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Copyright © 2018 Shut Up and Listen. All rights reserved.

Published in Bloomington, Indiana

TATTOO TAKEOVER

published 11.17

How old are you and where are you from?

 

M: I’m 24 & I’m from Halifax, Nova Scotia originally, but I’ve lived in NY for the past 6 years.

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest?

 

M: I think I gave my first stick n poke when I was 16 or 17, definitely sometime in high school, so it’s always been something I was interested in. I spent a long time feeling like I didn’t have a whole lot of control over my body so I was always looking for ways to subtly shift that dynamic. I went to an all-girls Catholic school my whole life until I moved to the States so I was never given any option on what to wear, how to colour my hair, let alone express anything other than a very normative gender and I really took to tattooing because it was a way to assert control over my body & demand ownership. It just seemed natural to want to help other folks take control of theirs as well!

 

How would you describe your style?

 

M: Like super gay woodcuts? I’ve always been really drawn to that type of printmaking so I think that definitely comes through a little bit in my drawing style, but I don’t actually have any background in printmaking or illustration, so it’s very very loose. 

MARS HOBRECKER

Do you prefer doing designs you’ve created or making custom designs for each client?

M:I have a pretty strong preference for working off my flash. I used to do exclusively custom work, but now that tattooing has become my full time job, it’s become more and more difficult for me to do lots of custom pieces & still manage a work/life balance. I also want to encourage people to be a bit more impulsive and move away from the idea that each individual tattoo has to have some sort of deep meaning. I think just the process of tattooing itself can hold meaning, regardless of what the image is. Besides, it can be kind of interesting to see what happens when you just let yourself be instinctively drawn to something in the moment without overthinking it!

How selective are you when it comes to who or what you tattoo?

 

M: Not at all whom, very much what! These days I mostly tattoo my flash, but when I do take custom work I’m pretty particular about what pieces I take on. Largely just because I’m not that great at drawing! So I’ve learned what types of things I think I do pretty well, and what I know aren’t going to turn out as well as I’d like them to (please never ask me to tattoo a plant!). Other than that, it’s just the obvious rules like no appropriative imagery, no other artists’ work, no Frida Kahlos for white girls.

 

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why?

M: Machine. I used to do hand pokes but it just takes too long! 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture?

 

M: So much! Though I’d like to say I feel incredibly lucky to have found a little place in the sort of alt-tattoo scene (though I’m sure there’s a better name for what I’m talking about). I feel like there’s been this amazing thing happening through instagram where folks working in non-traditional styles, or outside of a shop environment have been able to find each other & create this amazing nurturing community that’s honestly unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of before. All these super talented women & non-binary folks are really redefining what tattoo culture can be, and creating these wonderful safer spaces for themselves & their clients (that are definitely starting to take business away from the trad bros!). That being said there’s lots of room for improvement, and unfortunately my little bubble definitely doesn’t represent the majority of spaces out there. It’s the absolute basics, like just be nice to your client! Don’t make fun of their bodies! Let them have agency! & please please please stop with the super racist imagery! I’ve definitely ranted about this before, but it drives me crazy how tattoo artists get away with so much shit on the basis of ‘tradition’, or just doing ‘what they were asked to’ by their clients. If I scroll through one more artist’s page only to see endless native headdresses & super sexualized geishas (always on white dudes, always by white dudes), I’m gonna lose it.. 

 

What other forms of art do you make? 

 

M: I consider my main artistic practice to actually be performance based, but I haven’t had a whole lot of time to doing anything besides tattooing lately! Y’all keep me too busy!

TATTOO BY MARS HOBRECKER

@MARSHOBRECKER ON INSTAGRAM

SHARNAYLA STALER

Do you prefer using flash designs or making custom ones for each client?

 

S: What I appreciate most with tattooing is the collaborative aspect. A client will bring me a concept and I will apply my aesthetic to it, or, they will ask for a pre-existing design and we add or change the design to suit them.

 

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why?

 

S: The last couple of years I’ve mostly used a machine to tattoo. I hand-poked a few pieces here and there, but recently I made a transition to only hand-poke tattooing.

It requires meticulous precision and the repetitious motion is therapeutic. Hand-poke tattoos are definitely more time consuming but I enjoy challenging my patience.

 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture?

 

S: When I started getting tattoos it was hard to find artists doing styles other than western traditional sailor tattoos. That style didn’t resonate with me, so I detached myself from the tattoo culture and developed my own style. Now there are so many modern styles developing and I really appreciate seeing that!

 

What other forms of art do you make?

 

S: I do photography and painting. I also enjoy working with rope and making macrame, It is an intricate and repetitious process similar to hand-poking. I pull inspiration from religion, mythology and astrology. These ideas are mythical creative concepts that reflect the human condition.

How old are you and where are you from?

 

S: I’m 27 and I’m from the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest?

 

S: I was socializing in a music scene and the majority of the people were embracing tattoos. It was refreshing to see people not conforming to social norms. I received my first tattoos by a professional tattoo artist in his home studio when I was 16. A short while after that a friend acquired a tattoo machine and we organized a gathering to tattoo. That was the first time I ever tattooed someone! I really enjoyed capturing that moment in time, and the giving and receiving of art would be documented on his skin. I wanted to keep experience that with different people.

 

How would you describe your style?

 

S:  Black work, minimal, surreal and delicate.

 

TATTOO BY SHARNAYLA STALER 

@SHARNAYLA ON INSTAGRAM

How would you describe your style?

 

I: At first my skill level set harsh limits- designs had to be minimal with as little lines as possible to get the point across. I didn’t know how to do any shading or textures. Each poke required absolute focus and determination. Lining up a tiny needle to an exact place on skin-just like trying to sew a perfectly straight stitch the way a machine would...Slowly muscle memory took over. My hands began to work reliably almost on their own. I found that I could look up and away from my work for brief periods of time while my hands shaded an area. This dissolving of limitations has allowed my tattoo style to merge with my doodle style. I am free to replicate my drawings or register photographic images into the drawing style for a tattoo. My style is mostly blackwork, linework, illustrative stuff. Color is incorporated upon request but I tend to prefer working in black ink, using contrast, shading, and negative space.

 

How selective are you when it comes to who or what you tattoo?

 

I: It’s all about following the urge to craft and having fun, for me. I won’t do it just for money, and I certainly won’t copy or steal an image just because someone wants it. Other than that, if I am in the mood to tattoo I am not selective about who or what is being done. I once did two tattoos on an alleyway staircase because the time was ripe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why?

 

I: I tattoo -and sew!- by hand mainly because I find it more enjoyable. It is also far more accessible; A tattoo machine requires additional machinery to maintain sterility, all these things require money and space. With handpoke all materials are disposed of every session. Machines are loud and vibrate the body of both people involved, whereas handpoking is peaceful and meditative. Finally, handpoke is a more precise method of injecting ink subdermally. With machines, the motor lifts the needle up and down rapidly as the artist moves the needle across the skin. This results in many perpendicular pokes, but it also causes miniscule ripping or tearing of the skin as the needle is dragged along. For this reason the wound from a tattoo machine can be just like road rash. This is avoided in the handpoke process as deliberate poking does not require the artist to drag the needle through flesh. 

IZZY ONEIRONAUTIA

How old are you and where are you from?

 

I: Born in ‘93 in Oakland, CA.

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest?

 

I: Some time in 2013, my roommate at the time suggested that we order supplies to tattoo ourselves. I was surprised not to have had this idea sooner- in high school I performed a ton of illicit navel and misc. other piercings in the bathrooms; auto-tattoo was a natural progression, I guess.

What other forms of art do you make?

 

I: These days I mostly work with textiles, clay, pen/ink, and digital design stuff! Sewing always feels a lot like tattooing to me, they are both activities I can sit and work for long periods of time uninterruptedly. The other mediums feel different- probably because they don’t utilize needles! 

Do you prefer doing designs you’ve created or making custom designs for each client?

 

I: That really depends. If the idea for the custom design grabs me, it feels just like my own drawing and it can be a fun collaboration. Sometimes I am less enthused with the request, but I tend not to take on work I don’t feel like doing. 

 

If tattooing isn’t your full time gig, how else do you make money?

 

I: My source of income is graphic design- tattoo is only one service of many which falls under this umbrella.

 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture?

 

I: It can be tiring to see people use tattoo as a kind of shallow form of self (or collective?) expression- at the whim of the trend. Wanting something ‘cool’, but not having an actual vision of what they want or think is ‘cool’. When I hear someone say ‘ohhh I want that!’ in response to a tattoo that already exists, I can’t help but feel....tired. Everyone can do whatever they want, but its nice to bring a little originality to the table. Tattoo culture is global and reaches forward and back through time, and I’m just in a tiny subculture bubble...not really in a position to analyze tattoo culture as a whole.

TATTOO BY IZZY ONEIRONAUTIA

@DOUBLE_DREAM ON INSTAGRAM

Do you prefer using flash designs or making custom ones for each client?

 

L: it depends, if someone comes to me with a great idea and there’s a bit of collaboration it feels super satisfying. But also yes, my own flash is the best to do.

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture?

 

L: I wish there was less stigma around stick and pokes. It’s all the same equipment and sanitation if the person has a professional attitude. 

LEE D'ANGELO

How old are you and where are you from?

 

L: I’m 28 and live and work in Toronto, Canada. 

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest?

L: I started publicly tattooing in my last year of University. I was studying illustration and design so in that regard tattooing made sense as a career option. But what really sparked my interest was personal. Tattooing in many was was a mode of self care that I took up during a really dark year if my life. In a lot of ways it saved my life.

 

How would you describe your style?

 

L:  my style is more in line with zine art, I use collage in my illustration making and I love simple line drawings, bold uses of colour and political topics 

How selective are you when it comes to who or what you tattoo?

L: I want to be inclusive and tattoo everyone who is respectful and kind. I want to support trans ppl, ppl of colour, women and I want to tattoo cis men that have good intentions and want to be allies. 

 

I don’t tattoo anything that feels culturally appropriative, and I also want to celebrate people’s heritage.

I’m lucky and don’t often get requests for things that aren’t respectful. 

 

What other forms of art do you make?

 

L: I make animation - claymation specifically and do a lot of sculptural installation work with my partner Beth. She’s a floral designer and we often try and create environments or pieces of work that people can interact with. I want this to intersect with tattooing. We did a project a few months ago where people got tattooed inside one of our living installations.

 

If tattooing isn’t your full time gig, how else do you make money?

 

L: tattooing is my full time job, I also do contract work as an illustrator sometimes.

TATTOO BY LEE D'ANGELO

@RAT666TAT ON INSTAGRAM

JESS CHEN

How old are you and where are you from?

 

J: I’m 26 years old, born and raised in Toronto.

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest?

 

J: I started tattooing about two and half years ago. Prior to my apprenticeship, I was working at a graphic designer. It really wasn’t the job for me. I didn’t enjoy working digitally and following a 9 to 5 timeline. I missed being creative and working on my own terms. After desperately looking into a new career path, I stumbled into the idea of tattooing. So it was a very spontaneous decision for me to go into tattooing. But now looking back, I think I was a perfect candidate. I had a background in fine arts and design and it was the perfect combination for tattooing.

How would you describe your style?

 

J: Minimal, botanical-inspired. I 

hope to bring a sense of elegance in all my tattoos. 

 

Do you prefer using flash designs or making custom ones for each client?

 

J: Both! I love the balance of custom and flash. 

 

How selective are you when it comes to who or what you tattoo?

 

J: Very selective. Tattooing is such an intimate experience so I definitely choose my customers wisely. Most important aspect would be the concept. If I’m vibing on the idea, then that comes first. 

What other forms of art do you make?

 

J: I love to draw now, whereas I use to paint a lot. I feel really connected to drawing at this moment, and that’s probably a result of tattooing so much. Currently, I’ve been working on a new series which explores the textures, silhouettes, and shapes of different plants. Using only pencil crayons I am trying to dive into how I can represent a leaf or floral in a simple yet powerful way.

TATTOO BY JESS CHEN

@__jesschen__ ON INSTAGRAM

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why?

 

J: Tough question, am I allowed to choose both? They both bring such an amazing quality to tattooing and I am happy I ended up learning both techniques. 

 

Hand poke is a slower and patience practice. But the outcome is unlike any other.

 

I’m absolutely in love with the texture and speckled quality of a hand poke. Another advantage of hand poking is that it allows you to tattoo in any space, without being dependent on supplies or electricity. You can bring this practice virtually anywhere, as long as you have the limited supplies it requires. 

 

The machine allows the artist to freehand, and go beyond the stencil.

 

You are able to work faster and therefore on a much larger scale. You can replicate a hand-drawn sketch by moving freely, which is not an option for hand poke. You can blend colors smoothly and play around with shading. I suppose I would choose the machine, simply because it is much more similar to drawing and painting. But I love the balance of using both techniques and sometimes combining the two into one tattoo.

 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture?

 

J: I wish people would respect other artists more, and not rip off their work. You see it so much and it’s become so common that people don’t care anymore. I always get a ton of submissions where clients are asking me to replicate a tattoo that’s already been done. Make it your own! Use it as inspiration but don’t get too attached to it. Ultimately that design belongs to someone else’s body and the artist probably spent a good amount of their time creating it specifically for that customer. Let’s make more unique tattoos :)

 

If tattooing isn’t your full time gig, how else do you make money?

 

J: Right now I am tattooing full time. I do make some money through freelance projects once in a while. Hopefully, in the future, I can focus more on selling my art as well.

MOOREA HUM

How old are you and where are you from? 

 

M: I am 32 and live in Vancouver BC Canada.

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest? 

 

M: I started my apprenticeship in 2005 and started tattooing full time in 2007. I went to art school and while doing my fine arts degree I became fascinated with tattooing and the interactions, connections and stories integrated into this medium, as well as the incredible history it has.

 

How would you describe your style? 

 

M: Clean, pretty, weird, sometimes soft sometimes not?

Do you prefer doing designs you’ve created or making custom designs for each client? 

 

M: I love doing both. Working with clients is always so much fun, I love meeting people and hearing their ideas and collaborating. 

 

Sometimes custom work forces me to draw things I don’t usually work with or think of, which is a good challenge and exercise in drawing. 

 

Tattooing things I’ve drawn that people are interested in is such a treat and I feel very lucky to get to do that as well. 

How selective are you when it comes 

to who or what you tattoo? 

 

M: I try to stick to projects that make sense for my style and lately, focus on projects that allow me to grow or involve larger scale work. I work out of a private studio and do my best to make sure every person that comes through feels welcome and at ease. And I definitely wouldn’t tattoo anything hateful or anything that made me uncomfortable.

 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture? 

 

M: That there was less misogyny/sexism.

 

 

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why? 

 

M: I was trained in a traditional apprenticeship with machines. I learned how to set up, break down and fix machines, build needles, and clean the hell out of everything haha. When and where I started tattooing handpoked tattoos weren’t really a thing you saw people doing. 

 

 

What other forms of art do you make? 

How do they compare to tattooing? 

 

M: I draw and paint when I find the time, I tattoo a lot so I often struggle to find time to do other art making. When I am drawing or painting outside of tattoo work it’s like this beautiful stretching of creative muscles, other times it’s just like art barfing. Haha both are so fun.  The work I make outside of tattooing is often messy layered work, things I can’t do in tattooing.

 

If tattooing isn’t your full time gig, how else do you make money? 

 

M: Tattooing is my full time job, I also have a background in art therapy and used to do both for a brief period of time. I still do art therapy once a week as a volunteer.

TATTOO BY MOOREA HUM

@MOOREAHUM.TATTOO ON INSTAGRAM

REGINA "REX" LARRE CAMPUZANO

How old are you and where are you from? 

 

R: I’m 26 and I’m from Mexico City 

 

 When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest? 

 

R: I started apprenticing when I was 15. I’d always been that kid that drew all over everything and wanted a million tattoos, but when Miami Ink came out it really demystified something for me. Luckily a tattoo shop opened right below the bar my friend was working at and I immediately walked in and asked for an apprenticeship. 

 

 How would you describe your style?

 

R: Illustrative Blackwork, but I love doing color work as well.

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why?

 

R: I love both!!! I mostly Tattoo by machine because I like to do pretty expansive work and machines allow that to happen quicker. Whenever I get the chance, I love the slow and more patient process of hand poking, specially because I like knowing that all the energy put into it is human. 

Do you prefer doing designs you’ve created or making custom designs for each client? 

 

R: I only do custom work for each client. I really love the collaboration process. Forme each piece is a process of body reclamation and working with my client on the somatic flow and ideas of the piece is a crucial part of my process.

 

However, I do flash days every month and donate all the money to a different organization that I want folks to know about. I’m a pretty political person and this has been a way to use my job to help support the work of other comrades I admire. 

 

How selective are you when it comes to who or what you tattoo? 

 

R: I only like to tattoo people that I’ve met prior to the session. A big part of my process is a consultation to make sure that we are both on the same page. If I get bad vibes or I don’t understand the persons idea, I will not tattoo them. This is mostly because I want every piece I work on to be my new favorite, and if a client or a concept is starting to feel like a burden, I’m probably not the right person for the job. I also have some pain issues, so I need to make sure that I take care of my body as well. 

 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture?

 

R: I really wish there were less dicks in it! I personally quit tattooing for about 7 years because of really abusive personalities around it. I think it’s a tough industry and a hardcore job for sure, but so many of my clients (which are mostly women and queer folks) tell me that they’ve never felt comfortable at tattoo shops ‘till sitting at Modern Electric, and i think that really sucks.

 

 

What other forms of art do you make? How do they compare to tattooing? 

 

R: Well, in theory I do digital media and electronic music, but lately all of my extra time has been going into organizing with the Democratic Socialists of America... socialist organizing is kind of an art too, and it is also time consuming, painful and if done right it’s REALLY transformative. 

TATTOO BY REX LARRE CAMPUZANO

@REX_TTT ON INSTAGRAM

ANALY NAKAT

How old are you and where are you from? 

 

A: 35 from a small town in Lebanon

 

When did you start tattooing? What sparked your interest?

 

A: Almost 3 years ago officially. I had dabbled here and there but never took it seriously. When I was younger henna was part of our culture. When I moved to the states and realize art on skin could be permanent, I became obsessed with tattoos.

 

How would you describe your style? 

 

A: Intricate detail obsessed illustrative focusing on the magical, whimsical, dark beauty in life. I love drawing women plants and animals adding decorative elements.

 

Do you prefer doing designs you’ve created or making custom designs for each client? 

 

A: I prefer doing designs I’ve created, but don’t mind making something custom for a client if i have a lot of artistic freedom in the design, with limited guidelines or direction, and the trust that I can provide them with something even better than they imagined.

How selective are you when it comes to who or what you tattoo? 

 

A: I will not tattoo something I am not excited about. It’s not fair to my client to take a piece just for the $, because if i’m not excited about it, I won’t do as good of a job as someone who is. It has to fit within my aesthetics and style or I will recommend another artist. As far as for whom, I will tattoo anyone over 18 who is not in an altered state of mind.

 

Handpoke or tattoo machine? Why?

 

A: Tattoo machine because with all the detail that i do it already takes a long time, so the faster the tattoo machine, the better!

 

What’s something you wish were different about tattoo culture? 

 

A: Ego. Sexism. And the Rock star attitude.  It has been a struggle to find a shop without these components. I crave being in a setting where we inspire each other, learn from each other, and grow together. Where every client is treated with respect and importance!

 

What other forms of art do you make? 

 

A: Painting drawing murals and contributing 2D art to giant sculptures like La Victrola which showed at Burning Man and other events.  How do they compare to tattooing? Tattooing is sharing an intimate moment with someone else and using art to make them feel more unique and beautiful. I want to make sure that the person leaving my shop feels even more confident and self expressed than when they walked in. Painting and drawing I do for me.. and its up to the viewer to enjoy it or not  . take it or leave it. it’s my self expression, and has nothing to do with anyone else.

 

If tattooing isn’t your full time gig, how else do you make money? 

 

A: Tattooing is my main income but I sell paintings drawings and prints as well. I also have gigs where I face paint and body paint, as well as live paint at shows and events.

TATTOO BY ANALY NAKAT

@ANALYNAKAT ON INSTAGRAM