Artists: Luke Palan
You travel a lot for work, where do you consider home base?
I have been continuously on the road since February 2014. I have been living in Las Vegas, NV since 2012. This is where I’m calling home as of now. I’m working at a good friend of mine’s studio, Aged In Oak Tattoo Parlor during my visits to Las Vegas. But, I have a few other spots that I call home as well: Boston Tattoo Company of Somerville, MA., Timeless Art Tattoo Studio of Hanover, IL., Bullseye Tattoo Studio of Staten Island, NY., and Sanctum Art Tattoo Studio of Chino Hills, CA. I’m on the road so much that I’m back and forth between all of these studios equally throughout the year, it’s hard to call just one of them my home base.
What other mediums do you work in?
Since I was a boy I had always drawn with graphite pencils. I have gotten into working with charcoal within the last few years. It’s helped improve my contrast levels in my work. I’ve done some watercolor projects and a couple oil painting pieces, and lately I’ve been into digital art. Being on the road all the time it’s hard to find the time to get to play around with a lot of different mediums. Being that I can do digital art on my iPad I get the chance to create on flights from place to place.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I look forward to doing darker concept imagery. I’m intrigued by things that have an abyss to them. Concepts of fantasy or old mythical stories and things that are antique to present day, I like adding that feeling of abyss to these types of images.
From what we’ve seen, you seem to freehand the majority of your tattoos, how does the process differ from using a stencil?
Yes, I do freehand the majority of my work. It was never a conscious decision to do so it just sort of led to this. The process of free handing is much different than using a stencil. For one there is no exact look that the piece is supposed to have. I like to develop the image and idea as I go. Starting with just some scribbles on the skin to place the tattoo on the body and keep it in check. By that I mean that when the tattoo is observed it sits in perfect proportion on the body’s relaxed position. Another difference in the process is everything I do with freehand is all on the fly. I create on the spot. The image and concept of the piece the flow, everything is on the day of. Sometimes I’ll take a few minutes to gather references but the other half of the time it is all created out of my head. I feel that it is a much different process this way compared to having something prepared and knowing the in and outs of the piece. I think there is much more room for the mind to wander and create in this process.
When do you use a stencil?
I use a stencil when I’m working with an iconic image or a portrait of a specific person or image. Also, when I’m trying to tighten up certain things in my work, like anatomy or proportions. Sometimes I’ll have spurts where I go back and forth between stenciling and freehand to work on these areas and develop a stronger vision to help improve my freehand work.
Have you always been drawn to the dark/macabre when creating art?
When I was younger I was always drawing football players from my collection of cards. I wasn’t intrigued by dark art until I was a teenager. Even then I wasn’t consistently drawing dark images or even paying much attention to it until after high school. I started with album covers of bands I was listening to. I began drawing certain things from select album covers and it grew from there. As I became more involved with tattooing the work of my good friend Carl Grace, along with Paul Booth and Bob Tyrell, piqued my interest and motivated me to move in that direction.
What about this subject matter piqued your interest?
What I like most about it is that abyss feel. The texture that certain images allow you to use and the contrast of the light source is always so key in a piece. Conspiracy theories, the thought and fear of death, knowing that it consumes us all, love lost and love gained. New beginnings and means to an end. That life shit! That’s what piques my interest in it.