Artists: Alex Strangler
What year did you start tattooing?
Pretty sure it was 2006? My memory has failed me.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got hired as a receptionist at the tattoo shop I would get work from. When it wasn’t busy I would draw for fun. The owner of the shop came to me one day and asked me if I wanted to learn to paint so I had something to do in my downtime. I thought it would be fun since I always saw him painting, but I never thought of doing it myself, and he let me use his paints and brushes. I picked it up fairly quickly and immediately became consumed in the art. First he had me redoing old Sailor Jerry and Mike Malone designs and even old acetates he had collected over the years. The owner was so impressed with how fast and good I got that he decided I should learn to tattoo. Before I could even touch a tattoo machine, he made me paint 50 sheets of flash. He let me hang them in the lobby and I had done some of my own cute/girly designs that the ladies loved and in turn made the shop lots of money.
Do you have any special training?
I spent 13 years in the Brazilian rain forest learning the electrifying, yet deadly art of Capoeira. I can paralyze an assailant in less than 15 seconds. Besides that, I have no other “special” training. Artistically speaking, I was trained to be a tattooer, so I have a tattooer’s training. I can paint, tattoo, and kick ass!
You seem to tattoo mostly cartoon characters, has this been a conscious decision?
Cartoons have been a huge influence in my career. I love drawing and tattooing cartoons, they are always a lot of fun. Cartoons (and tattooing cartoon characters) have been around almost as long as modern electric tattooing in Western culture. Think of how many Taz, Tweety, Mickey, and Bugs Bunny tattoos are out there in the world. I’m just excited to continue that tradition with the newer cartoons that are at the forefront of pop culture today.
You’ve done your fair share of pizza tattoos, tell us about that.
Subconsciously I dream of pizza and cartoons, so it probably manifested. I’m allergic to everything, and I can’t even eat pizza because of cheese. Well I can, but cheese-less pizza is not the same! Anyway, pizza seems to be a hot topic in the world. People really love pizza. I would say pizza tattoo sales have risen 100% in the last two years, nobody knows why. Pizza is the new black. Pizza is the new owl tattoo. But who am I to judge? The kids love pizza, so bring on the pizza tattoos, I love them!
What was the first character you tattooed?
My friend John in Chicago, man, he’s a fucking character haha! But seriously, Rainbow Brite was the first character I tattooed. I grew up watching that cartoon so I was pretty excited about it.
How many times have you tattooed Tina Belcher?
Wow, I have no idea. At least a dozen times, maybe more. I like Tina. She really speaks to my sensibilities as a woman. She loves butts, and I love butts too! Thank you Tina, for being my hero!
Conventions vs. guest spots, which do you prefer and why?
I prefer guest spots. Conventions are cool to do sometimes, but they can be very stressful and hard on your body. Conventions are good for meeting people and maybe exposing yourself to artists you haven’t met before. However, most of the time I’m so busy tattooing that I hardly get the chance to walk around and say hi to people. Working in a shop environment is just more relaxed, and I try to do guest spots where I know people who work at the shop as well. It’s always fun to work with your friends; it makes it seem less like work.
What other media do you work in?
I paint, watercolor mostly. Sometimes I like to think of something strange and funny to paint, never thinking anyone would actually get it tattooed on them, but then I’m always proven wrong! I also like to make jewelry and fun little things for my Etsy page.