Artists: Phillip Spearman
Northridge, CA 91330
FRESHLY INKED: What year did you start tattooing?
PHILLIP SPEARMAN: I started tattooing in 1998.
How did you get into tattooing?
A friend of mine told me that if I knew how to draw, that I could tattoo. I said BS—I didn’t even know what a tattoo machine looked like. He kept bothering me, so I tattooed him and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I got to put my drawing on someone and it would follow them until the day they died … that is, if they don’t get it covered. Ha ha ha. Then I met a tattoo artist named Mark. My brother Anthony introduced him to me and he did my first tattoo. Then I kept bugging him to help me start tattooing and he did, so off to the races I went.
Where did you apprentice?
I didn’t get a proper apprenticeship. I tried to get an apprenticeship everywhere and no one wanted to give me an opportunity. So I created my own opportunity. I always respected everyone in the industry and tried to follow in everyone’s footsteps. So I guess you can say I have a piece of everyone with me.
Do you have any special training?
No formal special training when it comes to tattooing and drawing. I just never stop and/or take no for an answer.
What conventions have you worked at?
Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
I’ve pretty much worked at every convention worth working at all around the world: London, Milan, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, and everywhere in between. Yes, I have won many awards now, but I’ve gotten the most recognition from the tattoos that I didn’t win—the ones where all my peers saw it and were blown away. That was worth more to me than any award that I would have won.
How do you describe your style?
My style of tattooing has a wide range. If you look at my stuff you can see fine line influences, Japanese influences, black-and-gray, color, Korean, etc. My style is just a big curveball and constantly evolving. I can’t put my finger on it yet. I’m still growing … and not finished.
What inspires you as an artist?
My peers, friends, everyone in the industry, museums, art, and whatever my eyes can scan—anything visual.
What sets you apart from other artists?
Jack of all genres. Willingness to put in the work and go the extra mile that others won’t.
What other mediums do you work in?
Pencil, pens, markers, oil painting, pastels.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I partnered with Tatsoul to create Tatsoul Spearman, a tattoo supply company that creates and sells the highest-quality products in the industry. I’m a world traveler making major business deals. I’m just getting warmed up, so stay tuned!
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Whoever puts their mark on the world and puts their nuts on the table.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
Obama, George Bush, Alan Greenspan, and Hillary Clinton.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Spend the money—you get what you pay for.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
All of the above! Everything I do is original.