Lions and Tigers and Gauge the Robot!

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Haight Ashbury Tattoo and Piercing
1525 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 431-2218

Shaun Christopher

Shaun Christopher

Shaun Christopher, Tattoo Artist

MI: I checked out your website before coming over, and I saw something really interesting. What is a dermal implant?

Shaun: It’s a surface piercing. It’s put into your skin and the way the jewelry is made, the skin grows through the metal.

MI: I also saw a tattoo of the tiger that was put down at the SF Zoo.

Shaun: You mean the tribute to the tiger Tatiana, who was shot to death by police last year.

Tatiana the tiger

Tatiana the tiger

MI: What was the story behind it?

Shaun: Some drunk guys were taunting the tiger and it got out and mauled one of them. This tattoo was done on one of the guys who works here at the counter. It was an icon of the city that was tragically killed.

MI: This is somewhat tangentially related: what about the tattoo of the Lion of Judah?

Shaun: That’s the rasta lion. The Rastafarian lion represents the king of Ethiopia who’s supposed to be the new Jesus.

Lion of Judah

Lion of Judah

MI: Thanks, this is really educational! Finally, who is Mimoso Raton?

Shaun: That was a joke. I had a Mexican friend back in LA and Mimoso is the Mexican version of Barney the Dinosaur, except he’s old school and ghetto and very funny. He’s from the early 80s.

Mimoso Raton, Mexican Barney

Mimoso Raton, Mexican Barney

MI: So you used to live in LA? The classic question: what do you think about LA vs SF?

Shaun: I moved up here 3 months ago. It’s a lot more laid back and chill out here. People are more uptight in LA. Lots of big egos. People here tend to be more settled down and down to earth and cool.

MI: Where did you work in LA, and what’s unique about tattooing in LA vs SF?

Shaun: I worked at the Tattoo Lounge in West LA. Tattooing here is more traditional. In LA, it was more gangster-style tattooing.

MI: What’s gangster?

Shaun: Mainly black and gray tattoos. Drama masks, hand guns, a lot of script, prison-style stuff. Hands throwing up gang signs, like West side. Skulls too, but it has to be scary. If it isn’t scary then it isn’t gangster.

MI: Describe your style and how you formed it.

Shaun: I used to airbrush a lot and graffiti, and I would always draw. All of that is reflected in my artwork now. I do a lot of sculptural stuff, interlocking shapes. A whole bunch of outlines in interlocking shapes, really dynamic. Dynamic colorwork. Because dynamic is really dimensional and really bold.

MI: This is my favorite right tattoo, this robot here.

Shaun: When I was younger I used to draw this robot character named Gauge. I used to draw him as a big 7-foot robot who fucks shit up. So then as an adult, I drew a child version of him.

Gauge the robot

Gauge the robot

MI: Tell us more about Gauge. Do you still have those drawings?

Shaun: Well, about 3 years ago, my father was like, hey I got these pictures you drew when you were a kid, and I was like what the fuck, this is so cool. So I thought it would be cool to do a little kid version.

MI: That’s awesome!

Shaun: Yeah I thought it was awesome too, so I got him tattooed on my arm!

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