tattoo | Art  interview with Steve  Foster | vienna, austria 20/09/2016

Hello Steve Foster! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our magazine.

Q: First tell us something about yourself, how did you got into tattooing?
A: Hi and thanx for your interest concerning my work! I got my first tattoo at the age of 17 and tattoos have been a part of my life ever since, but another 12 years passed before I got into doing tattoos myself. However I never felt ready for doing it, though my drawing skills were not too bad even as a child, but I always looked at it as a serious responsibility. One day at an appointment with my tattoo artist, who had become a close friend during the years, I did my first piece on my own calf - a little freehand skull - and it did't feel as strange as expected and the outcome was not so bad, the whole process felt pretty familiar. That night I got my first tattoo machine as a gift - an old customized Spaulding.

Q: How much time took you to learn the basic skills of tattooing?
A: When I started, I set myself a target - if I would not do a remarkable progress within half a year, I would quit! Three months later, I quit my job and started my own shop. I guess that having tattooers as friends has helped me a lot and also had me a basic knowledge even before I started, but as a beginner, let's say 5 years I was eating, breathing and sleeping tattoos. I spent my entire spare time on drawing, practicing and learning. I was really passionate even obsessed!

- Would you say the talent for drawing plays a big role in becoming a great tattoo artist?
I think it does, though I figured that there are quite a few decent tattooers who are not the greatest artists, but the ability of drawing extends your limits. You can learn the craft of tattooing, but the ability of drawing gives you the freedom to create whatever you want for your client requests. So talent is always an advantage in what we do!

Q: Do you have any favorite tattoo style?
A: In my opinion you should do the whole spread of styles, before you focus and specialize on a specific one. Know the basics, know the rules - then you can go on and find your own way. In my case it is realism & fantasy art that attracts me the most.

Q: Your big projects like back-pieces and sleeves impress me mostly because of their complex, detailed composition.
A: I usually try to keep the whole thing related - one limb, one story based on the input I get from the clients. I'm not sure if you can call it a style. A tattoo should be impressive from a close but also from a distant view, so I try to create my work according to that. The aim is always to pack the desires and ideas of the client in a nice piece in a way, that technically makes sense and interacts with the proportions of the body.

Q: I bet, clients expect only the best results from you, but how they react on long tattoo sessions? :)
A: It differs, I always do one customer one day, no pressure, no limit. That way I can focus on one person, one design. I always try do give it all and do my best & that's what I expect from my clients too. I know how it hurts as I have gone through that myself! People can take quit a lot, if they really want something. Though tattoos got a nice acceptance in society, they are not meant for everyone. A beautiful tattoo comes along with strains and pain - you have to be aware of that! On the other hand, dealing with a lot of different people you learn to be sensitive how far you can take it and where to stop. Also you get a feeling what kind of behavior is individually helpful for the client to cope with the situation. Most important is, that the connection is good that way both sides will get over it!;)

Q: Clients nowadays are coming with many interesting ideas for a tattoo. Do you collaborate with your clients before the session?
A: Of course, It's the basic of every new project! I try to get as much input from my clients as possible to get the idea they want me to execute on their skin and avoid conclusions before I work on their design. I take pictures of the body part they want to have tattooed. When all is said and done I start the creative process - alone, in silence, well actually with metal music blasting out the ear plugs, but I guess you know what I mean!;) When it's done I present it to the client and if he likes it he's in the pool for the upcoming appointment-day.

Q: You also travel a lot. Tattoo conventions can bring a whole new perspective of tattooing today. Do you have any favorite memory from a tattoo convention?
A: Well I don't travel that much, my cooperation with cheyenne and quantum got me doing more conventions again and I do guest spots every now and then as a kind of a service for my foreign customers and to visit friends in their studios. Doing mainly big concept pieces that require quite some time and effort I rather focus on my „hood“ to supply with nice pieces! Every region of the world has some great tattooers to turn to, the world does not necessarily need me to spread my ink everywhere! So when I do conventions it's more about the interchange & meeting friends inside the tattoo family and so I have nice memories from every single convention I attended. But if I have to pick one it might be my first „best of day“ win @ the Vienna tattoo convention 2006, after only 3 years of tattooing. Even if I do not overrate contests it was a very nice approval for me, that I might be doing right.

Q: Where are you located now?
A: we are located @ the penetration incorporation collective in 1040 Vienna, grosse neugasse 8/64

- What is the procedure of getting an appointment?
I run a collective with up to 9 artists with my wife Kinga. She is taking care of the first consultations for new clients, where they get all the necessary information and can depose the details of their desired project. According to that they will be suggested an artist, who is most likely the best choice for what they want to get done. I'm making concrete appointments twice a year for people I'm currently working on or people I've at least talked to already about their projects and created a design. Once I finish a project I open up new spot for new clients.

Q: Your plans for the near feature?
A: In the last year I've done Las Vegas, Moscow and Berlin convention. I think it would be nice to do London together with my mates from the studio, but as we know, it's not easy to get a booth there ;)

Q: As an accomplished tattoo artist, what would you recommend to the new artists?
A: Love what you do and be grateful every day for the gift you have been given! Work hard and always do your best! Be attentive and open-minded - you can learn at least something from everyone! Never consider yourself to be accomplished! Do it for your clients and yourself, not for the fame! If you wanna be a rockstar go get yourself a band - if you do it for the money, go to business school and become a broker! Cherish the spirit of tattooing and be real.