyond his posts of sexy illustrations and trippy tattoo work, his writing on politics and culture are eye-opening reads. Since the beginning of February, he's been sharing his adventures from sailing on a container vessel to Cape Town and now trekking throughout Africa.

We first wrote about Pick in our feature on Conspiracy Inc. in Copenhagen, his home for the last three years (which is the longest he's ever stayed in one studio). His next move, after his African tour, is to Hong Kong--a city he describes as "a constantly busy, evolving and magical environment."

I interviewed Pick about his life as tattooist/part-time spy for my next tattoo tome (on illustrative comic/cartoon work). Here's a taste from our talk:

Your adventures seem to be reflected in your drawings and sketches, but do they also impact your tattoo work?

My tattooing and illustration are tightly bound together but on more of a technical level, to transfer personal ideas is not as easy in tattooing as in illustration. I mean it's on someone else and even though I'm pretty lucky to have most of my customers just come to me with very general ideas, at the end of the day, it's still on them forever and I try to limit the amount of spontaneous personal ideas I put on them. But ultimately my work (whether illustration, painting or tattooing) is me; it's a part of me, and as I change from my travels, it changes too. The more I see weird new things, the more I change my vision of the world and the more I change myself, so it's only natural that my work changes too. It's also kind of why I do it too.

Tell me about your clients. Is there a certain type of person attracted to your work?

Absolutely. I tattoo 'tattoo geeks,' people who will look around for years to find what they truly like, who will go on countless websites and become highly critical, and even though they have never tattooed, will know exactly what they're talking about. I could not be luckier and appreciate the dedication of a huge majority of my customers so much. I think the type of people my work attracts is much more for artistic reasons too rather than technical ones. Most people who start writing to me for possible pieces are more inclined to my work because of the look and the feel and the stylization of my work and because it's not really part of any specific 'tattoo scene.' They are people who are usually in artistic professional fields themselves, and also (maybe even most importantly) they can connect with my vision of things, i.e., space chicks usually don't wear much; most robots from the future are evil and very destructive; cities are endless; the worlds beyond our own hold many dangerous and evil contraptions; and well, zombies and mutants are everywhere.

Read more on Pick's vision of things here and check his tattoo portfolio here.
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