What is it like sharing a studio with your wife?
Even though we work in the same studio, we have completely private areas. It allows you to talk about things when you get home because you really haven’t spent all day together. That’s a saving grace. But we definitely understand each other more because of the shared frustrations that go along with tattooing. I know this is going to sound biased, but I consider her a really strong artist. If I didn’t, it would be really hard to be with her. I love her in every other capacity, but I really don’t like bad tattooing. So if she wasn’t good, that would be a problem for me.
PluraBella is a private studio without a sign. Do you ever miss the traditional shop experience?
I do, and I’m able to mix that in through extensive travel. I get a bit isolated, and I have a really heavy workload. Four months will go by in the blink of an eye just working through what I have to do. But we have built in probably three to four months of travel a year. Over the last 10 years, I’ve been to eight different countries and have tattooed in something like 50 or 60 different shops. That fills in that need. You miss the camaraderie. Tattoo artists are good storytellers. So I get a dose of it, but then after about a week or two, I’m ready to come home.
What is it about bigger custom pieces that appeals to you?
My overall goal is to work holistically on the body. I always take into account the person’s unique physiology, and the larger-scale stuff demands it. It presents a compositional challenge to create a homogenous, complete picture. My personal goal is bodysuits. That’s what I see as the acme of tattooing. When you’re able to get clients that are willing to commit on that level and have the wherewithal, both financially and mentally, you can achieve those goals. I spent the first five or 10 years doing a lot of portraits. I was known as the portrait guy. That was fine then, but for me the most difficult and rewarding work is the larger stuff. The ultimate is a complete bodysuit done by one individual. I have gone so far as to do both arms, the back, and some legs. But my clients almost always have some previous work from someone else, and as of right now I haven’t completed one.
What are you currently working on outside of tattooing?
Right now, I’m halfway through carving a one-off guitar for the Gretsch company. I have actually done three of those for Jack White of the White Stripes, one of which appeared in the documentary It Might Get Loud. The people at Gretsch saw it and they commissioned me. I have also done a lot of engraving. I hand-engrave plates for making prints. I do a lot of painting and charcoal. One new thing I have been doing is making my own drawing boards. I just cut really nice pieces of Masonite and draw on them with Sharpies and sell them as originals.
Plurabella Tattoo Studio : http://www.plurabella.com/