Artists: Steve Butcher
Ship Shape Tattoo
How did you get into tattooing?
I’m self-taught and I started tattooing in 2011. I had a friend, who was tattooing at the time, see one of my paintings I was doing for art school and suggest I try tattooing. So I did. I played around at home for a year or so tattooing my friends and pretty much anyone who would let me tattoo them. I got my first professional job in a street shop in Auckland City named Streetwise.
Your work is very well rounded. You do great color, black and grey, and realism. Is there a preferred work you like to do?
I like to do color because I find it more challenging, but I like to do everything. I feel like if I only did color or only did black and grey that I’d get bored, so I like to mix it up and try to get better at both.
What type of tattoos were you doing back when you started?
When I started I did anything and everything, but whatever it was I tried to make it perfect. But when I started learning more, I got really interested in illustrative and Oriental tattoos, although I knew I always wanted to do realism. It was just hard back then to try and get people to do what I wanted. I still really enjoy doing Oriental and illustrative tattoos but the realism is just more popular at the moment.
So if you have the freedom to do a certain tattoo, what would it be?
That’s a tough one. Anything NBA themed, as I am a basketball nut. [Laughs] I like to tattoo things like comic characters, animals, movie portraits, real pop culture based imagery. As for placement and size, every tattooer would say pretty much the same good spots: forearm, inner bicep, side of lower leg, thighs, etc. But, if the customer’s up for it, I like to do huge oversized stuff, full fronts and backs and shit. I feel they have somewhat of a wow factor.
Do you feel you’ve gotten where you wanted in your tattoo work?
No way! There’s always more to learn and apply in your work, and, because I’ve only been tattooing for four years, I feel that I’m only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting where I want to be.
Where do you usually find inspiration?
Pop culture is probably my biggest influence. I enjoy tattooing and painting, as do most artists. When I started tattooing the artists that inspired me were Dean Sacred, Erin Chance, Nikko Hurtado, Carlos Torres, Matt Jordan, and Mick Squires just to name a few. Now it’s pretty much the same people as well as everyone else killing it like Benjamin Laukis, Dmitriy Samohin, Carlos Rojas, Seunghyun Jo and the list goes on and on! I get a lot of inspiration just from watching what everyone else is producing and just wanting to push myself to get better.
Are there any conventions that you regularly attend or countries you usually guest spot in?
I do quite a few guest spots and conventions in Australia at the moment, but I have only just started traveling. I recently did a Europe trip and attended the Zwickau convention in Germany, guest spotted with the guys from Fallout Tattoo in Munzenberg and with the wizards, Tommy Lee Wendtner and Mark Weatherhead at Monsters Under Your Bed in Koln. I also attended the Milano convention in Italy, but I intend on doing a lot of travelling in the years to come, so I’m sure I’ll develop some regulars.
Do you practice any other art medium?
Yeah, I love to paint. I’ve just gotten into oils, but acrylics and pencil is what I use a lot of at the moment.
Are there any projects that you are involved with these days?
No projects as such, just lots of tattooing and painting. I am going to be traveling more, as I said, and want to start doing a lot more conventions and guest spots, so you’ll see me around a bit more. As for shout outs, a massive one goes out to Matt Jordan, if it weren’t for his guidance I wouldn’t be where I am today, and to the other bros back at Ship Shape, Hokowhitu Sciascia and Coen Mitchell! They’re killing it!