Artists: Ish Schuurbiers
What year did you start tattooing?
I was born on a small island in the Caribbean called Curacao, a Dutch, Spanish, English, Portuguese and French influenced paradise, close to venezuela and Colombia.
What year did you start tattooing?
I started almost 8 years ago on the beautiful island of Curacao in the Caribbean.
How did you get into tattooing?
My sister had an old dolphin tattooed on her ankle. I hated the dolphin, so I would tell her every time, joking, that one day I would fix her tattoo for her. So for my birthday she asked me what I wanted and showed up with a tattoo machine that she got through a professional artist in the area. I was like a kid with a new toy. At that time I was working as an executive chef for a mayor hotel chain, called Marriott, in Curacao when I received the news that my sister was sick and suddenly died. That was devastating to me; so the next day, I quit my job and went straight into tattooing. For me, “tattoo artist” meant that I needed to have a strong artistic background and have a true understanding of tattooing and its history. So for a long time I only drew and dedicated time in understanding what it meant to tattoo someone. The first tattoo I ever did was on my self, actually the first 20 of them. [laughs] They are covered up now; just a few are still there.
What was your first shop experience like?
My first shop experience was not so bad. I opened my own store as soon as I had quit being a chef with the money I had saved. It was very difficult to say “no” to many really interesting projects, but I knew at the time it was the best and responsible thing to say to my collector and myself. Since I had studied by myself how to take care of the skin, making needles, using an autoclave and ultrasound, spore testing, among many other things necessary to have a sterile environment and a professional studio, my clients/ collectors would see a change in my studio every week. So they were my motivation to a successful business. And in the artistic aspect I would only tattoo what I was comfortable with, instead of tattooing whatever.
What is the tattoo culture like in Curacao?
It’s still a taboo; the people that are in it are the new generation that have traveled to America and Europe. So, they are trendier. Also, having the tattoo Tv shows coming to the market here has opened room for people to feel more open to it and also a lot more acceptance. So, I personally think it’s good. For the new generation of artists in any form it’s also good to see what I am doing because they can relate and know that if you dedicate and keep pushing you can take your art very far.
Do you have any special training?
Yes, I party as much as I can…to keep my creative thoughts flowing…Nah, just joking. I don’t have special training. But I do have a method of teaching myself that has really helped me along these years, which is consistency and dedication to the art I love. I try to draw everyday and paint as much as time will allow me, re-creating and reinventing myself everyday.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
This year has been really crazy. [laughs] I say that every year. This year was really good. Starting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as soon as the year turned. Literally I flew there on the 1st of January. Philadelphia; Frankfurt, Germany; New York City; Amsterdam, Holland; vancouver, Canada; and São Paulo, Brazil among many other shows and also I will be in United Ink [in New York] in September this year.
You have won over 75 awards for your tattoos at various conventions. How has such success affected you?
At first it affected my ego and my goals. Due to the feeling of superiority of wining, but after realizing at an early time that even tough awards are good for getting your name out there and for others to see what you are capable of, at the end what matters the most is that you know that your collector is really happy and their smile being mesmerized by what they have collected is the ultimate satisfaction. But yes, I am very humbled and happy by all the awards received this year and in the past years.
How do you describe your style?
Based on this interview, by the time right now, it’s realism in color or black and grey. I am and have been working on my new style, which is a mix of realism, abstract geometry and surrealism.
What artists or artistic styles influence your own work?
I would say my silent mentors are definitely da vinci, Michelangelo, Renoir, Rembrandt, Bernini, and Salvador Dali, just to name a few.
What sets you apart from other artists?
My speed to create things in a very small amount of time and with high amount of detail. Also, my goal is for total realism not cartoon with a little bit of realism or plastic look.
What other mediums do you work in?
I love acrylics and oils on either canvas or wood panels; airbrushing on cars, helmets or jet skis; digital in Photoshop, designing logos and my references; Prismacolors; charcoal; sculpting; pretty much anything that I can create.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I think my life revolves around tattooing. I do have a couple of projects I’m working on like, Sullen Clothing, creating sterilization machines for inks, tattoo machines, my new black and white ink called Sfumato Ink in collaboration with Eternal Ink, a new clothing line called vita Religiosa which I already have a book of references for artists.
What tattoo artist’s do you admire most?
I admire anyone who puts 1000 percent of their life into this beautiful industry and respects their collectors and their work- space. And when I say workspace I mean by maintaining a clean and safe environment for the clients/collectors, also to treat their collectors with the respect they deserve. Since the collectors are the ones who make this industry what it is. Without there skin we wouldn’t be where we are as artists today.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I look forward to pleasing my collectors and adding my own flavor to their ideas and thoughts, in creating a magnificent piece of art on their skin.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Research, research and more research! Choose your artist by portfolio and chemistry. Follow your intuition and the process of getting a tattoo; it shouldn’t be a stressful experience. So demand a good service and if your not satisfied with the way you are treated by the shop or wherever, then do not get tattooed.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Hmmmm, tough question, so may ideas, too little canvas. I don’t know because my work is created a lot of times on collectors’ feelings and emotions, thoughts and dreams. So I depend on them for that. But if I was given a significant space like a back, full arm or leg, I would tattoo the story of art; depicting our movement and evolution.
What artists have tattooed you?
Freddy Negrete, Danny Romo, Josh Glasser, Steve Soto, Emilia Laurel, and myself.
Which Brands support you in the industry?
All of these are big supporters in my career, Sullen Art Collective, H2Ocean Tattoo Aftercare, Eternal Tattoo- ing Ink, Sfumato Ink, SiteSkin websites, Steadfast Brand, Tribal Gear, Cold Skin Tattoo Supply Europe, Supreme Ink Brazil and my family. I also want to thank each and everyone who follows me on Instagram @Tattooish, Facebook and around the world; conventions and that are true to the art of tattooing.