tattoo | art | interview with Paul Talbot | Modern Electric Tattoo UK
Hello Paul Talbot! Thanks so
much for taking the time to respond on our questions for our
magazine. It's a great pleasure to share some of my thoughts with
Q: Since when the fascination for tattoo art first began?
A: In the UK in the 80’s a lot of children’s sweets and comic books seemed to come with free stick on tattoos. I think that must have been the beginning of my fascination with tattoos. That and Paul Stanley, I was obsessed with Kiss as a kid, Paul Stanley was my hero and he has a small tattoo of a rose on his arm.
Q: What made you to become a tattoo artist?
A: I'm from a small market town in the midlands (uk) so my introduction to tattooing was a small street shop near where I grew up. It was pretty typical of the time; run by bikers, dog eared sheets of A4 flash all over the walls and that unmistakable smell of Dettol hanging in the air amongst the stale cigarette smoke!
My best mate was getting a tattoo there and had asked me to go along with him because he wanted a design from an album cover and had got me to draw it. I'd always been known as 'the kid that could could draw' amongst my friends - I was the one that painted everyone's leather jackets, motorbike helmets and so on. So creating a line drawing was pretty straightforward.
Anyway, when we presented this (not very clean) line drawing conversation turned to 'who did this?' and the answer (me) led to me drawing a few designs for the guy (horrible things that looked like bad heavy metal band album covers!) in return for him showing me the basics of tattooing.
- How long have you been tattooing?
On and off since I was about 17, honestly, it was more off than on until about 7 years ago. So 7 years would be a more accurate number.
Q: Your style is really unique. I love
the fact that you're able to put some unusual note in every design,
especially when it comes to tattoo backgrounds. That makes the whole
tattoo really special. Tell me more about the creative process. How
do you usually develop your basic ideas to the final one? Do you
first draw a lot, do you use a sketchbook?
A: Yes, I draw quite a bit - Copic markers are favorite but I tend to only draw to relax and keep ‘loose’ My artwork is - almost - entirely digital collage so it’s important to keep my ‘chops’ sharp by drawing.
A basic idea will start with a concept, single word or phrase from the client. From this I decide the best way to visually communicate the content and begin searching for the images and textures that I will collage together to create the final ‘visual’. Sometimes I start with a very clear idea of shape and content but sometimes I allow myself to be led visually selecting based on only what catches my eye. This approach is similar to free writing in that I just allow myself to go wherever in order to find something to ‘hook to’ then I tighten the piece up and focus on answering the brief. I find that if I’m suffering from creative block this helps me to overcome it and, when you have to produce over 200 unique pieces a year, it’s quite easy to feel a little ‘stale’ at times. This approach helps with that too as you choose visual elements based on what your attracted to instead of pre decided notions of what will or won’t work.
Q: I guess your clients expect a 100% custom piece by you... Since the tattoo culture is more popular and we can see lots of new styles nowadays... I guess even clients can bring up some cool ideas. Are you always supportive to your client's idea, or there are some negotiations in a while?
A: If I turn down a clients idea I will always explain why and ask them if they have an alternative idea that we could develop. Usually this approach turns out my favorite pieces as it’s easier to create something for someone once you’ve had a couple of conversations with them.
Q: I know some clients could be very funny in a way, they just want a cool tattoo done, but they haven't a specific idea... Seeing your amazing portfolio...Have you ever had any customers, not knowing what they want and just wait for your suggestion? Have you ever choose someone's tattoo design? haha
A: All the time! A lot of clients love me work but have no idea how to ask me to create something unique for them. Fortunately I have a stock of pieces that I have created that I can show them and they can just choose one. Once its theirs I never tattoo the piece again so its a one-off just like all my others.
Q: Where are you located now? Please share some basic info about the shop you're working.
A: My studio is called: The Modern Electric Tattoo Company and it’s based in my hometown of Catshill, near Bromsgrove in the county of Worcestershire in the UK. You can find all the info at www.modernelectrictattoo.co.uk
My portfolio site can be found at: www.paultlbt.com
I have a Facebook page www.facebook.com/paultlbt
I have both instagram and twitter just search @paultlbt
And the easiest way to get in touch with me is by contacting my assistant (and wife) Karen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Artists in general, are constantly trying to progress even more, what's your challenge in this job? Is there any other tattoo style you want to try out and learn the best, or just develop on your own way?
A: I just really want concentrate on developing the graphic style. I think it has a lot to offer the world of tattooing and hope - one day - to see it accepted in the same was that black and grey or realism now are.
Q: Would you say tattooing could be an expressive job? How much a custom piece gives a special credit to the artist?
A: For sure! Quite a few of my tattoos include my sense of humor or socio-political views but only if the client agrees! I think this is inevitable when you create art as we cannot help being (and creating) a product of our surroundings, culture and influences.
Q: Nowadays, tattoos are not a taboo, but somehow there are some misconceptions about getting tattooed. What are some of the things that people should know before getting a tattoo? What we should be aware of?
A: Do your research and find the right artist for the job. Be prepared to wait, travel and spend some money in order to get great art. You only get it once so get it right. Once your at the studio please remember that this is ‘our house’ and we make the rules - what’s ok in one studio may not be ok in another so check in advance.
Oh, and just be cool! ;)
Q: Having a busy schedule and working every day with so many people, could be hard at times, what keeps you motivated?
A: Art. That and the idea that one day, if I’m very lucky and try really hard I might just make the perfect tattoo. Maybe…
Q: Do you have any special plans for the near feature? Like a career achievement?
A: I’ve spent the last few years working in the UK and Europe so in the future I’m hoping to visit some other countries further away. I would love to visit Australia!
Q: Any final words for the beginners?
A: Never, ever give up. ‘The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours’.