Tattooers’ names are tossed around in casual conversation all the time. But unless they’re starring in a popular TV series or have a multimillion-dollar clothing line named after them, most artists aren’t exactly recognizable to millions. Except maybe Scott Campbell. Whether you know his name or not, chances are you’ve seen his work, and not just the tattoos. Campbell’s art and design skills have popped up on everything from packaging for Camel cigarettes to products for Nike, Volkswagen, BlackBerry, Yellow Tail wines, and a few other national brands.
Campbell is also known for the company he keeps. He was close friends with Heath Ledger (and even attended the actor’s memorial service and gave Ledger’s family memorial tattoos) and also counts Marc Jacobs, Helena Christensen, and Josh Hartnett as clients. By the time you read this, there will be even more A-listers who have scored the Campbell stamp. “I’m on my way out to Los Angeles to tattoo Devendra Banhart and Lindsay Lohan next week,” he says, fully aware of just how wacky it all sounds.
Originally from Louisiana, Campbell bounced around before landing in New York City. He now owns and operates Saved Tattoo, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where he works alongside eight other artists including JK 5, John Reardon, Daniel Trocchio, and Eli Quinters. Campbell credits the success of the shop to a combination of old-fashioned luck and the magic of living in New York City. “I’m a pretty restless person. I don’t sleep much and I’ve always had twelve things going on at once,” he explains. “NYC embraces that and has given me the chance to meet people I wouldn’t have met anywhere else. I owe a lot to this town.”
Though known for tattooing, Campbell’s been spending much of his time in his studio working on his paintings. “I’ve always tried to find the time to devote to my fine art projects,” says Campbell. “Lately, I’ve just had to put my foot down and make it a priority.” Painting, he explains, carries a lot more heart and soul than his other gigs, and one gets the feeling that he’s only half-joking when he proclaims, “It keeps me out of the pool halls.” But don’t worry that you may miss your chance to get a turn in his chair at Saved. “Tattooing still has my soul, and there’s no getting it back,” says Campbell.