interview with Jerry Pipkins | panama city |  florida 16/09/2014 

Q: How old were you when you first got interested in art? What kind of art inspired you the most?
A: That goes all the way back to the days of kindergarten. I was 5 or 6 years old. How I remember it, for some reason randomly started drawing with crayons and drew an police car with a nurse in it driving to a hospital and I drew a dear with a full set of antlers. Not having any clue where I saw these images, I drew them from memory. I have been intrigued with putting images I imagine onto canvas, whether it be paper or skin, I love it. That moment has been stuck in my mind since.

- Do you have any role models?
When I first discovered a tattoo magazine, I found tattoos in it done by Nikko Hrtado and ever since, his art and tattoo work has forever influenced me and who I am. Besides Nikko I also look up to Rich Pineda, Chris 51, Joshua Carlton, Joshua South, Carlox Argarita and Jeff Gogue whom are all fantastic artists and they are all a part of who I am today.

Q: Do you remember your first tattoo? If so, what was it? Tell us more about the first tattoo session.
A: My first creation I am not proud of but yet again I am. It is on myself, on my chest and was done upside down in my home back in 1995. I knew nothing of what I was doing and was determined to do a tattoo some how some way. I know now that some of the processes I have taken to be a tattooer were not of the best choice, but I was UN-educated and wish I would have had better opportunities to do things the right ways all those years ago. Then again, those processes I have endured has made me who I am today, big catch 22 isn't it?

Q: Being a tattoo artist, requires patience, talent and hard work. How much time took you to learn the process?
A: I tattooed on and off again for about 10 to 12 years only tattooing very simple and not very good tattoos, if you can call them that at all. About 6 to 8 years ago, my interest in tattooing grew quite stronger and I found myself buying supplies and equipment and studying the craft. It was a quick short year later I went full blown tattoo artist and now here I am about 8 years after that. All in all, I have only been tattooing as a professional about 8 years, but on and off for about 20.

- What was actually the hardest part in getting into the business?
The resistance from the public. All though tattoos are more widely accepted these days, I started out in a small Bible town and met resistance from the public there. As the typical view, I was viewed as a drug dealer, or thug whom isn't worth even acknowledging my existence. I eventually left town to a busier more receptive city and grew into the life of a tattoo artist deeper and more accepted.

Q: Do you have any favorite tattoo style?
A: I really love and dig Neo-traditional but have a difficult time with it, I just happened to be decent at realism and portraits so I stuck to what I was good at. Lately I am finding myself in my own style that involves realism and am really enjoying this path I have taken.


- Would you say an artist should be know for a certain style, or the artist should be good at all?
I think a artist should be happy with what he does, and create art. If 50 people hate it and 50 people love it, then the job is done right because you cant make everyone like any specific style of art. I think a good artist should be technically sound and understand the different styles but follow his heart in what he or she wants to do. No matter what we do as tattooers, we will never master it all, but never stop trying to be as good as we can be at what we enjoy doing. Never stop, never give up.

Q: I love your ability for creating custom detailed pieces, especially when it comes to realistic tattoos. It's really eye-catching. Do you always work by certain photo reference or you also follow your current inspiration?
A: Both, I use reference and my imagination in combination. I need the photo reference to make sure all the proportions, shadows and highlights are correct but use my imagination to make it a unique custom piece.

Q: What details are the most complicated when it comes to portrait tattoos?
A: I find the hair of a person to be the most difficult, in some cases, the hair can take longer to do than the rest of the tattoo.


- Is there any person you want to put on someone's skin? If so, who and why? hah
I would love to tattoo any of the 70's & 80's movie characters I grew up with, The Goonies, Stand By Me, Star Wars, Star Trek etc etc. I find that point in time to be compelling and hit home in emotions of all the people in my age range as well as me.

Q: How much time it takes to get an appointment? How do you plan your schedule?
A: I am currently booked out almost a year. It is a blessing but also a curse, I now have to plan my family time and vacations a year out just so it is there. But knowing I am booked up like this also reassures I am financially stable to support my family comfortably without fear. Currently, I am doing a lot of full sleeves legs and arms and full backs and I have to plan out an estimated number of sittings for each of those individuals in advanced so there is no interruption in the process for that client.

Q: Something that you've learned from your customers while doing tattoos?
A: Everyday is a different adventure, my clients are as diverse in their lives as I this industry is in artists, and everyday the stories make a mark on me. Some more than others, some heartbreaking and others full of hate, some stories will even make a grown man cry, and then others fill me with sorrow. If one thing is for sure, the different stories and lives our clients live are vast and full of adventure and trials.

Q: Any plans for improvement?
A: I'm always trying to expand my knowledge and be creative on levels I never could have imagined. As a artist I am constantly growing everyday and I look forward to what I learn on a day to day basis, we are shaped by art in every form and my art is forever shaping me.

Q: What's the greatest challenge of being a tattoo artist?
A: The greatest challenge for me is balancing my career and family. Being an career tattooer takes a tremendous amount of time of ones life and is a constant burden on the relationships with the family and loved ones at home.

Q: Any advice for the new artists?
A: My best advice is never give in, never give up; constantly grow, learn, and expand your knowledge of not just tattooing, but every form of art possible.

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IV Horsemen Tattoo Parlor
Panama City Florida
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