Rotary Motor + Guitar String + Baby Oil = Tattoo Gun

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Tattoo Heaven
98 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 645-1893
http://www.myspace.com/tattooheavennyc

 Ray Trzaska, tattoo artist

Ray Trzaska, tattoo artist

Ray Trzaska
Tattoo Artist

MI: Tell us about how you became a tattooer.

Ray: Every since I was a little kid, I liked to draw, work with modeling clay and things like that. I was always creative, always building or making stuff, with wood or whatever I could find. Then in my teenage years, I partied and got away from my artistic side. As young adult, I was incarcerated. That’s where I picked it up again.

MI: Your artistic side? Is that where you learned how to tattoo?

Ray: Yeah. I used to draw a lot when I first got incarcerated. People saw my artwork and they said, “you should start tattooing.” There, you make everything yourself. You make the machine out of any kind of motor, a cd player, tape cassette player, hair trimmers, any rotary machine or motor we could get our hands on. You use guitar string, peel the coil off the guitar string, for different gauges for whatever kind of needle you need to make. Prison is like everywhere else—you can get whatever you need, and there are people who specialize in everything. We’d get gloves from boxes they had for when they do shakedowns. So it was able to be done in a sterile manner. You make a new tube, make a new needle, wear gloves…

MI: What about the ink?

Ray: Well you make a baby oil candle—you put a wick in there and it makes a black soot. You catch it and scrape it off. You mix some mouthwash and alcohol and you boil it. It’s actually some pretty black ink. Some of the best work I’ve ever seen was done in prison.

MI: What’s your tattooing style?

Ray: I guess I’m pretty versatile, not stuck on one specific form of tattooing. I’m not totally into the whole Asian/Japanese thing, what I prefer to do is big pieces like sleeves or back pieces, black and gray custom work.

MI: Influenced by the how and where you learned to tattoo?

Ray: Yeah I think that has a lot to do with it. I like black and gray, but I have my own style. There’s movement, flow in my tattoos. I like to have movement in any kind of work, especially the filler work.
To be honest, I don’t get to do much of my own work. Sometimes it’s just a job. People are stubborn and they don’t take your advice, they don’t listen to what you have to say. It’s not so artistic, and that’s when it becomes a job. I like original custom work, when people bring me ideas.

MI: Your artistic purity gets compromised.

Ray: You have to, to survive in New York with all the competition. If you’re not Paul Booth here, you gotta do whatever comes through the door. If someone comes in and says they want a little kanji, you have to do it. At least until you build your reputation and then you can say fuck off.

MI: Tell us about the design you submitted to our contest, “One.”

Ray: Basically the design is an image of me and my kid’s mother. It’s based on a picture of us. She’s actually an artist and she takes a lot of images and does drawings from those images. She would send tons and tons of images to me when I was incarcerated and I would look for something to spark my creative interest.

"One" by hostileink

The actual drawing is 4 feet by 2 feet. It’s charcoal done on vellum and basically it’s what I want to get tattooed on my back. The drawing was a gift for her. I also made a sculpture from the same image. It’s two people becoming one.

MI: Hence the title. The sculpture is really beautiful. How did you make it?

Ray: The sculpture is made of soap. I shaped it down then watered it and turn it into clay. It’s the same way you would work with clay, build upon it and shape it, carve it.

MI: How did you get the color?

Ray: I stained it with coffee, buffed it out with a damp cloth and polyurethane.

MI: Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck in Metal Ink’s design contest!

One Response to “Rotary Motor + Guitar String + Baby Oil = Tattoo Gun”

  1. check out more of my art on facebook. i have tons of high quality work on this page…..http://www.facebook.com/pages/hostile-ink/106301779352?ref=ts

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