Artists: Paul Booth
511 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10001
What year did you start tattooing?
I believe it was 1988, pretty close to Halloween.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was residing in Hell at the time. I had taken up painting to try and kill the boredom, and after a while Satan had taken notice and honestly just would not stop bugging me about it. He had this tattoo reality show that I guess was some kind of tattoo school thing. I think he was just desperate for fresh meat—he would’ve thrown any wannabe on there, really. Anyway, I finally gave in and in just two weeks, I was a licensed pofeshimal tat artist … from hell. I now reside in New York City, collecting souls for the master.
Do you have any special training?
Yes—I had a lot of special training, actually. I attribute most of my success to it. It was quite a while ago, when I was rather young. So I must admit it was pretty difficult at first. But as you know, with most things that are trial and error, I eventually prevailed. Really, it wasn’t until my parents gave me a footstool to climb up and a seat insert so I wouldn’t fall into the bowl that I succeeded. Been pretty good ever since—for the most part.
How do you describe your style?
Whatever medium that I’m working in, my style and creative approach really come from the same place. If a category is truly necessary, I’m content just considering myself a “dark surrealist.”
What inspires you as an artist?
That’s a pretty easy one. Just look at the world around you. Inspiration exists everywhere—that is, of course, if you find yourself amazed and bewildered by how fucked up humans have made the world. I guess I am just really intrigued with everything related to the macabre, death, and the dark side of the human condition.
What other mediums do you work in?
It seems like everything I touch sorta becomes a medium. I create out of necessity, so everything I do tends to be “sculpted.” I approach all my art, whether it be on skin, canvas, or otherwise, as a sculpture.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
Actually, I was a painter before I was a tattooer. If I am not exploring new territory or attempting to perfect whatever I am trying to master, then I don’t see the point of doing anything. I don’t really think of it as branching out. It’s all more of a lateral journey that just evolves as I progress.
What is next for you artistically?
Something bigger and better—or something bigger and worse, judging from my track record.
What tattoo artists do you admire?
I will always maintain tremendous respect for the Leu family.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
It seems the older I get, the more intrigued I am with the psychology of it all with my clients. I feel like the things about tattooing that I feel I understand and appreciate more than ever are the things that can only seem to come with age. I always felt tattoo art had a certain power, but as I got older I dealt more and more with clients seeking something with heavier personal meaning and empowerment. Many out there can’t get past the surface with what I do, but for my client and me, there is a much deeper significance to many of these
images. And that’s just how I like it to be.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
Before someone gets a tattoo, what advice do you give them?
It’s more about feeling them out, especially if they are new to it. For my own ethics alone, I need to be sure they know what they are getting into. Especially with me, as often my work can be a bit intense for some. I try and weed out the social climbers looking for a status symbol. These days the only tattoo virgins I deal with are older, sometimes even hitting 50 or 60 years old. That rules!
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Yes—all of them.