Artists: Christian Masot
Silk City Tattoo
7 Garfield Ave.
Hawthorne, NJ 07506
What year did you start tattooing? How did you get started?
I started tattooing in the year 2000; I was in college at the time and all of my friends started getting tattooed. I was always drawing so everyone started asking me to design their tattoos—I didn’t really know anything about tattoos so I would draw this atrocious garbage, ha ha. The artists probably hated me. After a while one of my friends told me that the guy that did their tattoo wanted to meet me. I was all nervous—I went in and he told me I should design a set of flash to sell at the upcoming NYC convention. So I got to work and did this godawful tribal set and brought it to the show. While selling it, this guy (Joey G) asked me if I wanted to learn how to tattoo. I figured it seemed like a cool job—but, I mean, it wasn’t like it is now.
Where did you apprentice?
I started my apprenticeship at a shop in Secaucus called Underground Images—wicked name, I know.
And I was there for about a year. It was about that time that I met Mario Barth, and he made me an offer to come work for him. This was a really great opportunity and I figured that I could learn a lot from him, so it was then that I jumped ship and restarted my apprenticeship under him.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I’ve done a bunch of conventions over the past years: Boston, The Biggest Show on Earth, Atlantic City, Asbury
Park, Electric City, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago, and Miami. I have a great time at the shows; it’s an awesome way to meet the community. But as far as contests go, I have won a bunch of stuff—I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a prick. I’ve won best sleeve, tattoo of the day, best of show, best Asian, best
color, best black-and-gray… I am more just happy that the people that I tattoo are proud to show what I’ve done on them. The trophies are nice but it’s really all about the art.
How do you describe your style?
I really enjoy tattooing—like, really a lot—but if I had to describe what I enjoy doing most, I’d say a new
take on classic Japanese style, using a lot of color, but then I also really like doing intricate black-and-gray stuff as well. Recently I’ve really gotten into doing realism in flowers and wildlife.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Tattooing is always changing, and you have to let your style evolve to keep up and set yourself apart.
What inspires you as an artist?
Hmm… more than anything I’d say nature. It sounds cliché, I know, but I try look at everything that I see
as how I could tattoo it. That is, if I look at something like a jellyfish, I try to see what makes it up—why does it sometimes look illuminated, how could I replicate its translucence on skin? Or if I look at a butterfly, I’ll really analyze how the colors are so perfect, then I’ll try to process it and come out with my take on it.
What other mediums do you work in?
I love painting. My mediums of choice are acrylics, primarily, followed by watercolors and airbrushing. One day I’d love to learn to sculpt.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Well, my favorite artists are Joe Capobianco, Eric Merrill, Horiyoshi III, and Shige. I also really admire Jesse Smith and Derek Noble. Also my boy Damien Friesz for his amazing painting skills. There’s a lot of amazing artists out there, but these are the ones that I feel had a lot to do with keeping me inspired throughout the years.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I love doing big-color tattoos, Japanese stuff, black-and-gray—I just love tattooing anything interesting. If you look at my portfolio, I’m a bit all over the place, whereas some tend to really get into doing a particular style and they’ll base themselves on that. I just really look at a tattoo and as long as the client is cool and lets me do my thing with it, I’ll just have fun. I just can’t believe this is my job—it’s awesome.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
If I could have tattooed one person, it would have been my grandmother before she passed away. She always teased me and told me she wanted a rose or a butterfly, and I think it would have been awesome to do it.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Know who you’re getting tattooed by—see at least 15 good pictures in their portfolio, and meet them first! Don’t just like someone’s work and then not be able to stand the person that’s permanently marking you. For me, being very spiritual, I believe that if your artist acts like a prick while he’s tattooing you, he’s putting that negative energy into your body—that’s not awesome. The experience is like a bond that you have. In some cultures, the artist needs to know you and designs the tattoo based on the feeling that he gets from you. That’s an extreme, of course, but I’d say definitely make sure that there’s a connection between you and the artist that you choose.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Oh my God, will someone please let me do a Star Wars tattoo already? I mean, seriously—it’s been 12 years,
it’s one of the only tattoos that I would come in on a day off for!