Artists: Carl Grace
What year did you start tattooing?
I began tattooing in 1998 under an apprenticeship. Afterward I went back to school to further my art and education, taking years out of the industry and finally rejoining the tattoo world steadily in 2008. So 11 years or so, but officially, I say three years professionally.
How did you get into tattooing?
I’d be lying if I said my first tattoo was done professionally and beautifully. Truth was, my first tattoo was a
hack job. Homemade tattoo gun and Higgins ink wasn’t the way to learn. I’ve been drawing my entire life since I was old enough to remember. I think I came out of the womb with a pencil.After being asked 100 times by friends to try it, I did, and I sucked.
Where did you apprentice?
I apprenticed under Boston John at Skin Grafix in Arcadia, CA. The shop moved nine months after I started, and then I went away for a while, so that was that.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
Conventions are a dime a dozen these days. Some are virtually impossible to get in, some are a joke. Everyone
wants to throw a convention these days. You gotta just pick and choose the ones you’re going to attend. I won my first award two years ago at the Tucson Tattoo Expo. Since then I’ve won my share.
How do you describe your style?
My style? I have a few. I love the statuesque style of tattooing. My black-and-gray is definitely a high-contrast technique. I like to fill the area; I don’t like a lot of open, untouched skin, probably because that’s the way I was taught to do color correctly. I love doing my beautiful, broken girls. Freehand demonic. I have a lot of styles, but they are all dark, with a lot of black.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything. The most random shit will give me an idea and then I’ll draw it up.
What sets you apart from other artists?
My work ethic. This is my life, and people recognize an artist who loves what he does from a tattooer who just wants to make money.
What other mediums do you work in?
Pencil, ink, charcoal. I definitely get my tattoo style from all the years doing charcoals.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
There’s too many to count. I know growing up it was the darker-style artists like Booth and Tyrrell. Nowadays there’s so much amazing work out there.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Don’t move, don’t hold your breath, don’t complain, don’t make faces. It hurts my feelings!
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
What a blessing it is to say, no, there isn’t. In fact, nine times out of 10 I’m working on a drawing that I don’t want to tattoo so I can put it in my book I’m working on…and the next week it’s on someone’s arm. But tomorrow’s a new day. I’ll have a dozen new ideas for the world, right?