“you definitely have to bring something new to the table that hasn’t been seen before to make a big impression "
We headed to Fudoshin Tattoo Studio, North London to meet owner and artist Steve Morante, the acclaimed artist is renowned for his Japanese work. We asked why this genre and what advise he has for any aspiring artists.
So Steve tell us how and when you got into tattooing? was art something that had always been part of your life?
I was always massively into art as a kid. Art and sports were pretty much the only things I ever seemed to do. How I got in to tattooing was through my friend taking in a design that I had done for him to get tattooed, the artist seemed to be really impressed with what I had produced and he offered me an apprenticeship and from that day I’ve never looked back.
Your obviously known for your Japanese artwork. what attracted you to this genre?
From the beginning of my career I was always inspired by Japanese art and culture, Whether it be calligraphy, manga or wood block prints. I can remember seeing a book from Kuniyoshi which blew my mind but to be honest the time I really started drawing and tattooing Japanese style was after meeting Jason Saga (rip) who became a good friend and a huge influence in my work.
Why do you think people are enamoured with tattoo art? Specifically, especially with the popularity of social media, tattooed models have become increasingly popular. Why do you think this is? What is the attraction? Deep human need to change everything around us, including our own skin, or just a love of beauty?
I think nowadays tattoos are more accepted in mainstream positions and people who would had never been interested in getting tattooed before like models because it would’ve been detrimental to their careers have now seen a niche in the market and you can see a lot of tattooed models getting high profile work now through being heavily tattooed. I think definitely through social media, people can express themselves more openly than before and tattooing is obviously an individual way of expressing yourself. I think the companies that are trying to sell a product know that it also looks cool as shit - Haha.
Do you think there is a common misconception people have about the industry that you are in?
If I’m honest i thought that misconceptions was something of the past but I recently see a doctor in a hospital and when she asked what I did for a living she was shocked at how polite I was because her view of heavily tattooed people was that they were either an ex criminal or rough and ready person which were her own words. She said she was pleasantly surprised with having the conversation we had. Definitely took me back a little because I thought we were well past that. I feel there will forever be people with issues and think that it's acceptable to openly state how they feel about tattoos yet would be devastated if you made a comment about what they wore or how they looked.
What makes a good artist?
As far as I’m concerned a good tattoo artist is someone who can apply a tattoo technically well. Art overall is an individual thing and what one person loves another might not, but If the tattoo is done technically well whether I like the subject matter or not, it wouldn’t matter to me, I would still be impressed.
What advice would you offer someone considering the industry as a career? And what would you say to young creatives trying to find their style or voice?
Right now the tattoo industry is saturated so it’s very hard for new t
artists to thrive and make a good business from it , you definitely have to bring something new to the table that hasn’t been seen before to make a big impression. But as far as giving advice I would say it’s not important in trying to find a style so early on if you haven’t tattooed yet. Become a tattooer first and learn all styles, so you can become technically good and then you can push towards a style. That’s not saying don’t draw and paint what you love now because the more passion you put in to a portfolio the more impressive it will be and you’ll have a better chance of getting an apprenticeship. On that point, the best advice I can give anyone is try to get an apprenticeship under a good tattooer and definitely avoid any tattoo schools or academies where they tell you you can tattoo after a couple of weeks with a tattoo certificate. My apprenticeship took 3 years and it was another 3 years before I felt I was getting somewhere. I’ve been tattooing for 26yrs and I’m still learning everyday. A two week school is ridiculous.
Here at The Hobo Journal we love to travel hence the name, where is the best place you have visited and why?
I’ve travelled a lot, I’m a gypsy it’s in my blood. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Philippines with my family and that place always resonates as home. Life moves at a slower pace and I definitely feel that I can relax and breathe there. But if I was to talk about tattoo related travel I would say a little closer to home. I try to get out to Denmark and guest with Henning at royal tattoo as much as I can, I always come back fuelled with inspiration and I’m always stoked to get back home to draw, paint and tattoo after every visit. You need to love what you do. Some of my closest friends I’ve made through this industry, this is definitely more than just a job to me.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer