Artists: Noah Moore
Kansas City, MO
You do an extensive amount of lettering work, both in your tattoos and in other art. Tell us a little bit about how you maintain balance between a stylish font and a legible one. Which is more important?
This all depends on the client. I get all sorts of people asking for lettering, most of them letter-heads themselves, from type designers to graffiti writers and even sign makers. Depending on what they’re asking for and where they’re wanting it, typically, the more letters involved the less pizzazz and the more simplified it becomes. If it’s one word and fits a good location on the body, I might add some bells and whistles. In some cases less is more. All in all, I try to draw something I believe fits the client’s personality after we meet and go from there.
Do you find that different types of phrases/words lend themselves to different types of lettering?
Oh for sure! I believe this pertains to everything that requires lettering. Dripping horror lettering caters to Halloween and maybe a Dracula type of theme. Bubble letters are more on the happy side of things. I’d never take a phrase like “live laugh love” and make it bold old English or push that horror typeface on those particular words. Each word in this case could take on its own personality and probably should reflect the entire phrase. I would try to create its own font without mixing and matching styles, but if it’s requested by the client to switch up the style for each word, I’d still try to make them all reflect each other well and appear as if they’re from the same family.
Where do you find your inspiration when coming up with different fonts?
Well that’s easy and tough all at the same time. We live in a world of fonts and you could barely escape if you tried—I take it all in. I literally can and will find inspiration in any and all things. This could be anything from a flat tire to a crappy punchline from a crumby joke. Initially, I was blown away by what graffiti writers were creating in the night and that was my first source of inspiration when it came to lettering. I find that the older I’ve become, the more influenced and inspired I’ve been by older, turn of the century signage and have really gravitated towards this style of lettering and ornamentation.
How did you get into tattooing?
When I was in my late teens I did a lot of mural work. It was my own little self-employed thing I had going on. I ended up being contacted by a guy opening up a new tattoo shop in town and they wanted the place jazzed up with some graffiti styled stuff. I gave a bid on the job and made it happen. The guy that ran the shop and hired me for the job was really impressed by the work I was doing. He came outside between all the little walk-in tattoos he’d do throughout the day and ask all sorts of questions about the process. I’d answer his questions and in return I’d ask my own about tattoos. It was very obvious I was interested in the biz because I made it obvious. Nearing the end of the job and wrapping things up he laid the offer on the table. He would pay me half the bid in cash and offer up an apprenticeship for the remainder. I gladly took it. I remember my mom cried when I told her the good news.
You are an incredibly well rounded tattooer—we’ve seen awesome work from you in Japanese, traditional, new school, lettering and I’m sure I’m leaving something out. Do you think there is any one thing that connects all of your tattoos stylistically? And why do you think it is important to be well rounded?
Well thank you! I really appreciate you saying so. As far as being well rounded, I definitely feel it’s important. I’m not sure if I ever thought to myself or even outwardly suggested, “I must do anything and everything.” I just find that I’m genuinely interested in every avenue of tattooing. I always think about the phrase “one trick pony.” While having one polished trick seems to draw a lot more attention to an artist, I think it’s feeding an audience that feels safe knowing exactly what they’re going to get and that’s just MOST people in general. They need repetition with everything, the number they pick off that drive-thru menu, or the same drink because they know they like it. They could be one sip away from their next favorite beverage if they’d just break free of their own routine. I think having only one trick means your trick can, and more than likely will, get stale and fade away or someone else will start to use your trick and crush you at it. And I guess if I had to tell you what I think connects all my work stylistically, I’d probably have to refer back to my beginnings in graffiti; It’s what moves my hand the way it does. For real though, I don’t have a clue. I’d be better off asking you what it is that make the styles connect. It’s easier to describe being an observer vs. being the creator.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing? Generally I am happy to do very large-scale work now. But I often think about trying new styles. I would love to do straight tribal or old school. But I also love fine line work…
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give to them?
Choose the tattooist, not the tattoo.