Shop Name: Emporium 1476
Location: Portland, Oregon
When did you know that you wanted to be a tattoo artist?
I’m not sure I ever did, I knew I wanted to do art for a living, and I had tried a lot of avenues and tattooing just stuck. I feel its the hardest medium I’ve tried to learn in art, and also one that allows a different type of experience for the artist. In other types of art I’ve worked with, you have a deadline, you do the work, email it in, and move on to the next; no thank you, no good job, just next. In tattooing I get to see the clients reaction first hand and that’s a great feeling.
Besides tattooing, what other mediums do you work in?
I have done a lot of illustration work for many companies, which has made me be somewhat proficient in a few mediums. Pen and ink mostly, gouache, and most recently acrylic; the medium I am obsessed with now. I am working on three books currently, two graphic novels (on my own), and an art book; all in acrylic and I am loving the figure it out on the fly experience.
Did you have any kind of mentoring early on?
Not really, but the first real shop I worked at (252), there were a few guys that gave me pointers. My old boss and friend Rodney Rose, was the biggest help letting me watch him, and really just teaching me the ropes of the industry. I would have been blindsided by a lot of things if it weren’t for him.
How would you describe your style of tattooing?
Most people tell me its realism and I guess it is, but I really try to push the images you know. I want to add those crazy colors that people can’t figure out, and exaggerate the features by making the eyes bigger, or wrinkles more extreme. I don’t know, I just try to bend it without breaking it. Make it something more than a copy, almost to the point of being a caricature but not quite. It’s really just my illustrative style in tattooing is all.
What artist have influenced you the most?
Geez, that’s a big question. There are always new influences but, if I had to say who has influenced me the longest I’d say: Basil Gogos, Frank Frazetta, Simon Bisley, Glen Fabry, Jim Murray, Drew Struzan, and Alex Ross. I think my “style” is just a combination of me trying to do the things I like about these artist. For example, Gogos color usage has had an enormous impact on me. Frazettas ability to tell a story in every picture really draws you as the audience in. Bisleys work is so raw and brutal. Fabry has a polished look to his work I admire. Alex Ross showed me the correct way reference should be used. Drew Struzan his composition is amazing. And the other artist who has had the biggest impact on me other than Basil is Jim Murray. I love his exaggeration, and color usage; his painting style is a level I hope to reach one day.
In an industry with so many artist, what do you think sets your work apart?
Beats me haha, I’m not the most technically sound artist. I’d like to think people are drawn to my color usage, your definitely not getting the photo you bring me. There are guys out there who can do that better than I could ever hope to, so I don’t try. What’s fun for me is seeing how far I can take the image away from the source material before someone says that doesn’t look right. I will soften lines on women, make the eyes bigger and tilt them a bit. Create edges on men, and make the eyes smaller and darker. Play with wrinkles, add a shit ton of black; I just think it makes my tattoos look brighter. And, of course, add as much color and light sources as possible, but I don’t know, whatever it is I am very grateful people come to me. I’m extremely lucky in that respect.
What advice would you give an aspiring artist that is just getting started?
Take art classes and learn as many mediums as possible, improve in one and you improve in all. Draw every free second you have, I try to fill a page a day in my sketchbook. Work work work; I work like crazy, it’s my passion and it’s what I love, art is an obsession. If it weren’t I couldn’t do it because of how much time it demands, but if its your passion then you will automatically give it the time it requires.