Artists: Timmy B
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2005. It definitely wasn’t the best way to start and I definitely wish I had some sort of apprenticeship, but I guess working out of people’s kitchens and doing tattoo parties every weekend was one way to do it. Aside from the fact that our autoclave was a toaster oven and that I had to scrub tubes bare-handed, it at least got me somewhat into the world of tattooing.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing because I had harassed a local kitchen magician tattooer for months after he tattooed one of my best friends in his kitchen. I was 17 and no shop was interested, so I harassed this guy until he finally agreed to show me the ropes. He would take me with him to tattoo parties and have me make line drawings for him of tattoos that he would do. Sometimes these parties lasted for upward of 12 hours, so I would be tracing and watching him all day long. He paid me $100 a day to do this and I couldn’t believe that I could make that kind of money just by drawing. I was hooked. From there, he slowly taught me how to tattoo, so we would be side-by-side tattooing in people’s living rooms all across western Massachusetts.
Do you have any special training?
I don’t have any special art training at all. I’ve never learned how to draw the right way or paint or anything. my old boss, Dustin Golden, taught me how to watercolor, and that’s about as formal as I got as far as art training went.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
I’ve worked at way too many shows, and some have been across the globe, including France and Liverpool. I do a lot in America, in pretty much every state you can think of. Some amazing memories may be better saved for my own brain than on paper because most of them include things I would never recommend people doing. Let’s just say some artists like to get a little crazy and jump off of roofs into pools or fill hot tubs with a nearby planted tree. I have been very fortunate in the award-winning category. I’ve won more than I ever thought I would, and I’m always humbled by it. It’s very flattering, but you can’t let a trophy or a piece of wood define who you are as an artist, and it by no means should make you think you’re better than anyone.
How do you describe your style?
My style is something that sort of just developed over time. I loved realism for the first few years of my career and I loved new school too. Tony Ciavarro is a Massachusetts tattooer, and I was obsessed with him when I started. So I tried to do that and failed. Then I jumped into realism and really learned a lot. My style is a mix of realism, traditional, and new school, and whatever else people want to call it.
What inspires you as an artist?
As an artist I think I am inspired by everything. Nature, animals, advertisements and the ancient color theory behind them, murals and street art—even restaurant art has come into some of my tattoos before.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think some things that set me apart as an artist—and I hope these are true—are that I always try and be humble, talkative, and nice to people. I want up-and-coming artists to be able to come up to me just like I went up to Bob Tyrrell, Nikko Hurtado, and Kyle Cotterman and be received with pleasant interaction. I don’t want to be an untouchable rock star guy, and I wholeheartedly try to just be relaxed and helpful to anyone. I also always wear a disgusting red Coca-Cola hat, so that probably sets me apart the most. I think most people probably shower more too. But that’s another story.
What other mediums do you work in?
The only other mediums I work in currently are watercolors. I’m about to start trying my way with some colored pencils and markers, and I’d love to learn to oil paint, but currently I’m living out of trash bags with three cats that have to live in my bedroom with me due to the imminent fear of dogs tearing them apart. So once I get on my feet and get my own place in New York, hopefully I can start painting again and experimenting a bit.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
The artists i admire most are the ones with no egos. I don’t care if you’re just starting or you’re super famous. I think that if you are really talented and an overall just good person that that makes you incredible to me.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
The kind of tattoos I look forward to doing at this point are the ones where my clients really think outside of the box. I love a challenge if I feel I can do a good job with it, and I love when people have two or three ideas that you would normally never associate as being together in one piece. I also enjoy the old-fashioned morph tattoo. Throwing some antlers on a human or a duck or something—classic. Oh, and you can never go wrong with a skull of any kind. But we all know that.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Before someone gets a tattoo I’ll usually just make sure they know the process really well, that they know they don’t have to do anything, and you always want to make sure they’ve eaten and drank enough fluids, but that’s all standard, I think. I’ll also try and make sure they’re just very mentally prepared and have a really good idea of what’s about to happen. But the best advice I can give is really just to sit still and laugh at my jokes. They might suck sometimes but if I’m tattooing you, you better laugh, dammit.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Honestly, there really isn’t any tattoo i’ve been dying to do. I mean, I’d love to start dabbling into different styles and experimenting with new ways of approaching old things, but I’m very content with working on my clients who provide me with a list of things they like and allow me to pretty much do whatever I want with them.