Artists: Paul Marino
Raw Power Tattoo
930 Bustleton Pike
Feasterville Trevose, PA 19053
What year did you start tattooing?
I started my apprenticeship early 2006 in Colorado, and I was tattooing on the floor full-time
by late 2006.
How did you get into tattooing?
I think I was 6 years old when I told my mom I wanted to tattoo. My uncle has been tattooing out of Illinois
for a long time, and I remember as a kid seeing him do it—I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Art has always been a big part of my family. My grandfather was a figure drawing professor for, like, 30 years or so, and with my uncle tattooing, it was just something I always wanted to do. They used to teach me how to shadow and figure light sources in Disney coloring books. So it was all I knew growing up. As I got older, I would spend a few weeks in the summer and fly out to Chicago and work at my uncle’s shop, and I would learn everything from building needles to tattooing bananas.
Where did you apprentice?
I apprenticed in Colorado, where I’m from, in a shop called Art With a Pulse Tattoo. I had known the owners,
and when the offer came up to apprentice, I took it. I actually worked the desk as I apprenticed. It gave me a chance to learn the business side of things as well as learning tattooing.
Do you have any special training?
Everything I learned was either from my grandfather or uncle growing up. I was always drawing, and they were always teaching me something new, or showing me how to do things right. I learned a lot about art from my grandpa, and I learned a lot about tattooing from my uncle. So there was always a constant flow of information coming my way. I always consider myself lucky to have had that. The rest I pretty much had to figure out. I learn new things every day. That’s one thing I love most about tattooing—it never gets boring if you don’t let it.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I haven’t worked that many conventions, which is one thing I would like to change. I’ve worked one in Colorado, and the last two years at the Philadelphia tattoo convention. I love the energy at them and I really want to start traveling and work more. No awards yet. Probably because I haven’t entered anything yet, ha ha. I’m still at the point where I just enjoy being there and working around a lot of artists I look up to. I would like to start entering some stuff soon, though.
How do you describe your style?
That’s a tough question. Everything has been categorized now. I like to do a lot of realism but throw in things that aren’t realistic. I like the combination of the two; I think they play off each other well. I love doing portraits of everything from flowers to people to animals, but I also love tattooing the kinds of things I draw. I like to be versatile in what I draw and tattoo, but keep it within my style. I ultimately want someone to see my work and know who did it, rather than it looking generic.
What inspires you as an artist?
Oh, man. So much inspires me. As a kid it was always comic books. I wanted to be able to draw like Alex Ross and Todd McFarlane. Those were my heroes. The older I got, and the more into the tattoo world I dove, I started seeing what was possible. You can really be your own person inside your art, and that’s one thing that
inspires me the most. To be able to project an art form into the world for people to look at, critique, and appreciate, is so awesome. It’s really humbling to be in the same profession as some of these artists, but it’s inspiring at the same time to want to do nothing but progress into something you love doing.
What other media do you work in?
I was doing really nothing but pencil and color penciluntil I started working at Raw Power. As soon as I started here, my boss wanted to teach me watercolors. And I found out how much I love it. I mostly do watercolors, but I’ll do the occasional pencil piece. I would really love to learn oils, though. I’ve been wanting to learn oils for a long time, and I’m making it a goal for this year. The more mediums I learn, the better.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
As far as tattoo artists, I really admire Lars Uwe, Jeff Gogue, Rachi Brains, Dmitriy Samohin, Spider Kramer, Carlos Torres, Scotty Munster, Adrian Edek, Bez, Grime, Eddie Kes, etc. I could name a bunch. As far as other artists, I like Alberto Vargas, Alex Ross, Ron Mueck, Michael Hussar, Mike Giant, Shawn Barber, Audrey Kawasaki, David Stoupakis. Those are just a few of my favorites.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Honestly, I look forward to doing any idea they let me run with. I don’t mind tattooing names and symbols, but it’s always a little more exciting when you get to really get to draw a fun idea up. When someone says,“I want this idea but do your own thing,” is always nice to hear. I have a few projects I’m excited to finish, like a torso piece and a back piece we’re almost done with. I would like to do more large-size stuff like that. Close friends
always are good to have when you want to do something really fun, because chances are they are cool with whatever you choose to do.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
I would like to tattoo more older artists that have been tattooing for a long time. It’s cool to see their insight on things and to get tips and learn new ways of doing things. Of course, tattooing the artists I admire would
always be awesome. Hell, tattooing a celebrity would be sweet too.
Before someone gets a tattoo, what advice do you give them?
It depends on the person, I suppose. If it is their first tattoo, I like to make sure it’s what they really want. Your
first tattoo is much better in my opinion when it’s something that has meaning behind it. If I know a tattoo won’t work or won’t look right, I try to work something out and draw something different to make it work. I’m very honest with a customer. I’m not just about to take their money; I want it to look as best as it can because it has my name on it too.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Actually, I have been wanting to do some more torso pieces, back pieces, leg sleeves, and body suits. I just want to be doing more large-scale tattoos like that. I know a body suit is few and far between, but I would love to tattoo one. I really want to tattoo some of my paintings too.