AITCHISON: Definitely an experience in multiple mediums can make it much easier to learn how to draw. really, when you think about it, tattooing is a very difficult art form, one of the most difficult. So how can being a better artist in general possibly not make you a better tattoo artist? As far as what kind of medium, i don’t think it really matters. Color pencil, watercolor, sculpture—you don’t have the same limitations as on skin. You don’t have a client telling you what they want, you can make mistakes, and you can figure out what your thing is. In the course of it, you can learn more about yourself and bring it back to your tattooing. There are people who have come up to me and said, “Show me how to do a better tattoo.” If you want to be a better tattoo artist, become a more sensitive person, become smarter, turn off your darn TV. But what they are hoping for is a bag of tricks. It isn’t a bag of tricks. it’s a whole outlook. It’s a whole lifestyle.
What projects are you working on now?
WORTMAN: I am working on a long-term project: It’s a book about the work that I do. I’m documenting the women I tattoo and their collection, starting from the very beginning to the end results—their journey. All the pieces I’m taking on right now are pieces that will be a part of the book. When the book is done, it will be a 20-year project. I’d like the book to be out in 2020. I like the number.
AITCHISON: Over the past three years, myself and a group of other artists who specialize in biomech have created somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 finished full-color sleeve designs for a book project—The Biomech Encyclopedia—which I’m hoping to release by the end of 2012. It’s going to be a massive book on abstract tattoos, and it will touch on every part of the bandwidth that it can. It’s an online collaborative process in which we kind of mix and match each other’s work, and it’s all amazingly good stuff.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations.
AITCHISON: I’ve collaborated a lot in the course of my career, with dozens and dozens of people. If you want to open your doors and get out of your normal habit—because, as artists, we are deeply habitual—try working with another artist. It can be a great experience.
I assume the two of you collaborate on a lot of things as well.
AITCHISON: We’ve done many collaborations on skin and canvas. We’re collaborating on a child right now. [Laughs.] Sometimes when one of us is working on a design for a client and we’re trying to decide something, we’ll sit down and tinker with each other’s computer simulations; we’ll talk over ideas with each other. So there’s a lot of collaboration, as in any partnership, on every level.