3 Kings Collective – Calgary, AB
My name is Zach Roberts, and I am a black and grey tattoo artist from Australia. I was born in Sydney in 1992; however, I spent my childhood in South Auckland, New Zealand. Growing up I was always interested in art, taking art classes as young as four years old! From a young age, I was drawn to tattoos and the tattoo culture itself. I had initially considered tattooing as a career path when I was finishing high school, but due to the lower average income, I decided to look into other careers. When I was eighteen, what was supposed to only be a four-day holiday to the Gold Coast, somehow turned into a one-way trip that would change my life forever. I had no plans and no real direction, but bouncing around different hostels and living out of a backpack gave me a new-found appreciation for travel.
I began my tattoo apprenticeship in September of 2012, at Gold Coast Tattoo. I spent two years there before moving to Loco Tattoo, and that’s when I realized my passion was black and grey realism. I worked with some incredibly talented artists from whom I was able to learn a lot about realism tattooing. Portraits quickly became my favourite thing to draw and tattoo.
In July of 2015, I left Australia with my backpack and tattoo machines, and headed for England where I spent nine months tattooing and exploring; spending time in England, Barcelona, Ibiza, Scotland, Amsterdam, and Prague.
In May of 2016, I made the move to Canada where I currently reside and co-own 3 Kings Collective. It was somewhere I had always imagined settling down, and after a short time here I had fallen in love with the Canadian lifestyle. On my third day in Calgary I secured a job in a shop and began building a clientele, meeting some amazing people in the process.
Tell us about the equipment you use?
Machines: I’ve been using the Cheyenne machine for a few years now, but I recently switched to the Sol Nova Pen and I can honestly say it’s by far the best I’ve used! It punches hard to get those solid lines, even with bigger needles, and it produces the smoothest shading of any machine I’ve used before.
Ink: I use Eternal Triple Black. I set up 6 caps; 2 are usually filled with black, another is a 3 drop, a 1 drop, one straight water, and one for fusion white. For a lot of my lighter shades I will dip in the black and then dilute in the water. This gets a lighter tone, however, I find it typically heals the same tone as it goes in. I like to get my contrasts up as much as possible. To achieve this, I get my backgrounds and hair in first; this helps me gauge the contrast for the rest of the piece. I find that when I use this method, it reduces the risk of over-shading the piece. It also reduces the work time and irritation to the skin. For more detailed pieces, I get all my dark tones done first, then make a second pass with medium and light tones to sharpen up details.