Archive for Metal Ink designer interviews

10,000 Tattoos & Counting…

Posted in Designer Interviews, Tattoo Artist Interviews with tags , , , , on January 15, 2010 by metalinkshop

40% Off All Metal Ink Merchandise! Shop our New Year’s Sale and take advantage of this once-a-year discount before it’s too late! Sale ends Saturday, 1/16/10. Use code “shop2010” at checkout to get your 40% discount!

Joe Drache, tattoo artist

Joe Drache, tattoo artist

Accent Tattoo
207 South State Street
Ukiah, CA 95482-4904
(707) 462-6884

MI: How long have you been tattooing?

Joe: I’ve been tattooing for 20 years. I started out as amateur at 17, using homemade equipment and doing it the wrong way. It was a weekend hobby for 8 years before I did an apprenticeship in a tattoo shop and I learned how to do it correctly.

MI: This was in Ukiah?

Joe: This all started in Virginia where I grew up. I was living around the Norfolk area, where at the time it was illegal to have a tattoo shop. But there were shops within 100 yards of where I lived.

MI: Who was the clientele?

Joe: I had some sailors but mostly it was middle class people, people who knew me, or found me through word of mouth. I tattooed police officers. It wasn’t a serious crime. If I had gotten caught, I would have been fined $50 because I didn’t have a shop or a license. Most of these people were coming to me on someone’s recommendation—they had already heard of my practice. Even as an amateur, I was using brand new needles for every client.

MI: Describe your style.

Joe: It originally grew out of my own drawing ability. I was drawing pictures since I was a baby. I always drew monsters, girls, motorcycles, typically boy stuff. I started looking at magazines, and pretty early on, 15 years ago, I started getting influenced by Paul Booth.

MI: His work is so black and gray, very dark images.

Joe: Not only visually dark, but emotionally dark. Usually involving murder and brain matter and what have you.

MI: So how did you develop your own style?

Joe: It wasn’t until I went through my apprenticeship that I learned how to tattoo the right way. The first thing I learned how to do was copy my boss, to do everything the way he does it. Once I had that down pat, I was able to infuse it with my own flavors, so to speak. What I do best is fine line black and gray, which was the style of the guy who taught me. I’m still very much his student, but I try to take it to my own level.

MI: Who are artists you admire?

Joe: Robert Hernandez, a really phenomenal tattoo artist from Madrid. In my honest opinion, he’s the best artist in the whole world. I try to emulate his techniques, texture, light, shadow, surreal subject matter.

MI: How many people have you tattooed?

Joe: The number’s probably close to 10,000. I can do the math…back in the early days when I was an amateur tattooer, I was busier. There were some days I would do 10 tattoos in a row. These days I do about 3 a day.

MI: Incredible! Tell us about one of your favorite tattoos.

Joe: Probably one of my favorite tattoos of recent times is the WWII scene I did on a guy’s leg. But I have a new favorite tattoo every 6 months because I keep outdoing myself. I haven’t quite hit my plateau in terms of my skills.

MI: So was this person a veteran?

Joe: No, his dad was in WWII and he had become a WWII buff. I was happy to take on the subject matter, and from there I ran with it and I started throwing all these ideas at him and he really just went along with it for the most part. I wanted to include the tank and the two men battling hand to hand. I wanted to capture all the archetypical angles. Then on the bottom there’s the paratroopers and the dogfights going on…

MI: It’s definitely a detailed piece, with a lot going on.

Joe: I used a little bit of white to help accentuate the foreground pieces—it’s to separate things and create the illusion of depth.

MI: Never heard of using white ink in that way!

Joe: The white ink is mixed into the foreground elements. You think they’re jumping out at you because they’re slightly different. It’s not like you notice the white since it’s mixed in.

MI: Your work is phenomenal and it’s great to see that you recently submitted a design, “Repent,” to our design contest. Out of curiosity, as a tattoo artist, are you able to tell which designs in our contest were drawn by fellow tattooers vs graphic artists?

Joe: Only to some degree, because more and more graphic artists are coming into the tattoo industry.

MI: Well, if you have an artistic bent, it’s all you need! Good luck with “Repent” and for all our readers, please support Joe by casting your vote for his design on!

*Winning designs are printed on t-shirts, and designers are awarded $700 cash, $300 store credit, plus residuals from t-shirt sales on!

Starry_eyez, Our Latest Superstar Designer!

Posted in Designer Interviews with tags , , , , on December 4, 2009 by metalinkshop

Happy Holidays! The Metal Ink Holiday Sale is on now through 12/15. Get an unprecedented 40% OFF EVERYTHING! Just use code “shop40” at checkout to get your 40% discount. All shirts are now $9-$11 so buy some for your friends and stock up for yourself too!

We spoke to another recent winner of our design contest, Starry_eyez, creator of “Toil and Tears” from which we made a men’s t-shirt in black and our first-ever women’s tank dress. Make sure you check them both out and for a limited time, get them for 40% off regular price! See all merchandise on sale in our Shop section.

Men's shirt now $11

Tank Dress now $17

MI: AJ, aka Starry_eyez, you are an amazing designer. Tell us how you got started.

AJ: Thank you for calling me an “amazing designer,” I appreciate it. To me the most amazing designers/artists are J-I-M-I-Y-O, Dzeri29, God Machine, Steve Hanks…they are magicians and wonderful people. I have to give my special thanks to DBH for making me a T designer…DBH was my first inspiration in this field, I am still pretty new to it and I am learning each and every day.

AJ aka Starry_eyez

Since my childhood I have enjoyed drawing. Actually my beloved dad doesn’t like that artsy work, he’s a programmer. But I loved arts and beautiful things, so I was determined to not to give up both of the fields. Now I have a solid degree in Computing, Mbcs+etc and etc also in other ways, I’m trying to develop my artsy skills as a designer and an artist…here’s a few of my recent works, randomly…

Drawing of the sexiest woman on earth – Ms. Jolie

iPhone wallpaper for a client

You can check out my blog for more:

MI: What was the inspiration behind “Toil and Tears”? Any special reason why it’s written “Tears and Toil” on the print?

AJ: The inspiration for my printed Metal Ink design was Ms. Jolie…

She revealed two of her tattoos (Toil & Tears) in Gothic script on her upper arms in her movie “Wanted.” It came from a speech Sir Winston made on the day he took office in 1940. It’s a homage to the Second World War Prime Minister. From his speech, “We have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat…”

I loved the movie and thought of trying to focus on it, so if you notice the floral stuff in the design are traditional mythical flowers named “tear flowers.”

Also added some vector icons. My special thanks go to my buddy Sam Banarsee who helped me a lot with making of the design.

MI: With “Toil and Tears,” we made our first tank dress! What do you think?

AJ: Whoa! I think the tank dress came out really GREAT! I am glad to see it’s at the top of the Top-selling list! Ladies please check it out yo ^_^

MI: You’re a prolific designer with T-shirts being sold on lots of crowdsourcing sites besides Metal Ink. How did you first hear about us, and how has your experience been working with Metal Ink? What makes us different or unique from other crowdsourcing t-shirt sites?

AJ: Thanks, my designs were printed at teextile, Riptapperal etc…I am so glad, in this year I got a chance to work with Fearless Records-usa, best client ever and I love their bands, especially Alesana (the scremo guys with emo haircuts, lol). Thanks also to DBH’s Oddeti 😉 for the first time I landed on Metal Ink at last year. I followed his link and entered the MI design contest. My first submitted design was for a thong…LOL! My past 2 or 3 designs were rejected and then I came up with 2 new designs.

Working with Metal Ink is…so damn AWESOME! I love it…I feel really lucky to be printed at Metal Ink. Beautiful inked models–Radeo and Bambu are quite the hotties! Plus there are so many awesome designs. And the site is very attractive and professional.

MI: The unavoidable question: do you have any tattoos? If so, what is it? If not, what would you get and why?

AJ: Nope, not yet…I think I’m scared of needles. Hmm I might get one…if so, it has to be:
It’s a word of 5 letters, and it has a secret meaning in binary. I’m a geeky gal without being an anti-social loser.

MI: The perfect combination. What is your favorite medium for designing? Is it all on computer programs, or do you like to sketch and do things manually?

AJ: I love to sketch and draw. I still learn how to convert them digitally, but I go for both ways.

MI: Do you have any formal training, aka art school?

AJ: No, I’ve never been to art school but I would love to. And yes I’m hoping to go when I go abroad again in a few years’ time.

MI: What advice would you give to someone interested in designing t-shirts for Metal Ink?

AJ: I think it will be a really cool opportunity, so go for it! Illustrations on an A4 paper can be converted to a really nice shirt if you scan it with high resolution, or it could be a very well done design that you worked on with Illustrator or Photoshop.

MI: So Thanksgiving having passed recently here in the U.S., I want to ask, what 3 things are you most thankful for at this moment?

AJ: Aw man, there’s a huge list! Here I go:
1. I’m thankful for my family, I love you so much Mum!
2. I’m thankful for my sweetheart, I’m so lucky to have you in my life.
3. I’m thankful for all of my friends, my Facebook friends, my design friends, friends here, friends there, friends everywhere, love ya.
4. I’m thankful for my favourite dog. Rose is sweet. Rose is cuddly. Rose is awesome. But she can still scare others by just showing her face, haha!
5. I’m thankful for my karate master, he made me so strong.
6. I’m thankful for the Internet and my laptop.
7. I’m thankful for Me, hell yes! AJ you are awesome!
8. I’m thankful for Sam, pencils, shiny toy guns, Megan Fox, music, Clarie, Brian, Ashley, Paddy, World of War Craft and some other random ppl/things.
9. & finally I’m thankful for the METAL INK! You guys rule!

Well 3 become 9, sorry guys. ^_^

Our Newest Addiction: Rydell, Metal Ink’s 1st Designer/Maiden!

Posted in Design Challenges, Designer Interviews, Maiden of the Month with tags , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by metalinkshop

Rydell is a super hot designer who recently submitted her work for the Design for Bambu challenge! We recently called her in Alberta, Canada (cell phone bill’s gonna look gruesome this month) and discussed her dual design and modeling careers! You won’t want to miss Rydell’s entry in the November Maiden of the Month contest!



MI: How did you find out about Metal Ink?

R: I know some of the other girls who were on the site—Glitch, Kraven, and I’ve seen Radeo’s pictures from the shoot she did for Maiden of the Month.

MI: Are you also a Suicide Girl?

R: Sure am!

MI: What do you like about Metal Ink?

R: I like that you can send in designs. A lot of girls who are on SG have jobs besides modeling.

MI: Do you work in graphic design or illustration? I ask because you submitted a design for the Design for Bambu challenge. You’re going to be the first Maiden to also be a Designer!

R: Well, I’m going to participate in the November contest, but yeah I can’t wait!

MI: Your design, “Bambu Eyes,” is beautiful. I really like it, especially the colors you used. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the idea?

Bambu Eyes by Rydell

Bambu Eyes by Rydell

R: I took Bambu’s profile picture off of SG which had a good close-up of her eyes. She has a lot of great tattoos but they’re spaced everywhere and it’s kinda hard to put on a t-shirt, unlike Radeo who has tattoos that are easier to put on a tee.

I traced over her eyes using Illustrator, gave her a little eye shadow. Photoshop is good but I don’t like it for making t-shirts. I used to work at a t-shirt company and I used to do screen printing and design, I did all the graphics and applied it. I found that for making t-shirts, Illustrator is easier to use.

MI: Bambu does have beautiful eyes. I love that you’re going for an ’80s look–it reminds me of that popular design with the eyes and red lipstick! Is that what inspired you?

R: No, actually, but someone else mentioned that. She called it the David Bowie eyes.

MI: Someone on SG? Did you talk about the design on your SG profile?

R: Yeah I have a link to the design.

MI: Cool, that’s the way to do it—get your friends to vote for your design. Can you tell us about your favorite tattoo, and the story behind it?

R: Probably my favorite is the most recent one I just got. I just finished one of my sleeves. It’s a sugar skull. All of my tattoos are symmetrical and mirrored, by the way.

MI: Is a sugar skull just a popular type of tattoo? I think Radeo has one too…

R: In Mexico, they have the Dia de los Muertos. A sugar skull is a candy skull that they make and decorate to celebrate loved ones that have passed away. It’s a representation for people that have passed away. They put daisies on the eyes or and something in the center forehead, like a rose or a diamond, and they make them for shrines.

MI: So it’s just one big sugar skull on your arm?

R: From the elbow down it’s sugar skulls and old school roses and filigree.

MI: Sounds awesome! Is that what you’ll show off in your photos for the November Maiden of the Month contest?

R: Yeah I don’t have pictures of it yet, but you’ll see them in November! BTW, I got it done by James Tex of Deadly Tattoos Inc. in Calgary.

sugar skull mamacita

sugar skull mamacita

Jimiyo Talks Shop with Metal Ink

Posted in Designer Interviews with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2009 by metalinkshop

Happy Munday! Actually, we are super excited this week…because it’s the end of the month!!! That means a new Maiden will be selected on Thursday, October 1st, and a new contest will start as well! If you haven’t already, hurry and rate the September Maidens before time’s up!

We interviewed Metal Ink member Jimiyo who recently won $1,000 for his design “Mother III.” Jimiyo is a seasoned designer and you won’t want to miss his tutorial blog full of Photoshop tricks and tips!

Check out Jimiyo’s shirt (which only costs $19!) and support our designers! If you’re interested in submitting a design, read our 5 Easy Steps to Participate!

Metal Ink design contest winner Jimiyo

Metal Ink design contest winner Jimiyo

MI: How did you find out about Metal Ink?

J: If I recall correctly, Quakerninja had a thread or t-shirt post at a popular apparel designer hangout I followed the links and entered the contest. BTW, you guys actually rejected my first design so I came back with a more refined and original design. I appreciate that you guys have a high standard. It’s easy when you are a starting a website to accept mediocre work just to start the product line.

MI: You’re a popular designer on lots of t-shirt design sites. What do you like about Metal Ink and how it compares to the others?

J: The site is well crafted, and the presentation is very clean and professional.

I like that your product line is niche even with the photography. When I visit Metal Ink, it’s not only for the art, it’s for the photography, so it’s almost as if your product line goes beyond just the shirt.

Personally, I was excited a site that caters specifically to the tattoo genre was created, because it is my preferred content to illustrate.

MI: Your design “Mother III” was one of the first printed designs. Congratulations! What was your inspiration behind it?

J: Thanks for the opportunity to get it printed. I don’t think it would have found support on any other site.

I enjoy creating Lady Guadalupe/Mother Mary/Day of the Dead imagery. I’ve been creating them for a couple years ever since I saw some tattoos of similar content online a few years ago.

The evocative broodiness of the portrait attracts me, and I also enjoy the background information on the symbolism of Mother Mary, and the representation of sacrifice and suffering that she represents.

Eternally Grateful 7

Eternally Grateful 7

Sullen Mother

Sullen Mother

MI: What advice would you give to a tattoo artist who’s crossing over into design and thinking of submitting work to Metal Ink’s design contests?

J: Create work on relatively large, quality, illustration board, and find a suitable person/service to scan it cleanly and in high resolution. Lots of natural media work can translate onto apparel fairly well if done correctly. You just can’t take a pencil/pen sketch on a 8 x 10 piece of paper and expect it to come out well.

Consider the shape of a t-shirt canvas. It’s very different than a body, poster, etc.

MI: Will you be participating in the Design for Bambu challenge?

I’ll have to check it out. I need something to give me the impetus to create new artwork, and that $1,000 booty is pretty nice.

MI: Awesome, hope to see your submission soon! We’ve also got a Horror themed Design Challenge coming up! Details will be posted here on the blog this Thursday…

J: The other day AT WORK I was like, “hrm, I will check out the Metal Ink blog.” So I saw the top banner, and I was like… “Dizang, artfully naked babe, Hell Yeah!”, and then I scrolled down, and I was like “Oh Snap..”

I closed the window, looked around to see if anyone at work saw me, cause you know…

You have bare T n A on your site. LOL. Very hot.

Ed Hardly 500

Ed Hardly 500