Artists: Cris Cleen
Idle Hand Tattoo
575 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing around 2001, a month after my 19th birthday. This was after a year apprenticeship and various minimum wage jobs.
How did you get into tattooing?
I had no formal training before tattooing. I had some ambitions of drawing but fell in love with flash and the folk art quality of this secret domain.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I don’t do too many conventions but I’ve done some in Sacramento, San Jose and Austin, Texas, which is as far away from home I’ve gone for a convention. I have not won any awards! Maybe if they were yearbook style awards like “most difficult” or “worst team player!”
How would you describe your work?
I would describe my work as turn-of-the-century European, American traditional.
What inspires you as an artist?
I’m very influenced by the natural world, desire of man, longing, forgiveness, all of the primitive emotional symbols that make up the 20th century tattoo vocabulary.
What other mediums do you work with?
I also paint, mostly with watercolor.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
My favorites are Sutherland Macdonald, George Burchett, Joseph Hartley and Ben Corday
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I look forward to doing subjects that are not a combination of things but my take on a simple idea. Like even just doing a rose and seeing what I can do with it or an old flash design that I can appropriate. I like when people are willing to go more historic with their ideas and put an American flag on their tattoo.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
I would love to tattoo anyone that understands the work I like and really gets it.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
I guess the only advice I would give a potential client is to do some research and find someone you feel good with and trust with your ideas and don’t let someone treat you terribly or act like they are doing you a favor by tattooing you.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I’m lucky to say that there aren’t too many designs I’m dying to do that I haven’t gotten to. The work you see is a lot of me getting to have my vision with people and in that sense I’m very fortunate. Roses and anything with ladies are always classic, for men and women.