tattoo interview with Cactus Jack by iva kancheska 16/01/2014

Hello Cactus Jack! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for readers. Let's start with some basic info, what got you into the world of tattooing?

I truly got into tattooing by accident, I was active duty Army and my close friend Brian Lynch and I got into it at around the same time in 2003. Apprenticing on the weekends and doing my military work during the week. I fell completely in love with it the moment I picked up a machine. Believe me, my first piece I ever did was terrible, but ill be dammed that I was bound and determined to try my hardest to improve.

Q: Where are you based now?
A: I currently live and work in Castle Rock Colorado, 20 minutes from Parker and Denver Colorado.

Q: You work on many tattoo styles, from floral and cartoon designs to black & gray portraits. Really cool, do you have any favorite style?
A: I really feel as if my stronger suit is floral for sure, here's this guy who does floral tattoos? I really love doing them the absolute most along with photo realism and more traditional work. Traditional for the simplicity but difficulty to last through the test of time.

Q: What type of designs are most wanted nowadays?
A: I get asked several times for my floral work for sure along with the bright, bold color work that take good amounts of saturation and stay solid in the long haul for the client. I am bummed a little about all of the lettering/pinterest craze that I see impressionable people bringing in the same designs over and over claim that they've wanted this tattoo their whole life and it has to look just like this! But ultimately I enjoy clients who know the style of work I do and give me a little artistic freedom with a piece.

Q: Tattooing is very creative work. How do you usually get inspired?
A: Often times I get a huge influence from seeing amazing artists take it to beyond the boundaries of ordinary and make tattooing extraordinary. For me, I often get huge inspirations from life and the world around me. Not to sound cliché' but just seeing a majestic sunset here in Colorado and all of the striking colors that I see, often times I try to define what colors they are from the pigments I use in tattooing or how to define true beauty as it would look on skin. I feel like I have grown exponentially in tattooing by being surrounded with great artists who strive to better themselves as well.

Q: Seems like all of your tattoo creations are custom made. Can you tell about the making process, how do you corporate the client's idea with your own?
A: When I consult with a client, I usually like to hear their side of what their likes are, favorite colors, what they may be into, or what the significance is behind their idea, it often times paints a solid picture for me as to how to build their design and how to integrate the artwork into their skin. I am a stickler for ensuring good flow with the body and placement, Id rather not limit myself in size versus losing detail or cutting part of the design short. A great deal of time I take to put into a making for a cool tattoo is the greater reward than sacrifice for the piece. A majority of my clientele are women, and placing something against a woman's curves are a huge pet peeve for me. Women in their own right are a thing of beauty, hell the human body is a thing of beauty, and to sacrifice placement versus something that flows well drives me bonkers!

Q: Is there any "dream" piece that is still undone, so far? hah
A: There are a few out there that I am currently working on that are undone still, but I have a good relationship with most of my clients and several pieces that make me push forward to completion. I currently have a great deal of cool pieces on deck for 2014 that's for sure! stay tuned!

Q: What would you say that gives you eternal hope when it comes to art progress?
A: Knowing how to be humble. Knowing how to be hungry and thirst for more, yet understanding to listen to advice and take the challenge to step outside the boundaries. Art is becoming so involved that you begin to live.

- What is your biggest challenge, working as an artist?
You know, client satisfaction and when we as artists leave for the day, people see these images of rock stars and parties and living this grandiose lifestyle, ha! I'm quite far from that. Vanilla I know, sorry! Often times I go home to my son, see him off to bed and sit and contemplate the day and what all I've done, and the perpetual cycle sometimes begins on where I'll sit there and analyze the tattoos I did that day, what could I have done better, what did I miss, what could I have done better. It's a constant challenge for me as I can sit for hours and sometimes beat myself up over perfectly done tattoos!

Q: You also do lots of cover up tattoos, what is your best advice when it comes to choosing the "right" design?
A: This is kind of the easiest question yet! haha, CHOOSE THE RIGHT ARTIST FOR THE JOB! Find someone experienced at cover-ups, they are not easy. Often times clients don't want to hear that their cool silver dollar size unicorn they got in college on their hip needs a design the size of softball or even bigger is needed to cover that tattoo. Not all tattoo artists can do cover-ups, and that is OK. But ask your artist do they have experience with cover-ups!

Q: Art could be a great influence on someone's personality. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: I have been told by a few clients of mine that I have a sixth sense of reading people and understanding that this is a permanent embellishment to their skin and how to make them feel comfortable when they get into the chair. To me that is remarkable. I learned early in my tattoo career that this is a dying art. Once your client leaves they will eventually die, and as we all know that includes the time and effort put specially in their lives with their artwork. It's a pretty deep feeling to know that once you tattoo someone they carry that with them till they die. Pretty heavy! I try to leave every single client of mine with a good feeling and a positive experience so that they can take from that and remember that small time that I had with that client. Several times i'm approached by clients who come to tell me how they remember something from talking to them for that short time. It's pretty cool to have that kind of influence!

Q: Do you have any advice for the aspiring artists?
A: Absolutely. WORK YOUR ASS OFF. Fight like hell to be the best, surround yourself with success and successful artists. The absolute most important thing I can say to a new artist, remember where you come from. This industry is not forgiving, it's not going to be handed to you. You must fight like hell to better yourself daily. Nothing in this industry will chew you up and spit you right out faster than being a dick to people either. Learn how to be a gentleman/lady to people for the love of god!!!

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Ryan "Cactus Jack"
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