Artists: Eddie Stacey
When and how did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing one month and one day after September 11, 2001. I had been selling my flash by way of rental cars and hotels. I wanted an apprenticeship but I was living in my hometown and there weren’t any to be had. I began working on friends and within a couple of weeks I started on customers. 29 Palms wasn’t full of collectors, it was more of a “fill me up fast” environment. So, I guess you can say I was self-taught but had a bad teacher. I scratched out a living until I moved to Bakersfield and started working for 2 Cent at Angry Robot Tattoo. That shop means a lot to me and my tattooing. It’s where I cut my teeth and started to push harder at getting better.
You’ve tattooed a series of sloths (Beetlesloth, Sloth sloth, Gandsloth, Harry Sloth’R, etc.) how did this come about?
I was working with Kelly Doty and had seen her do an amazing sloth one day and I told her I wanted her to tattoo a hillbilly sloth on me. One day I sketched one up and then another and another and so on. Then one day I had one of my clients, who I was doing an Amazon River sleeve on, ask what we could do in his inner arm and I went with recommending a sloth and in his wisdom he agreed. They started piling up after the first one. I’m almost finished with an 80s movie sloth sleeve which I am stoked about on two fronts, for one it satisfies my love for movies and sloths. Plus, pretty cool people are interested in sloths, like my client that has the Harry sloth and Gandsloth, he is one of the greatest clients you could ask for.
You specialize in Japanese, American traditional, black and grey, and illustrative styles, which style is your favorite?
It’s really hard to pick which of the styles that I do is my favorite. I find I enjoy tattooing different styles on different days, usually due to me working a lot in one particular style and it feeling over done. If I had to pick, I’d say that illustrative is my choice because of the longevity of the tattoo when the fill is encased in bold line work. It tends to last longer looking like its original form, also the idea that you can create depth and texture with line and in harmony with the shading you can create a really deep field. The illustrative style allows for more of your own unique style to be showcased. It’s the same in the graffiti world. Using varying line thickness coupled with rigid or flowing lines to enhance the composition and flow and it’s a major challenge finding harmony with design and body shape.
Most artists choose to specialize in one style, why have you decided to practice four?
When I started you had to do it all or rent would go short. I’ve been one of the guys complaining about younger tattooers going to one style too soon in their career, but honestly the game has changed and being a renaissance man in the tattoo industry is not a commonly shared goal for the younger artist. It’s not good or bad, it just is. I feel that attempting diversity gives you a lot of benefits but I’m not sure that matters as much in the modern era. Someone can have a great career without venturing away from the one style they’ve been producing. My black and grey helps my color and my realism helps my illustrative, it’s a crazy brew that makes up my overall style. Sometimes mixing them up gives you a truly unique tattoo. John Barrett is a perfect example of someone who is a badass at this.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Tattoos that are unique or visually interesting. I’m more definitive on what I don’t like to do because it’s a smaller list. I don’t particularly like doing names and most writing. I love how it looks but I only like tattooing letters if it’s a graffiti piece. Tribal makes me crazy. I started tattooing by a Marine base and all I did was tribal for three years.