You arc one tattooist I have to ask about London Ink! What impact did the two series have on your life?
My life hasn't really changed. I've always been busy and now I've got my own shop I am busier than ever. I suppose the only difference the TV show made is that people arc flying in from all over ihe world to get tattooed here. Mind you. I tattooed one guy from Switzerland and he had no idea I had been in a TV show! He just came here for the work we do which is cool. Doing the show was a lot of fun l( was all about representing tattooing in a good light.
So. let's talk about Magnum Opus... is it panning out how you thought it would?
We've been open 14 months so it is still a baby but it's going really well. We have a relaxed, friendly atmosphere here which is good for us and for the customers. I have only two rules in the studio. Rule number one is: No drama. Rule number two is: Don't break rule number one!
We have a great team. Everyone is pumping out the type of work they want to do. Our styles all complement each other too. I didn't want a shop where everyone does the ^ame style. I still mainly do Western traditional. I like doing Japanese slut! hut I don't get to do it that often. As well as the tattooists we have Tiff who docs piercing and scarification and Shone who manages the shop and does laser tattoo removal.
You are somewhat itinerant. having been born in the States, lived in France for a while and now running a business in the I'K. Do you class England a« >our home?
I have always been drawn to England and all things British. My first experience of tattoos was seeing them on an old English guy who lived next door to my parents in Baltimore. He was covered in them and I loved them. When I was about five or six 1 to'J my folks that I was going to look like him one day.
At what point did you decide you wanted to be a tattooist?
I was collccting tattoos as a teenager and doing lot- and lots of drawing. My friends used to say I should tattoo them but I knew even then that I u ar.:ed :o leant the trade properly before I tattooed anyone. At one point I was d.'irig drawings !. r a newspaper in Baltimore for SI0 a week. It may not have been much mono i a lea« I was doing something artistic. I used to take drawings into the tan.. <h< -p w here I got tattooed Main Street Tattoo just outside Baltimore Finally. ¿:ter ahou: four years, they offered me an apprenticeship. That was about 6 year^ ¿go oc a It was a true, old school ^^
apprenticeship too I w as the lowest of the !->w but it taught me what I should and
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shouldn't do as a tattooer. Thai kind of training sticks in your head. This is why those of us who have done apprenticeships get so bent out of shape when we see people teaching themselves and working from home. We had to work so hard to earn what we have achieved. We got where we are through hard work. Then some joker buys a kit oil the internet and starts fucking up all his friends, giving them hepatitis and had tattoos. I can't have that happening to tattooing. It doesn't show any respect for the art.
Were things hotter when equipment was harder to come by?
Yes. Many things arc better nowadays but when it comes to the availability of equipment, the old way was definitely the best. That's why I was determined to give Bob an old-fashioned apprenticeship. That way you learn respect for what has gone before. It's the same as in martial arts - the sensci wants his pupil to be better than he is. to lake thing» to the next level. A tattooist should be humble enough to allow hi> pupil to overtake him. If you stay humble you will also keep learning. A big ego will just get in the way of your progress.
What would you do If you couldn't be a tattooKt?
Fuck. I don't know! Maybe open a pizzeria or be a ptrate!
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