Archive for Paul Booth

Rotary Motor + Guitar String + Baby Oil = Tattoo Gun

Posted in Designer Interviews, Tattoo Artist Interviews, Tattoo shops in New York with tags , , , , on January 27, 2010 by metalinkshop

Only 4 days left to rate our luscious January Maidens! Rate their photo sets and decide who will win $700 cash, $300 store credit, professional photo shoots, the title of January Maiden of the Month, and of course, bragging rights!


Tattoo Heaven
98 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 645-1893

 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!

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!

From Hieronymus Bosch to Mike Davis, Fantastic Imagery in Art & Tattoos

Posted in Tattoo shops in San Francisco with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2009 by metalinkshop

Happy Friday! Today we’re talking to Mike Davis, tattoo artist, painter, and owner of Everlasting Tattoo in San Francisco. Mike has been tattooing at Everlasting since ’92, and in the 17 years he’s been here, he’s seen a lot of change in the neighborhood and the tattoo scene, so we’re glad for the opportunity to pick his brain!

Btw, Metal Ink’s 20% off sale is going on through 11/30. Get t-shirts for only $13-$15 with code “Shop20” at checkout. Also don’t miss our new styles and designs, like the Toil & Tears Tank Dress!

Everlasting Tattoo
813 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 928-6244

Mike Davis, tattoo artist & painter

MI: Love the artwork you have in here. Can you tell us about the paintings?

Mike: Well, I did them. I paint as well as tattoo. I have gallery shows and it’s sort of like my second job.

MI: Your paintings look very Hieronymus Bosch, maybe a little Dalí, and kind of like those still lifes that Dutch painters used to do…

Mike: I’m very influenced by Dutch and Flemish painters.

MI: You’re incredibly talented! Do you have any upcoming shows?

Mike: I have one, Mondo Bizzarro, in Rome coming up in April. Other than that probably the next show will be in New York.

MI: So what came first, painting or tattooing?

Mike: Well I have always done art since I can remember. I was doing stage sets for film and theater before I was tattooing. I started tattooing out of my house as a hobby but seriously painting has been about ten years.

MI: Do your ideas for your paintings come more from your dreams or influential painters?

Mike: The ideas are sort of based on life experiences and interpreted in my own way through symbolism and imagery.

MI: Do people seek you out for your work as a painter and request these symbols as tattoos?

Mike: Sometimes but usually not. Once in a while people will have me put some of that type of element into their tattoos but it doesn’t happen often.

MI: How would you describe your style as a tattoo artist?

Mike: I’ll do whatever people want. To me it’s commercial art. I mean, that’s my job. If you’re talking about artistic integrity, that’s what my paintings are for.

MI: You said you started tattooing out of your house. Assuming that means you didn’t do an apprenticeship, did you also not go to art school? Are you also a self-taught painter?

Mike: That’s right.

MI: That’s so amazing, your innate talent expressing itself. Let’s talk about how tattooing has changed in the 17 years you’ve been here.

Mike: I don’t think it’s changed really. The area has changed, from being a ghetto to what it is today, gentrified NOPA. In terms of the clients, I tattoo more people, but I think the type of people who get tattooed and what things they get tattooed on them hasn’t changed. It’s generally the best place for tattooing in the country.

MI: How is it different from, for example, New York or LA?

Mike: We get to do more fun stuff here. You get to be more creative with the type of imagery that we do here. On the East coast, people tend to be more conservative with imagery, a lot of religious stuff and not too much crazy stuff.

Jesus as a Cajun chef

MI: Right, you do see more of that here. A few weeks ago, we spoke to a tattooer on Haight named Barnaby who had just done a Grateful Dead bear carrying a Wu-Tang flag on a skater kid. But what about someone like Paul Booth in New York? His stuff is pretty crazy.

Mike: I’ve known him for almost 17 years. His work isn’t crazy, it’s dark.

MI: So is his artwork—he has paintings in his shop too! Is that how you got to know him? Through the art scene?

Mike: I know him through tattooing.

MI: Who else paints and tattoos?

Mike: There’s Henry Lewis at Skull and Sword. He’s a good friend of mine. Everybody does a little bit of something. But as far as being in a gallery where it’s totally disconnected from tattooing, not very many.

MI: Who are your buyers, typically?

Mike: Well they’re people a lot of times from a different city or country. They just look at it online. They are art collectors.

MI: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? Tattooing or painting full-time?

Mike: I don’t know.

MI: Well, whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll continue to gain lots of fans. Great stuff. Thanks so much, and I hope you participate in our design contest! Our members would love to wear a design made by you!

“Chino” Tattoos Big Tex in Cali

Posted in Tattoo shops in San Francisco with tags , , , on September 7, 2009 by metalinkshop

Announcing Metal Ink’s first special contest: Design for July Maiden Bambu! Check out her set on our Gallery, get inspired, and submit your art on! The winner will win $700 in cash, $300 in store credit, residuals from t-shirt sales, plus entry in our design of the year contests!

Cold Steel
1783 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 933-7233

Rian & peacock eyes

Rian & peacock eyes

Rian Renteria
Tattoo Artist

MI: Where did you get your name?

Rian: I dunno, my parents. That’s just the way they did it.

MI: It smells really good out here on your back patio.

Rian: Yeah, it’s coming from Escape from New York.

MI: Oh right, ‘cause it’s basically next door. Their pesto potato pizza is so good! Making me hungry. Anyway, how long have you been working here and how long have you been tattooing?

Rian: 4 years and 7 years.

MI: I asked Rob this question, want to know your opinion too. What do you think of tattooing in SF?

Rian: Bad ass. There’s a lot of really fucking good artists here. It’s like a Mecca for artists. Lots of inspiration. But I won’t call it competition actually, just a lot of good influences. And it’s not just tattoo artists. Graffiti artists too. Like Grime—his tattoos are cool, and he’s part of this graffiti crew, AWR, that’s pretty sick. He’s an amazing artist.

MI: Agree, the urban or street art here is great.

Rian: San Francisco is a great place. I didn’t intend to stay here for this long, but I like it. It’s nice and compact.

MI: Where did you come from?

Rian: Dallas.

MI: Did you work there and does everyone ask for a tattoo in the shape of the state of Texas down there?

Rian: *Laughs.* Yeah I’ve done that probably more times than I should have. That and the Dallas Cowboys star. Coincidentally, I happened to tattoo someone from Dallas yesterday. I tattooed Big Tex!

MI: Who’s that?

Rian: You know, he’s got a cowboy hat and a western shirt on and he’s wearing red, white and blue.

MI: Did it bring back memories?

Rian: Yeah it was bizarre doing it here, but it’s cool. Everyone gets their own shit.

MI: Did you start tattooing in Dallas? You grew up there, right?

Rian: Yeah. I hand-poked a tattoo on myself when I was 15. I got fascinated with it.

MI: What was your first tattoo?

Rian: It was my nickname on my arm which made no sense at all.

MI: What do you mean?

Rian: Well I’m Japanese, and my nickname was “Chino.” But that was my name, hanging out with the homies. I started learning how to tattoo early on, it became a hobby. And I got some tattoo machines not long after. I had a friend who was getting tattooed in a shop in Fort Worth. I went with him and my girlfriend at the time. She had a lot of tattoos done by me. I guess the artist liked them—he asked her who did it, and she pointed at me. He told me he was opening up a shop in a year and asked me to work for him. He stuck to his word. I helped him open up the shop and I started working with him. And working in a shop you learn more than when you’re fucking around with your homies. *Laughs.* So yeah, that’s how I got started. By a fluke.

MI: We’re now in your workspace, and I see you have acupuncture charts on your wall. What’s that for?

Rian's acupuncture charts

Rian's acupuncture charts

Rian: I just thought it was cool. And I like to use it to show clients exactly where work will be done, especially on the back.

MI: How would you describe your style?

Rian: I like to stay versatile. I don’t like saying I have a specific style, but it just tends to gather in your book. It tends to be more Asian theme. I started doing more black and gray. I try to do all of my work equally well and you have to be good at all types.

MI: Who are your influences?

Rian: There’s a lot…for Japanese style, Shige. Hands down he’s the best. He’s in Yokohama, Japan. He’s pretty much blown up by now. Also Paul Booth, he’s a sick ass black and gray artist.

MI: Awesome! We got the green light for an interview with him! We’re talking to Paul Booth the next time we’re in New York, probably in the fall.

Rian: That’s cool, so it’ll be on the Metal Ink blog?

MI: Yup, Metal Ink Crew Musings. Check back in a couple months!

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8