Alex McWatt

Do you consider yourself a tattooer or an artist?

I call myself a professional collaborator. I help people with their ideas, and share mine through my art.

What are your artistic influences?

I’m really inspired by Audubon, Dürer, Yoshitoshi, Hokusai. There are also different artists like Walton Ford, James Jean, and Jim Woodring. Due to my anthropology background, ancient symbols and art have always fascinated me.

What inspires you?

Inspiration is a funny thing. I can be walking down the street and see something on the side of a bus. Then that gets me thinking about a book I read 10 years ago. That makes me have a conversation with one of the guys I work with, which ultimately materializes itself into some kind or artwork or tattoo. Anything can inspire in some way.

You have a knack for respecting traditional tattoo designs while still pushing tattooing forward. What’s your approach?

I don’t want to do the same thing as everyone else.

How does fandom, specifically that of Arsenal fans—like the ones you tattooed at an event in New York City in 2011—play into tattooing? It’s great that people express their passion through a tattoo. Whenever I tattoo a fellow Arsenal fan I feel really lucky because there’s this instant camaraderie over football [soccer], and Arsenal specifically.

What was it like working on the CK One underwear line?

It was great to do something I don’t normally do. The CK One people were really respectful of my input into the designs.

When working in fashion, do you apply the same notions you have of placement on the body, or do you throw those out the window?

I have to keep placement in mind. It certainly is a different medium, but ultimately it has to look good on the body. There’s not as much pressure because it’s not permanent—but it’s still important.

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