“I CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF MUSHROOM HUNTING”
We get an inside track on one of the industries most respected artists and ask him how he got into the industry and how his art has evolved over the years, his greatest achievement so far and future aspirations.
When I was growing up I actually wanted to be in the military, and I really wanted to be a marine sniper for ages , I have know idea why now? But that was what I was driven to when I was leaving school, and I’m so glad I didn’t do that, not that there is anything wrong with the job, its just that I think I was selling myself short a little bit in comparison to what my life is like now, didn’t really see a future in art because art in school wasn’t pushed very much because you really couldn’t do anything with it when you left, so even in school I never really studied art, I didn’t want to go back and tell my mum and dad that I wanted a degree in art because they wouldn’t be impressed, so I thought I would pick something that people do and was a bit outlandish, maybe that falls into the same question of trying to be an individual , a marine sniper!
I’m actually a self-taught artist, and I became an artist because I was in a band, and some guys we toured with were a lot older at the time, and I kind of fell in love with it when seeing the art work they were getting put on their arms. So when I started my career in tattooing I gravitated towards traditional, and over time my style has become much more colourful. I always wanted to stick strictly to traditional but I was too bright with the colours, and it kind of went more Neo traditional that way. The industry has exploded over recent years and I think its because people want to do what they want, and expression is such a big thing in our culture these days, coming away from just oppression in every culture needs the spark for beauty and art, music and theatre, any way that you can kind of express yourself. I think people kind of latch on because its creating human identity you know! Rather than identifying yourself as a work colleague or a businessman or blah blah blah, I think taking your personality to new lengths is quite personal for people. I think it’s so important be an individual, to stand out from the rest and to have work that is recognisable. ultimately for me that is what makes a great artist.
The industry now is so fast paced, but I think thats a great thing because it actually pushes other people to be better, there is really no room for people to be mediocre anymore, you have to find a niche or you have to be very skilled at what you do, and with any growing industry it breads competitiveness, I think that is a good thing for tattooers and for anyone who wants to be artistic, its healthy , if we were too stuck in the past doing the same thing, it would only be over saturated if we were all dong the same thing, and had to compete doing the same thing, but so many people bring so many different mediums to art these days that its nice.
The best piece of advise I have received and one that I now pass on to my apprentices is - ‘would you like to earn money now or earn money later’, this essentially means, do you want to do things because its a fad and you want to earn a quick buck off of it now, or do you want to learn the craft properly and do it through and through and reap the rewards later, would you rather build a foundation or earn a quick buck? I’m always the money later guy.
I can’t really think of anybody that I would specifically love to tattoo I’m a massive Jim morrison fan but he doesn’t really look like a tattoo guy to be fair, Although tattooing the lightning bolt on David Bowie’s face would be pretty epic wouldn’t it. I remember I tattooed a cherub wearing a balaclava it had a shot gun, and it was covered in tattoos , so the tattoo to me essentially sounded very cool, and there was nothing wrong with the tattoo design, but the person I had it booked in with well she came in to the shop and I was thinking, this would be a gap filler for a sleeve , and this girl came in with no tattoos and she wanted it plastered across her chest! Bold but hey it’s all about expression right! The only thing I would refuse to tattoo is racist stuff that’s just a no brainer, and you asked how I would describe my art in one word - RED.
People often ask me what has been the greatest achievement so far in my career - I don’t really know , there would be so many people to thank for parts of my career that I couldn’t choose one individual moment. I would say that there is not a day that feels like I'm working, its nice to just actually come in and do something I’m passionate about and I get a lot of positivity from that so that’s a great achievement right? If I could keep a stable shop and grow with the good people that work in it at the moment, and keep supporting each others careers then I feel like that’s all I would want for the future I really love the place I’m in at the moment and when I’m not creating art I really love nature stuff, love mushroom hunting its one of my things! ultimately something that is to do with fresh air and the outdoors and that’s me I’m a huge family guy, so anything with my wife and kids I love to do, thats like the perfect weekend for me. In fact it was the great outdoors that nearly ended my career lol back in the day my sisters boyfriend shot me in my tattooing hand with a 22 calibre rifle, he shot me with the rifle because he thought it wasn’t loaded, it was pointed at my head and I put my hands up and he shot me, the bullet went through my hand and hit my face, sparked me out and that was me in hospital for the summer. I was told I would lose function of my hand, but that never happened and I thank gaming for that! I have a cool scar to tell the story.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer