Artists: Em Scott
Los Angeles, California
Your lettering work is simply beautiful. What are the important elements that go into a script tattoo? What is the balance between beauty and legibility?
Thanks. I think you have to have balance, alignment and flow. How it flows on the body is crucial. All the flourishes should accent the letters and add to the piece. You don’t want to have so much going on that it gets hard to read or takes away from it.
Since you do so much lettering and script work, what is your process for spell checking/grammar checking?
I always try to double check the spelling before I start. As far as punctuation goes, it depends on the piece. Sometimes lettering might look better on the body without a comma or whatever, if it were an article or book then I think it may be a different story.
Considering that you are from Southern California it is not surprising to see so many black and grey influences within your work, but I would not describe your work as strictly black and grey. How do you describe your own style?
Since I was a kid I would practice lettering a lot and was heavy into drawing things realistically. When I started tattooing I wasn’t really able to be picky. I was very attracted to fine line black and grey tattoos and was using fine line needles from the beginning, but I learned from an old school traditional tattooer who taught me to tattoo whatever came through the door. So I just tried to tattoo everything. I enjoy tattooing different styles. Most people request fine line and realistic stuff but I try to be well rounded.
Tell us a little bit about the importance of capturing every part of the subject you are inking.
I’ve always been drawn to super detailed artwork. My grandpa was a realistic oil painter. He would free hand portraits and the most detailed cityscapes from photos he took traveling, which heavily inspired me from a very young age. I was really shy growing up and didn’t have a ton of friends so I just drew stuff all the time. When it comes to drawing/tattooing things realistically I’ve always just tried to push myself to make the next one better then the last. It’s kinda fun and challenging for me, you can’t really ever stop learning.
You seem to do a wide variety of different types of tattoos, do you feel that being able to jump back and forth makes you a better tattooer?
I don’t mind switching it up. It’s the way I’ve tattooed since the beginning. These days my clients request a lot of roses, lettering and super detailed work (don’t get me wrong I fuckin’ love that shit all day) but I don’t turn stuff down because it isn’t my style or whatever. My mentor taught that you have to be versatile. I have high respect for many different styles of tattooing so I like to try to learn as much as I can about tattooing all around.
How did you get into tattooing?
I’ve always been into tattoos, especially growing up in LA around a bunch of bikers and gangsters I was exposed to them all the time from a super young age. I loved the way they looked and I knew I wanted a bunch from the beginning. In school I would always draw tattoos on myself, most of the time getting in trouble for it. When I was 16 my dad took me to get my first tattoo. I didn’t know that I was going to do tattoos until a few years later when I met Kevin Hinton in Venice. I had gotten a few tattoos from him and we became friends. He was about to open up a bigger shop and he offered to take me on as his apprentice. I took him up on the offer & I’m forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity and trusting me enough to give me that foot in the door.
What was your first shop experience like?
I didn’t really have a traditional apprenticeship making needles and all that. Straight away I did a few tattoos on myself and then about 20 on some homeboys from the neighborhood. My boss thought my lines and shading were looking good enough to start taking walk ins so I just dove in and tried to just tattoo everything I could. It was scary, I really felt like I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I spent a lot of time there alone trying to figure it out, basically taking on tattoos I had no clue how to do, and trying to figure it out along the way. But that’s just how it was and I just had to go for it. Gotta fake it till ya make it I guess (laughs).