Artists: Phil Wilkinson
What year did you start tattooing?
I started in the year 2010; this is my fourth year in the industry. Time has flown by. I still remember the day everything came my way.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was very lucky to be given a chance by Daniel Watson of Vida Loca Tattoo in Bolton. A few months earlier, I had been tattooing melons and closest friends. I completely understand this is the wrong way and I would not advise going down this route. I remember most nights e-mailing studios, pour- ing my heart out, begging them to give me a chance—and most of the time, hearing nothing back. On the odd occasion, I’d hear from a studio with positive feedback, but no sign of progress- ing into the industry. I thought my opportunity would never arise.
What was your first shop experience like?
Vida Loca Tattoo has a good reputation—a busy high street studio with plenty of work. This was my first studio experience! It opened my eyes to different aspects of tattooing, within subjects that once never interested me. I’m glad I took my chance to explore the variety of styles. I find it’s made me the person I am today with the art I produce. I realize in the stage of my career now that every last little job I took on was very important to my progress.
How do you describe your style?
Over the years of tattooing, I developed my passion of traditional. It’s strange to believe how much I have progressed. I hear on a regular basis how my style stands out in a unique way, that it is instantly recognized to my name. It’s surreal at times. Describing your own style is possibly the hardest thing ever! I do like the use of symbols to incorporate an urban feeling. All that I want to produce is a nice, clean, bold tattoo that pops off of the skin. Black is predominantly combined with bold colors within my pieces.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
This is simply down to my biggest inspirations, Timmy B. and Sam Ricketts!
What inspires you as an artist?
I love the feeling of freedom within art; this inspires me to be an artist. Every day I get to push my own twist, whether producing a tattoo, sketch, or general artwork. I love the medium of markers. This is my recent love toward art!
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I’m at the stage in my career where I can work purely from Facebook and Instagram being my business. These internet sensations have pushed my name to where I can work only from appointments via e-mail. I am lucky enough to receive the basics of ideas, where I can push my twist and style to what I want to produce as a tattoo. Any idea will interest me, as I will always see an interpretation that I can push toward my style.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Give me an animal and a rose any day; I’ll instantly be your best friend! I’ll never force a design upon anyone; I just hope to God that they like what I see in my mind. The majority of the time, no redesign is needed. It’s incredibly hard for me to like a design I create. I guess most artists can agree with me on this one. I constantly put myself down; soon enough it will get the better of me. This is where I need to realize and stop myself!
What sets you apart from other artists?
My artwork is a form of self-expression. I have found a way to incorporate self-expression within passion. After all, that’s what art is, it’s a means to express yourself. The bold colors and symbolism reflect my personality and beliefs. I’m a believer of God. This helps me in ways of pushing myself, to never give up. I see myself going further; this allows me to see an improvement, knowing I want to achieve more.
What do you look for in an apprentice?
All I can say is tattooing is my life. Hopefully I can push my drive onto my apprentice, Rob Oldfield, a.k.a. RACO. His determination will help him succeed. He has a ton of knowledge already from studying the tattoos of incredible artists. Whether it’s the shape and structure of the design, or the use of shading, color, and placement, I find every aspect of these to be very important. These will help him every step of the way in his future career. I have faith.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
This year I have had the pleasure of tattooing at the Brighton convention, Liverpool, and the Krakow convention in Poland. These were all very important events to me, and I’d like to think that they have helped me progress into the tattoo industry. I had the greatest of opportunities working alongside Adriaan Machete twice in his studio, Death Machete Gallery in Berlin. This was a huge achievement to me; I’ve always admired his work and to finally meet him was super! I’ve seen a difference in clients whilst tattooing in central Europe. They have crazier ideas; they allow more freedom in my design. It’s as if they don’t really care as long as it looks cool, which I love. Maybe I see myself tattooing in this part of the world in years to come full- time; sunshine is needed. My plans for next year are possibly New Zealand and America, working conventions and guest spots to further myself—exciting times. On top of these you’ll find me working on my project One Day Gallery, a private tattoo studio in Man- chester. I’m always looking to push myself further; bigger and better projects are always needed in my eyes.