Artists: Tater Tatts
You’re known as Tater, where’d the name come from?
Tater actually came from a party around 10 years ago when I was about 19. I was talking like a hillbilly and I referred to myself and my girlfriend at the time as being like “Punkin n Taters.” It kind of stuck amongst my friends, so later on when I started tattooing I wanted an alias name and Tater Tatts had a nice ring to it.
When and why did you get into tattooing?
I have always been fascinated by tattoos, for as long as I can remember I was drawing all over myself and sticking temporary tattoos everywhere, much to my parents’ disapproval. I tried on many occasions to get into the industry while I was in high school, and later on after completing a graphic design course without success. It wasn’t until I was late in my 1st year/early 2nd year of a metal fabrication apprenticeship that I had a phone call from Scott Kelb who had just started a shop, enquiring if I’d be interested in working for him. As I still had 3 years left in my Fab trade we agreed I would come and start with him after I had completed that. And that’s what we did.
What was your first shop experience like?
Nerve wrecking would be an understatement (laughs).
Did you have a formal apprenticeship?
I would have to say no. I think Scott knew I had a good discipline and work ethic, he was very easy going and let me find my own way. I owe a lot to him, he gave me a shot when no one else would, and let me set high ambitions to aim for. I don’t think I’d be where I am today if it wasn’t for him.
Is the tattoo culture different in Australia than in the states?
Yeah, the last couple of years in Australia, everyone has been tattoo crazy. The younger generation of kids seem to just be getting whatever, wherever trying to be part of a growing image. America seems to have settled down, and seem to think a little more about what they want, from what I’ve seen anyways.
You’re traveling to California for Ink N Iron, are there any other conventions you attended regularly?
There are a couple in Australia, but not really. It’s hard travelling when you have a family, I miss them too much.
While in California you will be doing a few guest spots, where do you guest spot and how often?
I try and come out once a year at least, it’s hard I have a lot of offers to do guest spots but it means I have to spend more time away from home. I usually do Black Anchor, Timeline Gallery and MD Studio, that way I get to catch up with my friends and stay around So-Cal.
Who are some of the artists that you’ve been tattooed by?
Nikko Hurtado, Carlos Rojas, Timmy B, Harley Kirkwood, Matthew “Bumer” Joyce, Benjamin Laukis, Sam Clark, Darren Riordan.
How did you come to work in realism?
I had seen work from artists such as Boris, Nikko, Carlos Rojas, Carlos Torres, Mike Devries, Mick Squires etc. who earlier on really pushed realism tattooing. It seemed like more of a challenge for me, and there weren’t many people in Australia doing it. As a person of competitive nature it was right up my alley.
Many artists working in realism will lean more towards black and grey or color, which is your preference and why?
I honestly enjoy doing even amounts of both, a balanced diet so to speak.
Is there a certain style of tattooing that you would want to branch out to?
I wouldn’t mind getting into a little more new school stuff, but I’d need to loosen up, my brain over thinks everything too much.
If you could do any tattoo you want, what would it be?
Probably a full torso piece based off a painting I had done.
What’s your view on sponsorships, you have quite a few, how do they help or hinder an artist?
It’s funny, I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by products I already constantly used and liked, none of my sponsorships are under signed contract so to speak, so I don’t really feel pressure. It might be a different story if I was under an endorsed paying contract, but at the same time I wouldn’t sign up to a product I wasn’t happy with.
Your Instagram shows that you’re a fan of dirt bikes, do you do this competitively?
If there was anything in the world I could do everyday it would be ride my dirt bike, it has ran through my veins for as long as I can remember. I used to race when I was younger but have to be pretty conservative these days, it’s more of a release for me now.
Do you customize your helmet or bikes?
No, I try to keep all that stuff separate. I might paint a helmet one day though.
Is there anything else you want to talk to the Freshly Inked readers about?
I’d just like to thank you guys for this opportunity, and a big thank you to my girlfriend Emma and son Archie for putting up with me and supporting me.