Interview with Tim Orth | Mystic Owl Tattoo Studio, GA 11/05 /2012  

Q: When the fascination in art first began? Did you envision yourself working as an artist when you grew up?
A: For as long as I can remember I have been interested in art, rather anything where I could be creative. I started drawing seriously around 5 or 6 years old. When my parents realized my interest and saw promise in my ability, they put me in private art lessons. I had some sort of art training from that point until I dropped out of college. Ironically I don't think that the thought of me being an artist by profession ever crossed my mind. Not until it had already happened.

Q: When did you start doing tattoos?
A: Professionally or unprofessionally? HA! Unprofessionally when I was about 12 or 13 I think. I did a little hand poked tattoo on my leg to see what it was like. After that it was a little while before I tattooed again. I think I was 16. And again, I tattooed myself. I finally tattooed someone else when I was 18. I was working out of my apartment (hardly)when opportunity presented itself and I started my apprenticeship at what was Omni Tattoo then, now named Leviticus.

Q: What kind of art interested you at the beginning?
A: I was interested in all kinds of art. A lot of the same art I am interested in now, just with a different hopefully more educated approach and understanding. I was into a broad spectrum of art, 2d, 3d, media, installation... anything that I found interesting or profound.

Q: Some people say that it is possible to be self though artist. What are your thoughts about this?
A: Absolutely. I believe that you can be self taught with anything. You may progress faster with structured learning, but structured learning can be overcome by awareness, comprehension and raw talent.


Q: Artists are constantly making some changes in their style, technically and artistically. How has your work developed over the years?
A: I feel like that is a question that would almost be better answered from an onlooker. I honestly don't pay attention. I do what I feel. I mean I acknowledge technical advancements that I make, but beyond that I just try to illustrate with accuracy and appeal to the audience, which is usually dictated to me by my client. Lately however, I have been actively seeking out individuals who are interested in an audience besides themselves. To wear art that can impact the masses rather than the individual. I have been fortunate to find many people who were willing to shed their egos and be part of something that hopes to reach further and reach the hearts and minds of many.

Q: What is your favorite type of work?
A: My favorite pieces to work on are ones where I feel I can do the piece justice. I turn a lot of work away because I know
artists who I feel would be more capable that I would be in creating a better final product. And I sincerely want people to get the best work that they can. If I don't feel like I am the guy, I send them to who is (in my professional opinion, anyway).


Q: Can you tell me about the making process, do you collaborate with your clients on ideas?
A: Hmmm. I don't really know how to answer that. I mean it is usually unique for each person. Some people are very rigid with their ideas and I have very little input into the piece. Other times they give me free reign. And then there is everything in between. I do the best that I can to satisfy the needs of my client. After that, I do the best I can to satisfy my own criticisms.

Q: You are now working at the Mystic Owl Tattoo Studio in GA. Can you tell me more about the shop?
A: I am happy to be working at Mystic Owl. It is a very laid back shop, super comfortable. Its a nice, chill spot where you have creative freedom. Vince and Jace make it feel like home and I am fortunate to be working with them.

Q: Working with artists like Jace Masula and Vince Villalvazo, must be a great journey...
A: I am a pretty introverted guy. I keep to myself most of the time, but I am always watching and learning. I am very fortunate to have this set of windows to look through.

Q: What are the most interesting experiences with the customers?
A: Hearing their stories, their experiences, their views and seeing how they react to ones different than their own.

Q: Any strange requests? Is there any red line when it comes to tattoos?
A: Strange requests are the ones that come out of left field. People asking you to tackle technical styles that you have little to
no experience with. Those are the strangest to me. There are very prominent names in the tattoo business who excel at specific styles. I'm not saying that artists shouldn't test their boundaries, not in the least. But why would you go to a guy who advertizes nothing but black and gray realism and ask him to do abstract color? Just seems weird to me. But, I guess I am a weird guy.


Q: What would your "dream piece" to work on if someone completely let you choose the design?
A: I want to do some very large pieces that deal with the destruction of capitalism, reform of the democratic system, environmental awareness and activism, insight in to the true responsibilities of humanity and its coexistence with planetary species, and progressive ideas for sustainable systems that can replace all of the fucked up, mindless bullshit that we do now. And more naked women. :)


Q: After all those years working as an artist, is there anything you would like to change?
A: Absolutely! I am experimenting with aquaponic systems right now. Aquaponics is similar to hydroponics but you are raising fish in the reservoir of water that feeds your plants. You feed the fish, the fish feed the plants, the plants clean the water. It is a very harmonious system. I have been experimenting with different methods of accomplishing this task and collecting data about productivity. My next goal will be to start making the whole thing beautiful. It couldn't get much better really, your own personal oasis that not only soothes your soul, but is also your food source. I am aiming to build systems productive enough to sustain their owners/operators. So, I guess you could say I am trying to be a farmer.

Q: In a few words, what are the most important things that every single artist should know in order to become successful and respected?
A: Be passionate, persistent and absurdly self-critical. If you're lucky, you might be famous when you're dead.
Or... you can just enjoy this, now.

Please feel free to share your feature plans about your work and your work info.
I am currently working at studios all over the United States. I regularly travel between CA, FL, MN, WI and GA. I spend most of my total work hours at a studio nestled in the redwood forests of northern California named Physically Graffiti. It is magical up there, that is where I am most inspired. If you are interested in doing more interviews I would be happy direct you to them. Great people at every one.

Thank you again for this opportunity.
-Tim Orth
Axis Irons,