Artists: Casey Anderson
What year did you start tattooing?
I started an apprenticeship in the winter of 2000. It was a very short-lived apprenticeship since it ended up closing in about six months. After that, I ended up in a couple other shops working a full-time job and only tattooing on the weekends ’til I found my home at House of Ponchos Tattoos, where I started full-time in 2007.
How did you get into tattooing?
Actually, my wife, Keirsten Anderson, and friends Keith and Kevin Zink and Dave Billings talked me into tattooing. I liked tattoos and liked getting them, but really had no desire to learn how to do it. I told my wife, “You do realize when you mess up you can’t crumple up a person and throw them away, and there’s no eraser on the end of that machine?” She said, “It’s cool, babe. You can just practice on me.” Now I get to spend the rest of my life fixing all of the shitty tattoos I did on her! But she’s the real backbone of support for me as an artist at the end of the day.
Where did you apprentice?
The shop that I started my apprenticeship at was located in Churchville, MD, and was called dominant art. My mentor was Michael Cox—a.k.a. Evil—but I have to include Guy Arnold for inspirational purposes.
Do you have any special training?
I don’t have any formal art training or education; I’m completely self-taught. I’d like one day to take some classes and fine-tune some techniques that can ultimately be translated into tattooing—but as of right now, having a wife and two wonderful kids, it’s hard to do anything extra!
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
I have done the Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention; Best in The Midwest; Valley Forge, Pa; Hampton Roads, VA; and TattoolaPalooza in Miami. I have almost 60 awards right now between all of these conventions—I am very thankful that I have clients that are so willing to participate at these tattoo conventions. There are so many fun times it’s hard to recall anything particular. I would have to say the best memory was having all of my tattooing idols hanging out in my hotel room one night at the Best in the Midwest Convention. It was Nikko Hurtado, Bob Tyrrell, Shane O’Neill, and Roman Abrego, amongst others, all in one room. It was almost overwhelming but probably one of the greatest feelings in the world. i was hoping i could somehow absorb some of their talent!
How do you describe your style?
I would like to say my style is illustrative realism. I’m always trying to expand on my techniques and explore different color palettes in my work, so it’s constantly evolving!
What inspires you as an artist?
It’s hard to say. My brain is somewhat sporadic, so I can be into more nature-type things that I’ll incorporate using more of an organic, flowing style in my work—then the next day I’ll feel more like a steampunk thing going on, then have a horror or science fiction idea in my head, all at the same time. So I really don’t have any specific inspirations; I usually just use all of these feelings to expand off of the client’s ideas to try to make their tattoo as fun to do for me as well as meet the parameters of their ideas.
What sets you apart from other artists?
Aside from subjectivity, that should be a hard question for any artist to answer. Since I’m constantly trying to evolve my techniques and better my tattoos in any way that I can, I can say that I’m very selective with what I tattoo and how I do my tattoo work. I don’t want to put less than 150 percent into every tattoo I do, so it’s a possibility that that can set me apart from another artist.
What other mediums do you work in?
I have worked with oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints—not as much as I’d like to have, though. I have used charcoal, Prismacolor, and sketch pencils, which i’ve used more of over the years. I don’t get too many opportunities to paint or draw outside of the tattoo studio.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
Well, I actually play in a metal band called ZFl, so I’d have to say music is a good way for me to let loose and get out all the bad feelings I harbor sometimes that I don’t usually get to get out of my head.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
I’d have to say Bob Tyrrell; he’s one of the best black-and-gray artists I’ve gotten to know and call my friend. He’s probably the coolest dude you’ll ever meet and is about as humble as you can get. Also, Nikko Hurtado, very cool dude and one of my inspirations for color realism. If he’s not at the top of [your] favorite artists list, you probably should have your brain checked.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Well, my comfort zone is realism, but every once in a while I’ll get a hair up the ass and try other styles. I really don’t like doing this too often because of other artists that are way more versed in those styles. I’d hate to embarrass myself—or step on somebody’s toes, for that matter.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Make sure you have a good understanding of what that artist’s capabilities are, and have a good idea. And be sure you eat and drink plenty of water before you come in for your appointment. If you don’t, your sugar levels can drop and you can potentially pass out or end up in the hospital.