What attracted you to tattooing?
16 years ago a girl gave me a book called New York City Tattoo by Mike McCabe. It's a collection of interviews with the main players in New York's tattoo scene in the 1960s and 70s. Reading that book is what made up my mind. I just wanted to be like those guys.
How did you get into the industry? Was it hard to find an apprenticeship?
Yeah it was really hard back then. there were only a hand full of shops in Auckland, most were owner operated and were only interested in hiring one or two other guys, if any. As everyone always says it was a very secretive industry too. There was no Internet, so really the only way to learn was from somebody who knew. So I went to Melbourne, Victoria where I knew somebody who had an apprenticeship. She introduced me to John Entwistle and he sold me my first machine (which I still have) and a copy of Huck Spaulding's book "A-Z Of Tattooing". After scratching for a year I got into trouble with some guys who didn't like scratchers, and a local shop took pity on me and gave me a job.
How long have you been tattooing?
I've been tattooing professionally for 13 years.
What inspires you?
Memories from my childhood, the way I remember the inner city neighborhood where I grew up, the shit I would draw as a kid, the bikers that lived on my street, the red light district in the next suburb over. But above all the tattoos I saw as a kid and the emotional response I had to them.
Who are your favourite tattoo artists?
My favourite tattooers are all the members of the Two Hands Tattoo family, they provide me with endless support and inspiration. Internationally some of my favourites include Kane Trubenbacher, Matt McCormick, Tamara Santibanez, Sean from Texas, Mina Aoki, Ruby Quilter, Tooth Taker, Joshua Marks, Bert Krak, everybody at East River, and too many others to list. There's a ridiculous amount of talent out there.
How would you describe your tattoo style?
Fine line, painless biker tatz!
What have you learned from the industry?
I'd probably still be on the dole.
What advice do you have to people considering careers in tattooing?
You better be good because it's saturated out here and ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE.
What are some of the best things you have experienced as a result of your career?
Travel is the obvious one. I honestly don't know of any other trade that would be better to travel with. Not a single one. But the most important experience for me has got to be the creative process and sense of purpose. 13 years on and I actually love this job more than I have at any point in the past.
Where do you currently tattoo?
I currently tattoo at the studio I opened 10 years ago, Two Hands Tattoo, but I'll be living on the road throughout the U.S from April to December 2016.