July 4, 2011
Hi Rose thanks heaps for your time today and sharing your thoughts with us. Everyone knows you work at Chapel Tattoo, how is it working there compared to Sacred Tattoo in Auckland?
Hi, no problem at all…I love working in both shops…
Chapel is a bit bigger than Sacred, with 9 full-timers and usually 1 or 2 guest artists at a time. A few years ago they took over the lease for the apartment above the shop so a few of us moved up there and they have been able to expand quite a lot.
As a city I generally just like Melbourne better than Auckland so have ended up here most of the time. I’m also a bit busier here in Melbourne so that kind of signs and seals it for me. I always go back to Sacred at least once a year, to catch up with everyone; I really do miss being in Auckland too.
Speaking of work, if given a chance, who would you like to work with?
Ummm, that’s a hard one. I guess if I look back at myself from when I started out, I have ended up working with, and have been helped out by quite a few people I have looked up to.
I love traveling and working with my friends, and am looking forward to going back to work at my friend Aaron’s (Hewitt) shop, Cult Classic in London (I haven’t been over for a couple of years now). Also my friend Nikole (Lowe) has recently opened her own studio Good Times Tattoo in London so it will be great to go and work with her.
In everyone’s career, there is that one person that we all look up to. Who was that person for you and why was he/she so inspirational to you?
Ha-ha I don’t want to toot anyone’s horn, but Dean Sacred (he knows he is the most famous anyway) works so hard and is such a good tattooist. He has helped me out a lot over the years. I would definitely have to say he has inspired me to push myself a bit harder.
We love hearing stories about how people get introduced into the world of tattooing? What’s your story?
Back in 2000 a friend of mine was getting a back piece done by Adam Craft. He knew that I really wanted to learn so he asked Adam if I could come and watch and possibly have a go. So I went up to (the original) Sacred Tattoo and amazingly Adam said yes and I ended up doing some shading. From there Adam started teaching me and then eventually opened his own shop (now called The Tattooed Heart) and gave me a job, which I am very grateful for. There weren’t a whole lot of good shops in Auckland to learn in back then.
My mum doesn’t like me getting tattoos and am involved with tattooing, How did your parents react when you told them you want to be a tattooer?
My parents didn’t mind at all – I have tattooed both of them. My Dad already had a few old tattoos on his forearms, one he did himself. I ended up covering that one with one of his own designs (he is an artist as well).
My Mum let me practice on her calf muscles (thank god they didn’t come out too badly!), and a few years later I did some blossoms up her forearm and a Spanish lady head on her bicep.
As a tattooer you get exposed to a lot of “interesting” clients. Who’s your most memorable client and why?
Hmm… I’ll keep it brief or this story might get a bit out of hand. Heres the PG rated version:
For some reason (probably because nobody else in the studio would do it and Daz the shop manager couldn’t stop laughing) I ended up tattooing a few words on this woman over the course of about 6 months – She was a prostitute and the tattoos were for her clients… I’ll spare you the placement of the tattoos too…
So the first one was -’Sting’s Slut’. The second was -’Anal Whore’. The third was – ‘Cum hungry’ the fourth was ‘Cockslut’… so yeah the list goes on, but in the end it was getting a bit much. At first it was kind of funny and then it got a bit out of control and I ended up refusing to do anymore on her.
You must be super busy at Chapel Tattoo with a 12 month waiting list for clients. What do you think it is about your tattooing style that attracts so much positive attention?
I’m not denying I can do a nice tattoo now and again but I honestly think it was/is to do with being at the right place at the right time and using social networking to my advantage…
I came to Melbourne in 2007 and started travelling for the next few years to London, New York, Sweden, and Denmark. So before I left New Zealand I started using MySpace a lot to promote my tattooing. I put up one painting in particular of a lady head with a snake and roses and had a load of requests for tattoos as a result…
At that time of my travels I think I would have got about 80% of my work through MySpace – this was before it was full of spam and wierdos, btw… I guess that just got the ball rolling, tattooing a lot of young people in Melbourne in my first few guest spots and their friends of friends getting tattooed… Now the amount of clients I get would be about 80% word of mouth…
If you could be famous for anything besides tattooing, what would it be?
Geez I don’t think I would want to be famous!
Who are some of the artists that have tattooed you? Whats your favorite piece on yourself?
My favorite piece would most probably be a chrysanthemum on my kneecap and snake on my shin/knee/thigh by William Yoneyama. I have a sleeve by Dean Sacred, a half sleeve by Adam Craft. There are loads of small things on my legs by Alison Manners, Aaron Hewitt, Andrew McLeod, Dave Mc Aleese, Chad Koeplinger, Mimsy Gleeson, Lee Knight, and Jonny Dollar. I have my palms done by Shane Gallagher, my fingers by Kate Knowles and behind my ear by Jane Laver…I think that is it!
Skateboarding is one of my outlets for relaxing… whats yours?
I hate to admit it but I’m addicted to watching television. It’s quite bad really… Every day I think, “Get rid of Foxtel!! Imagine how much painting you would get done if you didn’t watch TV every spare second of the day?” I just bought a mandolin which is so much fun to learn. I also love going to Bikram yoga… And most of all I like hanging out with and teaching tricks to Minty my Green Cheeked Conure.
Have you managed to find time to attend the recent New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival (NZ) or the Rites of Passage tattoo convention (Melbourne)? What do you enjoy most about attending tattoo conventions?
I missed the New Zealand one but plan on going to The Auckland Tattoo Convention in November. The best part about conventions is catching up with all your friends from other cities that you only see once or twice a year. Also you can win a lot of money on L R C or Silo!
Do you have any advice for the young’ns lookin’ to break into the tattoo industry?
I actually feel quite sorry for anyone who legitimately has some talent and respect for the industry and wants to learn. Unfortunately it feels like every second person that comes into the shop wants to start tattooing and has bought ‘a gun’ off the internet and is ‘just mucking around’ on themselves and their friends…
So as a result people like myself end up taking no notice of anyone who wants to learn, whether they come in off the street or email me with a million questions about how to get started… Its a shame because I don’t mind dishing out advice, but there is a new level of idiots calling them tattooists, who have no intention of learning properly or taking it seriously.
The best advice I could give anyone who is serious is to NOT buy shitty machines off the Internet and DON’T build a ‘portfolio’ of scratchy shit on your friends. Draw a lot and study other tattooist’s work (without straight up tracing or copying). If you can prove you can draw really well you have a way better chance of getting in somewhere. Also get tattooed a lot by good tattooists!
A meteorite has struck and destroyed the world! You’ve managed to survive. What are your first steps to rebuilding the world?
Holy crap I’m terrible at these kinds of questions! Sorry I’ve drawn a blank. That probably answers the question though… I don’t think I would survive for very long.. Especially if Man vs. Wild’s, Bear Grylls was there, Id probably put myself out of my misery..
Do you have a favorite YouTube video?
As a Fat Kid, I love a good slice of pizza or a classic cheese burger. Do you have a certain cuisine you enjoy and why?
At the moment I cant get enough of this place called Richmond Oyster Company right near where I live. It’s a fish market/restaurant and the fish is so fresh it’s amazing… The seafood platter is out of control.
Finally, is there anyone you would like to thank for where you are today and what you have achieved?
Thanks to anyone who has ever given me a job! And all the great customers I have who let me do what I want on them and don’t bust my balls…and pay my rent…
We really appreciate you taking the time to share your stories with us and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours Rose. Please do keep us posted with the latest. Cheers!
No problem! Thanks for asking me.
Words by Kyle Wakeham
Photography by The Dreaded Cat