Listening to the thundering sounds of ocean waves crashing towards the beach as a long haired figure effortlessly rides that perfect wave, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were waUhing the opening scenes of "Point Break". But listen more closely and recognise that ever satisfying buzz of a tattoo machine, and you'll soon realise its not Bodhi or johnny Utah, it's in fact Shakey Pete!
tattoos. Really tribally tilings. So me, wanting to jump onto tlie bandwagon also got some squiggly tribally things done on me. It wasn't until after university, a few years after working on building sites and stuff, I just had a couple of piercings, and through, piercing, that's how I got into tattooing.
YOU WORKED AT MADAME SUITE RELY IN HASTINGS, WERE YOU THERE EOR LONG?
About two and a half, nearly three years.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION TO START TATTOOING?
Desperation! (Laughing) Something to do really. I sort of thought to myself that if I don't get into tattooing I would have been working on building sites for the rest of my life. It was pretty much like "that's it, I've got to get into tattooing and I've got to get really good."
ARE YOU FROM AN ART BACKGROUND?
Yeah, I've always done it. Its like my grandparents in Portugal, they've always done art and are kind of semi-famous artists really. But I've always drawn since I was a kid, all the way through school I just doodled on the back of maths books and stuff. And all the way through university as well, just painting and drawing and.. .1 never really stopped.
WAS MADAME BUTTERFLY'S THE E1R5T STUDIO YOU WORKED IN?
Ei, that was...the sixth! I went through six studios in three years because I just wanted to get into a studio. The first one was in Bognor and tliat was the guy who taught me how to pierce. There were some bad tilings that happened in that studio, so I had to leave! Then I went back to Australia and worked in two studios there. Then I came back and worked in one in Brighton, wtiich wasn't good. Then one in Peterborough. So, yeah. Lots of studios. But it's just getting your foot through the door. It was just...I mean, I wasn't that good at tattooing, I'd worked on a few friends, and myself, and that was it. It's like...you start at the bottom, the studios that aren't good, where you just want to make money! So yeah. Just get your head in, knock out some work, and get started.
HOW DID YOU FIND THE PROCESS OF TATTOOING TO START WITH? DID YOU FIND IT EASY TO PICK UP?
To be honest, I was a bit arrogant, I thought I was really good in the beginning and everyone
SO...YOU'RE NOT A UK NATIONAL?
Ho, I was born in Australia
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN OUT HERE THEN?
Er...since 1 was ten or eleven I think...I'm half Portuguese so I spent a lot of time in Portugal as well. I've got grandparents out there.
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN TATTOOS AND WHEN WERE YOU FIRST AWARE OF THEM?
Aah (laughing) long story. It wasn't until I was at university, a couple of my friends had a few tattoos on them, but they were pretty nasty
Shakey Pete is without question a unique tattooist. Half Portuguese and an Australian national, he currently calls Newquay home where he has brought his laid back approach to both tattoos and life along with him for the ride. Happiest tattooing a plethora of colourful outlandish tattoos and catching the world's waves, the last six years of his life liave been divided between just that. Completely down to earth and mad as a box of frogs, you are sure to never meet another man like the surfer tattooist Shakey Pete!
than if someone showed you what you were doing. I did make a lot of mistakes.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TATTOOING NOW?
Since February 2004.1 moved to Newquay in April 2009.
WAS IHAI FOR THE SURFING?
A Pretty much! Yeah, I mean. While I was at Madame Butterfly's I was pretty miserable the last year I was there, just because I used to come back here every two or tliree weeks. 1 used to get so tired with the six-hour drive, stay for a day, tattoo a few friends, drive back the next day and work a solid week. So one day I said, that's it, I'm just going to move to Newquay, then one day that did happen!
was patting me on the back going " aw yeah, you're really good!" and looking back on it I was...pretty shocking.
$0 YOU BELIEVED IK IHE HYPE, SORT0T THING?
Pretty much! I was doing really basic work but I thought I was amazing. I wasn't. Yeah. At the moment I'm just drawing everything, every tiling's custom and it's kind of like... just progress and do something new. That's what's getting hard at the moment, trying not to duplicate yourself.
Like, you look at your old tattoos and try and progress. That's the hard bit. Wot looking at anyone else's cos you'll just end up copying them! I don't buy any tattoo magazines anymore, I hardly look at the Internet, I just post my own work on there. Its just head down and do my own thing.
IHAI'S QUITE AN IMPRESSIVE WAY 0E DOING IT REALLY, BECAUSE YOU DO SEE A LOT Of PEOPLE...NOT NECESSARILY COPY, BUI REPLICATE THE SAME STYLE...I SUPPOSE IF YOU'RE NOT LOOKING AT IT, YOU'RE NOT INFLUENCED BY IT... That's it!
SO WHAI'S YOUR STYLE?
Yeah, pretty much. Like neo...non realistic... traditional... ish...kind of! I just like to do things with humour at the moment. There are so many tattooists out there just all serious and...there's just no fun in it. I like to make my tattoos a bit of fun to look at. Have almost a little story about them. Like all the little birds, or something, just looking at each other and stuff... just kind of put some humour in there.
SO DID YOU HAVE A PROPER STANDARD APPRENTICESHIP OR DID YOU GET TAUGHT BITS AS YOU WENT ALONG?
Entirely self-taught! (Laughing) Wtiich is the worst way! I spent like, six months in my basement learning how to build needles, then going to tattooists and asking them what they thought, and then just getting told off and going back, then doing some drawing, eventually, like, tattooing myself and everything, showing them, getting thrown out again, tattooing a few friends, which was a pretty long way of doing it. It probably takes twice as long going down the self-taught route
I CAN SEE WHY YOU MOVED HERE, IT'S PRETIY MUCH OK THE MAIN COAST...
Yeah, pretty much. I kind of moved here. And I opened up a surf shop/tattoo shop on the other side of town. But I opened it with surfers who were really slack at paying bills! (Laughing) and slack in general...and I was out back and if no-one was covering the front desk, they'd just close the entire shop and I'd be like, "well, I need it open so I can carry on tattooing!" Thati)
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I DON'T BUT ANT TATTOO MAGAZINES ANTMORE, I HARDLY LOOK AT THE INTERNET, I JUST POST MT OWN WORK ON THERE. ITS JUST HEAD DOWN AND DO MT OWN THING.
had a thigh piece done by Sabado at Tattoo Jam in Doncaster last year...
HAVE YOU TATTOOED AT ANY CONVENTIONS?
I worked at Brighton the year before last. It's really the only convention I've ever worked at. I did the first and second one. I did get offered quite a few of the other ones, because I could work London and so on. I just go to conventions to look at other good tattooists and buy supplies. I don't really mingle that much with other tattooists. I'm not a very sociable person anyway...
HAVE YOU HAD ANY FORMAL ART TRAINING?
Not really. Even though I went to Art College up North, they did try and show me stuff but I was a bit of an idiot and wanted to do it my way. I always got bad marks as well. I just scraped through GCSE art. So even at university I didn't get better marks, I kind of ignored every brief they gave me really.
WHAT If IT ABOUT TATTOOING THAT INSPIRES YOU? WHAT DO YOU ENJOY?
It kind of almost puts you into a trance, It's like when I was doing my paintings and stuff, you kind of get in the zone if you do it for a couple of hours. It's the same with tattooing, even though you can be doing it for hours on end, once you're into it you kind of just get really focused, didn't really work and we only lasted, like, four months, then I just kind of moved in here. This is like a proper shop; the other one was just a half arsed, kind of surf shop that didn't last long. No one could be bothered; they just wanted to smoke and surf!
YOU WERE SAYING EARLIER ABOUT THE TATTOOING BEING A BIT SEASONAL HERE?
Yeah, July, August, you can't move out there for the people. But, as soon as the end of September hits, it's like... (sound of tumbleweed in the wind...) it kind of picks up, probably like May. Or June. I mean, every now and again you get a week of sun...a lot of people round here come down visiting anyway, so I've just been tattooing a lot of friends on and off, so I'm always kind of ticking over.
ARE YOU PLANNING ON STAYING HERE EOR A WHILE?
I'm going to New Zealand soon, and then I'm in Australia, working at Holdfast tattoos in Perth for two months. Cos I worked there last year, and they kind of offered me a job, and I was like "I'm opening a shop in Newquay!
Where do I go?" My girlfriend's there and everything. That all went wrong so it's like, Oh. Maybe I shouldn't stay around; but I don't like the cold here. It's horrible. Australia's got some of the most amazing waves. The owner of the studio surfs, and no one else in That shop surfs, so as soon as I get there it's like (getting progressively higher pitched) "yeah lets go surfing. Yeah!" So yeah. It's pretty rare.
IS THERE ANYONE WHO PARTICULARLY INSPIRES YOU TATTOO-WISE?
Yeah, it's more tattoo-wise now; I don't really follow the art scene that much, what with tattooing full time... so that's it really. I love a lot of the crazy Japanese tattooists like Sabado and a few of the others. Yeah, it's staying a bit more traditional like some of the others from Cat Claw in Japan. The tattoos they put out they're just weird as, it's like "what the hell?" It's more those kind of guys who make me open my eyes a bit more, it's like you can go completely freaky on these weird things. It's so solid; the line work's amazing. The whole drawing's spot on. So smooth, the shading as well its like "How do you do that?" I actually
I CAN'T MAKE A LIVING PAINTING; I TRIED THAT. SO NOW I MAKE A LIVING OUT OF TATTOOING SILLY THINGS ON PEOPLE.
you don't think about the time or anything. That's what I like about it. I can't make a living painting; I tried that. So now I make a living out of tattooing silly things on people.
HOW 00 TOU GO ABOUt GIVING A HUMOROUS EDGE TO YOUR TATTOOS?
The customer usually comes in with normal ideas, I then draw my own style, and its kind of fifty-fifty, if the customer suddenly freaks out and goes, "what the hell is that?" or "That's amazing! 1 would have never thought of that!" I'm tattooing a lot of friends at the moment and they kind of know my creative style, so I get to push the boundaries a little bit more. Regular customers just give me a normal brief and I just kind of draw something I'd like on myself, and put it on them, really.
WHO HAS TATTOOED YOU?
Sabado. Chad Koeplinger; that was brutal! Rebecca (Madame Butterfly) did my belly, my legs. Wick Baxter did my sleeve...it's a massive vagina on my arm.
NICK'S WORK IS INCREDIBLE. DID YOU PICK UP ANY TIPS FROM HIM WORKING ON YOU?
Yeah, I went out there four times when he was back in Connecticut, once when he moved to Austin. It's kind of a year and a bit old now. Out of everyone I've been tattooed by, his was the most eye-opening experience, Cos before, it was just like work from dark to light, you need to do it as a tattoo, heavy outline first, then you fill it in. Then you go up there, Wick draws it all on and everything, and sets out all his inks like you would do with a painting. There's no outline at first, just big fields of block colours to plan it all out, and it's so much more like a painting than a tattoo. You can put black lines over fresh, light colours. It was just stuff like that; it was such an eye opener, I can just do this any way I want. When I draw a tattoo and colour it in on paper, it's not how I would do it on skin. I'm slowly getting more into the way I paint now and I'm doing it more loosely instead of a really strict way of say, these colours first and these colours next I'll just put solid ink in first and think about other colours later.
ARE THERE MANY STUDIOS IN NEWQUAY?
There are about 5 now. I opened up in April, and then Qllie opened up. You can either have surf shops, pubs or get a tattoo in Newquay. The council are a bit...we got no help with our business at all. We got a bit of reduced business rate, but we asked them for help and they didn't want to know. That's the way they are in this town. If you're not selling food or drink...they don't want to know. That's what they want to make this town famous for, which is a shame.
DO YOU FIND TIME TO PAINT?
Hot really. All I do is tattoo! Even when I worked at the other studios, it was just tattooing all the time. If I got a free day, it was just catching up on drawing. That's what was getting me down; I wasn't having any fun. I wasn't surfing. It's much more relaxed here; I can come and go as I please. The more time you've got to draw something, the more relaxed you are, like you're not stressing that you've got to draw that for tomorrow.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR THE STUDIO?
I'll be here, for a while. As long as I get to tattoo and surf every day, that's all I want to do at the moment, so we'll just see how it goes at the moment. This town is a bit of a nightmare in the summer, but right now its really nice and I've got a lot of friends here. It's a really nice close-knit town. Almost like living in the seventies, those weird little surf towns you used to read about in America, It takes you twenty minutes to walk down the road because you bump into so many people and you have to say hi.
SO, HAS THE HORRIBLE TV ROCK STAR TATTOOIST CULTURE KIT DOWN HERE?
Especially last summer. Every day I spent tattooing stars. It's horrible. This Cheryl Cole hand tattoo thing's catching up quickly. People come in "I want one of those?" We don't do hands unless you're completely covered. Unless you're a popstar. Are you a pop star? No.S
lEBtie 134 www.gtditdeep.co.ult 33
IN THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES TATTOOING WAS STILL CONSIDERED CRIMINAL, RUT NOW EVERYMAN AND THEIR DOG HAS A TATTOO.
DO VOU DRAW IHE LINE AT HANDS AND NECKS?
Unless they're really covered and you can tell people will just go "if I can't have it there, there's nowhere else to have it.' If there's no other tattoos and they want one on their hand first time round its like... .wait there. Think about this. Its just people following other people. The sheep mentality. You try and educate people, and a lot of times it's like talking to a brick wall. You might find someone else who'll do it, but we won't. It's on there for life!
DO VOU LIKE THE CROSSOVER BETWEEN THE SURF AND TATTOO CULTURE?
There is a bit of a link between surf culture and tattoo culture. There is tike a nice little family, there's also this thing where everyone copies board designs and stuff, the boards that 1 ride are very different to what everyone rides. They're based on the seventies design, and I kind of paint my own ones. It takes a long time. It took me a month solid to paint my last board.
DO VOU THINK THERE ARE TOO MANY STUDIOS IN THE UK AT THE MOMENT?
At some point, it is going to get a bit quieter with tattooing; it's not going to be as popular. Everyone keeps saying that it keeps getting more popular, but one day, it will die down. Hopefully a lot of these studios won't survive, but, who knows, there are sixteen year olds who want to get tattooed and these studios do it. What can you do? The parents come in and say what about parental consent? But its like no, it's the law, it's eighteen, but you can tell that some other studio will say yes to that. It's like fighting a losing battle. You don't really see that in Australia cos you can't just open up a studio. A lot of the studios over there, and there aren't that many, are controlled, and the quality is getting a lot better than...in England.. .so for that reason it is kind of cool.
WHAT DO VOU USE TO PAINT?
Poster pens. It's quicker than painting because its like paint in a felt tip. It's good to get nice smooth fades, and you're working on a really soft kind of blank. Stuff like the attitudes from the sixties and seventies when it really started off, they were classed as bums, with no hope. They started getting together and making competitions and now it's a multi-million pound industry, that's kind of like tattooing. In the sixties and seventies tattooing was still considered criminal, but now everyman and their dog has a tattoo.
IT'S NOI AS MUCH OF A SUBCULTURE ANYMORE...
Yeah, its rubbish. But the art's amazing, some of the stuff that's coming out now. If you just look at magazines from two or three years back, the work's ok. But if you look at one now it's like amazing!
/. Shawn Barber 2; Jean "Turf One"
Jean "Turf One" Labourdette www turfisin.com incognito Tattoo
750 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA S1101-2131 (626) 664-9448 www.incogni totattûû.com
/. Shawn Barber 2; Jean "Turf One"
Balancing the theatrical, vaudeville-esque works of Jean "Turf One" Labourdette with the realism of Shawn Barber, "Life Size" brought gallery-goers two distinct takes on portraiture and tattooing. The contrasting styles of Paris-native Labourdette and New Yorker Barber even made some wonder how the two were singled out for the collaboration.
Sitting down with the artists at the Yves Laroche gallery on the eve of opening night, all their works neatly propped up against the wall in a line, waiting to be hung, it didn't take long to discover that Barber and Labourdette are not all that different. In fact, before the interview even starts, I'm shown the one piece that has already made it onto the wall: a portrait of gallery owner Yves that is comprised of two separate panels hanging side by side. Turns out that Barber and Labourdette each painted half and only saw each other's work when it was time to put the painting together. Needless to say, the two are perfect compliments to one another and appear to mirror the yin and yang relationship of the artists themselves.
Beginning our chat with a look back at the roots of their artistic careers, Barber recounts that as a cliild, one of his greatest pastimes was drawing, but art was not something he took seriously until he headed back to school in his mid-twenties. Attending the Rmgling College of Art in Florida and studying towards his B.F.A. Degree, he was met with what could be classified as the defining moment in his career when he made the choice to become a professional artist: "Seeing rapid progression and seeing the personal enthusiasm from the act of making something from nothing was very invigorating and I think at that point, I was twenty-seven or twenty-eight, and I didn't want to work for anybody so I was going to do it no matter what."
750 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA S1101-2131 (626) 664-9448 www.incogni totattûû.com
Jean "Turf One" Labourdette www turfisin.com
Life Size) Exhibition t^^^to^vuv ^ra™^ , ., i ancj immortalized in a what happens —^^ — "—on w„„ one when they staged a two-man exhibits enMled, Ufe S,ze.
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The evolution and shaping of his style, whether conscious or not, occurred at school, "It forces you into dealing with repetition, working with a deadline, and also being exposed to several hundreds of different opinions and ideas on aesthetics and directions of where you can take your ideas", and in galleries and museums where one truly can witness and learn from the history of art.
Selling his first work as a "professional" artist in 1999, which was " a large-scale loose, brushy painting of John Coltrane," Barber hasn't looked back since. Developing a recognizable aesthetic and slowly melding a place for himself as one of America's greatest contemporary artists. Barber's portfolio boasts an eclectic mix that can only be signature to a brilliant talent or eccentric madman, or maybe a mix of both. Flip through his work and you'll find paintings of tattoo icons from his famed "Tattooed Portraits" series lying side-by-side with commercial illustrations such as a portrait of President Obama from the cover of the Wall Street Journal's inauguration issue.
Jean "Turf One" Labourdette's path into the world of painting reads similarly. Interested in drawing since he was a child, Labourdette's passion for skateboarding led him to become involved in France's emerging graffiti scene in the '80s and, with time, to "painting canvases in the same aesthetic let's say on rainy days." The reality of the need to pay for such necessities as rent soon began setting in and Labourdette took on commercial illustrations and in 1996 became an illustrator of comics for French hip-hop magazine Radikal.
Equivalent to Barber's defining trip back to school was Labourdette's move to Montreal in 2001. "I was tired of Paris at the time. It's an amazing city, but to live there on an everyday basis can be quite overwhelming so in the end you don't really take advantage of what's good about it, says, justifying his move. And just as he changed scenery, he decided to also change the focus of his work: "I was getting a little tired of doing illustrations and dealing with clients and I felt like I needed to figure out what would come out if I was to paint for myself, create for myself and not for clients' requests."
The first point of difference with his co-exliibttor Barber is revealed when it comes to the formal training aspect: "My dad was an artist and a teacher at Les Arts Appliques, a big Arts school in Fiance, but he never really formally taught me anything. It's just that sinceO
1: Shawn Barber 2: Jean "Turf One"
1: Shawn Barber 2: Jean "Turf One"
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I was a kid he kind of encouraged me to paint, giving me the tools to paint if I wanted to and giving me lots of comics. So, I think a lot of my knowledge for drawing or nations for drawing come from reading comics,"Qie says.
When it comes to his unique and eccentric works - think midgets, pigeons, skulls and, of course, tattoos - Labourdette strives to do the opposite of what all those years as a commercial illustrator taught him. "Being an illustrator, you try to convey a message clearly to the audience or reader or whatever, as a painter what I try to do is the opposite. I just try to channel whatever images come from my subconscious and give them a life, a shape, so I don't try to rationalize too much," he explains and jokes, "As I
often say, my shrink could probably tell much more about my work than myself because it's not really my job to analyze it, it's just to create it."
Barber, on the other hand, prefers to embrace realism on canvas and his 'Tattooed Portraits' series lias brought him great acclaim as he continually delivers portraits that are often eerily representative of their subject. Ongoing for several years now, the latest additions featuring the likes of Bryan Cliilds, Jeff Rassier and Kim Saigh, the series started out by fluke, as most great tilings do. 1 did some self-portraits and painted some friends that were tattooed, then 1 moved to San Francisco,' he pauses and laughs, It's all San Francisco's fault!" Citing inspirations, he offers a wide selection of artist friends from that very city, such as Henty Lewis, Kim Cogan and Grime, along with timeless greats such as Velasquez.
The biggest challenge foi Baiber so far has been "especially older figures, (the tattoos are) hard to lead or the work itself is poor. It's harder to recreate that than it is to recreate something that's done well, I think." What has gotten easier with time though, is finding subject matters; "The more of these painting I do, when people see them they're more likely to open up knowing that I'm not trying to exploit them, you know? "
Having worked with, so many greats in the industry, it's 110 surprise that when asked to pick a favourite portrait to date, Barber's initial reaction is; "That's a hard one, man. That's fucking hard." After a brief moment he comes back with a decision: Stanley Moskowitz. "Stanley is a very large part of American tattoo history and he's a story teller and he's generous with his time and excited to share his own history," he explains and continues, "And the guy randomly calls me all the time just to shoot the shit. He's seventy-seven years old and he actually tattooed me in Philadelphia, drinking a lot of Polish vodka. He's a cool dude." The result? "A piranha with a bloody hammer, and if you know Stanley, you'll understand."
While on the subject of tattoos, it's time to take the conversation into new territory. Prominent features in the works of both artists; tattoos almost
become a separate character in then artwork. Asked about their fascination for ink, Labourdette is the first to recall that it's been there since childhood: "At the comer store you could get that chewing gum that had the little tattoos and I was getting crazy and being all proud of wearing those," he lauglis. And with time that, affinity and passion only grew stronger and lie explains why; "1 find it interesting as story telling. It tells a lot about the life of a character and I find the relationsliip of ink and skin has something magical about it. It's art, it's testimony of a life and it's art that evolves with a person. (Art) that's alive and that will die eventually, one day."
Labourdette's first tattoo came at the age of twenty after a long period of hesitation because, as he recalls, "it took a long time being stuck at the first tattoo stage where you're like, 'I'm going to get one tattoo and it's going to define who I am forever!' The long-awaited choice was finally made, Arabic calligraphy on his back, but his real tattoo dream didn't come true until much later, when he finally met one of his idols: Tin-Tin.
"I'd been a fan of his work forever, since I was seventeen maybe? I always wanted to get a diagon done by him and then I didn't have the money and then I moved to Montreal," recounts Labourdette. So when Tin-Tin came to the Montreal convention two years ago, it was settled: he was getting his Tin-Tin tattoo. Money still tight, the two struck a deal and Labourdette paid for his work with an original painting:
Tattoo Art "uppSamanC
'The moté of these pointing / d&uffien people see them they td mete timely fe-opett up (yteiOing th<tf I'm net trying foexploit them, yea fyteuJ?" - ShqjJh aqrber a portrait of Tin-Tin in a suit and aviator goggles, holding a carving knife and pigeon.
Returning to Barber, he soon begins talking about his newest career endeavour: tattooing. Beginning in 2007, he apprenticed with Mike Davis, to whom he was introduced by Iris then-studio mate, and now works at Incognito Tattoos in California as well as in the private studio he shares with Kim Saigh. Relatively new to the craft he admits, "I don't have a style, I haven't done that many tattoos, (but) I've been doing more black and grey and I think I'm learning the most from it, for sure," And he soon admits that using his artistic knowledge to help others learn is always satisfying as well: "I think a lot of tattoo artists are phenomenal artisans and they're mostly self-taught and hungry for any kind of morsel of knowledge and information that will help them get to a point that they haven't been yet. And, you know, if 1 can help them in any way with that, in a few hours, why the hell not? " Also involved with lecturing and hosting painting demonstrations across the States, his greatest piece of advice is that of a straight-edged realist: "Nobody's going to hold your hand and do it for you so, the only way to get somewhere is to put the time in." ©
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When it comes to his own ink, Barber got his first tattoo at the age of sixteen and it was a black-costumed Spider mail on his leg, which he in fact does not cherish as a memento: "It's gone through one session of laser removal, (and going to go through more) pretty soon, I have a lot of great tattoos and I want more great tattoos, and I have enough bad ones to have memories from."
As for their paintings, it seems that time is also an instigator and driver of change, and both admit to never being fully satisfied with their works. "There's always things that I'm not happy with in a painting," says Labourdette bluntly and explains, "there's a lot of things you can master or be in control of in a painting, but it's also a second alchemy of a lot of factors that just work or don't work and there's a lot of things that you can't fully plan," Barber agrees, "Unfortunately, or fortunately I think, some of the pieces I've kept I continued to pick at (since they've been shown)."
Wrapping things up, I figure it's best to leave with a question that requires some reflection over one's entire career and catalogue; does art get easier with time and volume?
"It's probably harder now because sometimes I'm trying to push it further, I just want to learn and challenge myself and I'm very critical of myself. I get a little bit obsessive and that makes it harder on myself, but it's not hard. I do it because that's what 1 love doing and I'm fortunate enough that I make a living doing what I love to do," admits Labourdette and Barber immediately picks up on the matter of ease, offering an extremely to-the-point response that I now realize is signature Barber: "It's the easiest job in the world, it's not hard!" he chuckles and elaborates, "You're alone doing your thing, not like tattooing where you have to deal with another person, I think when people say "You're being bold" or "brave with your work," it's a fucking painting; you're drawing a picture. It's not that bigofadeal!"
Both artists will be holding exhibitions in the coming year, in North America and Europe, and Barber is always open to tattoo appointments, so be sure to keep track of two of today's most innovative and exciting talents. Just remember, don't call them bold.
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