Artists: Paris Pierides
1820 South Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing around 1986 but officially opened my first studio in 1989.
How did you get into tattooing?
Well, I come from a very conservative family. I went to boarding schools in South Africa and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York. My becoming a tattoo artist was something that has had me alienated from my family for many years—but finally they have accepted me and are even proud of me. My choice of becoming a tattoo artist has been a long and arduous task. The first real influence was an an employee that
my father had called Derek. Dad had a company with gambling machines—slot machines, pinball machines, and jukeboxes. Derek, a former merchant Marine, was the technician. Well, he was covered in sailor tattoos—which looked so unusual, considering we lived in Central Africa, Zambia, which is a landlocked country. So seeing Derek’s tattoos was like something out of a science fiction movie. I was totally thrilled by this as a kid. It was later on during my university years that I started considering making the move over to becoming a professional tattoo artist. In 1983 I saw tattoos in New York City while on my way to classes at Parsons School
of Design. I stopped over at a pet shop; the guy working there suddenly appeared, covered with ornate tattoos. It was the first time I had seen such intricate work. It totally blew me away. That was the defining moment in which I decided tattooing was what I wanted to do. In those days tattooing was illegal. I went on my way, but the bug started gnawing away at me. This is what I really wanted to do.
Where did you apprentice?
I never really did get a formal apprenticeship like you see on TV. Phil Bond, in Torquay, England, was my biggest inspiration. He saw my raw talent and was patient enough to spend precious time showing me the basics of tattooing and his techniques. But more importantly, he explained that I would develop my own techniques, like in drawing and painting each artist has their own style. Phil suggested I open near a prison and get the word out that I was doing free tattoos. That way I would get a lot of experience. The people who were less fortunate would seize upon the opportunity to get their awful tattoos made a little better. That way both would benefit. So that’s pretty much what I did. I opened an amateur studio right next door to the Central Prisons in Nicosia, Cyprus. That was my schooling.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I started out as a guest at Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Portland, ME, I think in 1995 or ’96. Trevor Marshall, the New Zealand tribal tattoo artist, invited me to share a booth with him. Soon after I was invited to the Dunstable Tattoo Expo by Ian of Reading. I won a bunch of those conventions. Then Steve Bonge invited me to the New York City Roseland Tattoo Convention, which I participated in up until the attacks of 2001. The biggest award was from the American government; it’s called the EB-1 visa. This is for “extraordinary outstanding artistic achievement.” This award is for the most talented people in the world and affords permanent residence to the United States. The typical recipient is an Academy Award winner or Nobel Prize winner. I applied a couple of years ago at the advice of a friend here in America. I sent close to 900 pages of evidence and won the case overwhelmingly.
How do you describe your style?
Painterly. I think the new work gets away from the rigidity and hard lines of Cyprus. I am trying to have the tattoos have a combination of power and delicacy. I want the work to complement the body and emphasize the beautiful shapes of the body. So I guess I would describe my style as sensual.
What inspires you as an artist?
People and beauty. I feel inspired by the very people I tattoo. Artistically I am inspired by other incredible tattoo artists and painters, and that just seems to get stronger. As I discover amazing artists, so does my own interest increase. I open my heart and mind to other artists’ views and ideas; therefore my own art grows emphatically. I strive to better myself all the time. Music and my passion for building stereo equipment keeps my mind flourishing. I want to have artists around me and am looking for very talented tattoo artists
to work with me.
What other media do you work in?
Pencil. Pen and ink mainly. But I also do oil painting and, very rarely, airbrushing. I want to do watercolors
and get into sculpture. I did some fiberglass body casting sculpture in England years ago; that’s something I would like to do with fiber optics and tattoo designs also. Hopefully if I can get employees I will be able to get back into the arts more.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Boris from Hungary. Filip Leu from Switzerland. Shige from Japan. The Greeks are so surprising—Kostas from Thessaloniki, Greece, and Nico from Thessaloniki, Greece. They have really impressed me immensely.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Very painterly, with fluid colors and shapes with certain specific areas detailed. I am trying to experiment—realistic foreground main subjects, and fantasy dreamlike-quality backgrounds. I have been getting into creating a collage of floral shapes with a dreamy out-of-focus look with contrasting sharp and detailed classical pieces, like Bernini-style statues.
Before someone gets a tattoo, what advice do you give them?
Patience is key. Good things come to those who wait.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I am trying new techniques all the time. So it’s more the techniques and the way I tattoo rather than the
subject matter. So I am eager to tattoo the style I have been working on this last year in America, which is a mix of color and black-and-gray. Let’s say it’s a work in progress.