Black Label Tattoos – Duncan, BC
How did you get into tattooing?
I was a gallery oil painter for a number of years, and it was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. The funny thing about a career in fine art is, even if you are successful, your income is constantly fluctuating by large degrees; the grind gets exhausting! I’d always toyed with the idea of tattooing, but never really pursued it seriously. It was only by chance that I met Joshua Carlton, online, thanks to Facebook. We struck up a friendship based on my admiration for his tattoo work, which completely re-framed my expectations of the medium, and his desire to learn more about oil painting. One day he offered an apprenticeship to both my wife and I, and we jumped at it. Unfortunately, due to Visa reasons in the US, I was only able to study for about three months with him, but still, this was enough to get me started.
How was the switch from one art medium to another?
The fundamental principles of art are the same, regardless of medium. Whether I’m painting or tattooing, shape, value, edge, line, and colour, are all things I have to think about. And whether you’re a fine artist or a tattoo artist, it’s important to have drawing skills. Having a strong foundation in drawing gives you the ability to represent things objectively, while still being able to express things creatively. That being said, the transition was not as easy as many might expect. Time and time again I have seen fine artists attempt to make the switch and flounder due to unrealistic expectations.
What would you say are some of the major differences between fine art and tattooing?
Compared to the medium of oil paint, I have to say that tattooing sometimes feels a bit narrower in scope, which can honestly be nice. It is one of the few visual art forms that rely on a collaboration between two people; the artist and the client. As a result, you really get some interesting and exciting projects that I couldn’t get away with when painting. For example, I couldn’t try to submit a painting of a T-Rex to a gallery and assume it will be well received! Tattooing as a medium has a far greater mass appeal. Far more people get excited about tattoo work than paintings, and far more people (everyday people with normal pay-cheques) are likely to shell out for tattoo work than a painting. Within these two mediums, I find a good balance between creating work for myself and making work for other people.