San Francisco, CA
What year did you start tattooing?
On October 11, 1993 I did my first full tattoo. I did a little coloring in on my buddy Chris Rupp’s wrist, who taught me how to tattoo about a year after that.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was always a bit fascinated by tattooing and was a creative kid. When I was about 15 I had told friends that I wanted to become a tattooer.
You grew up in Colorado, learned to tattoo in Arizona while attending Arizona State University, then made the move to California. Why did you choose to make a life/career for yourself San Francisco?
For me, it was the mecca of tattooing at that time. Nearly every person whose work I had been inspired by to become a tattooer worked there. And when Marcus gave me a chance to work in SF with him at Primal Urge I jumped at it!
How has your style changed since you started tattooing?
Thankfully it has become a lot better. I have a much better understanding of tattoo history and its lexicon, and my own abilities have greatly improved.
What led you to work primarily in color?
I’ve always been drawn to color and its power to dazzle the eye, create mood and space.
When do you find yourself working in black and grey?
When the client requests that or when the project seems to call for it.
Do you find one style more difficult that the other?
I would guess color work is a little more challenging for me.
What are some of the major subject matters you like to tattoo?
I would say I enjoy dragons, skulls, mythological figures/gods, skulls, etc. Typical childlike male imagery (laughs).
Can you tell us a little about Black Claw?
It’s a company that Seth Ciferri and I own and operate. Us two and a single employee. That’s it. We were tired of the mediocre to terrible quality of the pre-made needle offerings that we had been using and knew that it was possible to change that and bring real, high quality needles to market that mimicked the quality and styles we used to make ourselves.
How did you get into racing motorcycles? Would you consider making it a full time career?
It was an extension of my fascination and enjoyment of racing cars. But when I was very young, around 8 years old, I yearned for a YZ-80 so badly, but my family could not afford one. I never had a motorcycle when I was young but always enjoyed riding my friends’ when I had the chance. I haven’t actually raced my motorcycle, I just ride a ton of track days. I do it because it’s a giant departure from the art side of my life and I really enjoy pushing myself and expanding my comfort level on them. Full time career? Well, I’m too slow to earn a dime so, no (laughs). I’d be broke.
What inspires you as an artist?
Other artists, happenings, literature.
What sets you apart from other artists?
If there is something that does, I would say it’s my point of view toward my art.
What other mediums do you work in?
Illustration, paint, sculpture, writing.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I am better understanding my desire to make art that isn’t rooted in the tattoo language. I have studied intensely the past twenty plus years. Better understanding my goals with my art that isn’t designed for tattoo consumption. I’m excited about it.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Those who have their own point of view, who push the tattoo boundaries and create work that is unexpected and inspired and inspiring.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Bold, powerful, dynamic and unique work.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Hold still and keep a steady breath rate.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
No, because my tattoo dreams are waiting on me… I am not waiting on them.