Interview with Travis Broyles | tattoo art life & music  29/11/2012  

Hello Mr.Broyles! It's a great honor to talk with you! Creative, innovative, passionate, dedicated and really talented artist, these are just a few words to describe you!  Apart from the tattoo art, you are one of the founders of the record label "Robot Monster, Inc " and you've been working as web and graphic designer. Influenced by horror art and the alternative music, I bet your art journey has many great stories, but let's start with the basics...

Q: What made you to become an artist? Was that like a dream profession or it just came spontaneously?
A: I have always been into art. As a kid, I always seemed to be drawing on placemats at restaurants, and enjoying the arts more than the other classes. It wasn't until high school that I really started to devote a lot of time and energy into art. At that point, making art would have been a dream profession. I was already doing a lot of graphic and web design for large companies and musicians and I was able to showcase it in those ways. I actually started tattooing while I was in high school, so a lot of the other media was pushed back to focus on tattooing. It wasn't actually until recently that I got back into painting.

Q: What was the first art addiction, graphic design, drawing, tattooing? How did you get into? Give me a little description.
A: Definitely drawing. I always found myself drawing, and blocking out the world. I'm sure I was one of those kids who got in trouble for drawing on the walls haha! At the time my brother use to draw a lot, and I always looked up to him - and wanted to be an artist like him. Later down the road, I started teaching myself how to use photoshop, and programming. Keep in mind I started doing this between the ages of 8 and 12. Around the age of 14, I started doing a lot of web, graphic, and merchandise designs for a lot of very large companies and bands. I was able to showcase my artwork on cd layouts, t-shirts, and etc. By the age of 16 I was working for a record label and working with Blasko (current bassist for Ozzy Osbourne, ex bassist for Rob Zombie, Danzig, Prong, Cryptic Slaughter, and etc.) Blasko really opened my eyes and gave me a lot of opportunities to do design work for him, and other bands/musicians. By the age of 17 I really got into tattoo art, and began my apprenticeship that year.

Q: What kind of art interested you at the time? Do you have any influences, role models that have helped you in developing your own art style?
A: Early on I was really into cartoons. I have always been a fan of cartoons, and that illustrative style - so that seemed to show through a lot. As I get older, I think my style develops more, and becomes less cartoony. I am still very passionate about it and love that imagery, but I am trying to expand myself, and my abilities as an artist.

Q: It seems like your passionate in doing American Traditional, Neo-traditional, Illustrative, Cartoony, Realism, as well as Black and Grey tattoo designs. Do you remember when the impression for this kind of work first began?
A: It has developed over the years into this. When I first started tattooing, I mainly focused on cartoony imagery, and traditional tattooing. I think a lot of the traditional end came from my apprenticeship. The guy that taught me how to tattoo, really pushed for me to do American and Japanese traditional imagery, and I was definitely into it - so I think that is where a lot of that came from. Over the years I have become more technical with my drawings, and I think it was spilled out into my tattoo work - while pulling inspiration from almost anything.

Q:  Do you consider this type of work as your specialty, something that people can expect from you?
A: Definitely! I am an artist, so I will always evolve and do new things, but I do not think I will stray too far from how it sits currently. I have been touching on realism lately, and I really like doing that - but I really like being able to draw everything my way, and with realism being so specific on objects, it is limiting at times.

Q: Nowadays, there are lots of people coming with some crazy ideas for a tattoo? Are you always supportive to your client's idea or there are some designs you simply don't want to tattoo?
A: Absolutely. I try to work with every client to obtain the perfect tattoo for them, but some things just will not work out. My name goes behind every tattoo that I do, and that is always a reminder when drawing out a tattoo. I also do not want to be that guy, that 5 years down the road - my client can't get a job or really hates the tattoo that I did on them, simply because it was an outlandish idea they had from simply being young. I am usually pretty good about nailing what each customer wants, and enjoy working with them during the design stages.

Q: What are the most interesting experiences with the customers? What reaction from a client makes you happy after finishing the tattoo?
A: I have never had a customer say they hate something I have done on them (knock on wood) and that is good enough for me hahaha! Really though - I am lucky enough to have the customers that I do, and am lucky enough for them to wait for me when my schedule is hectic. That itself shows leaps and bounds to me. Without them, I'd be nothing!


Q: Tell me about the making process. Do you use sketchbook?
A: I usually start by taking a tracing of the area that they are looking to get tattooed if I need to. If the area is open, then I just begin drawing. I try to find an overwhelming amount of reference for what they are looking to have tattooed. I usually rely on books rather than internet. I pick the references that suit best, and begin drawing. I usually sketch on plain printer paper, with various colors of pencils. Once I have a few decent sketches down, I will import the sketches into Photoshop, and then tweak it all in Photoshop - sometimes using a Wacom tablet. From there I can add certain things, take away certain things - make objects bigger, smaller etc. It helps to cut back on a lot of time wasted in redrawing for me - and I am definitely a computer geek. Once I have a final sketch, I make a final line drawing on paper, vellum, or tracing paper with prisma pens. For a lot of the more realistic tattoos (wildlife, portraits, and etc), I rely mostly on Photoshop for arrangements and rendering. I am able to take one object, and put it with the other 3 elements that they were looking for in their design. I print out the tattoo, and I will then make a hand stencil by simply placing the print out on a piece of carbon or thermo fax paper, and draw what I need to make the tattoo on top of the printout. It’s quite simple really. Although I am doing something that is more realistic, I still try to draw in certain objects as much as I can to put my twist on an image that is very specific such as animal portraits, and etc.


Q: How do you get inspired? Do you use some other art mediums to get inspired, such as painting, photography etc?
A: For years I would just draw - nonstop, literally all the time. That is probably the most important thing any tattooer or artist can really do. I cut back on that for a while, and it was noticeable in my tattooing so I started that again. Through the years I have always kept up in painting in some way or another - mostly acrylic, watercolors, and liquid acrylic. Lately I just started doing oils again - and I am very pleased. Painting is very relaxing for me, and sometimes I really need to wind down, or find inspiration in myself. Oil painting helps me with that the best.

Q: So many customers, drawings in your life, what keeps you being creative? Can you be permanently creative? What's the trick? :)
A: I think staying on top of everything is the most important part. I constantly take pictures of anything I see that I could use for reference, and am constantly buying books. I can spend hours in a bookstore. I stay inspired by viewing art of other people, even if it isn't tattoos. I think I pull a lot of inspiration and creativity off of the guys I work with daily. 


How do you keep things fresh and innovative, while maintaining your style?
A: I think loosing yourself in art is the best way to stay fresh. Focusing on yourself, but always trying to push your personal boundaries and levels. If you keep pushing yourself, and your abilities, everything will remain new and your creativity will balance and further - rather than diminish.

Q: I even read on the website that you've been tattooing Michale Graves (former singer of the Misfits) wow! That's an honor! What was the feeling to tattoo him? What was his tattoo?
A: Michale is great friend of mine. I have actually tattooed him on a few different occasions, as well as nearly all of the members of his bands. I have tattooed the stitches on his shoulders and around his elbow and I also did an endless knot on his forearm. Rather than having it a typical knot, we did it so that it looks like it is carved into his skin - so it flows with everything else he has on his body. At the time he only had the one set of stitches on his shoulder - and they were looking pretty faded. In one day, I literally gave him 3 tattoos haha. Tattooing bands is always something I am into, and I have tattooed a lot of bands including members of Darrow Chemical Company, Gotham Rd., The Banner, Suburban Scum, The Doomsday Prophecy, Knock Out, Blitzkid, Mister Monster, B3 The Shark, and etc.

We've been lucky enough to interview Michale Graves too, check out our interview.

Q: What is most challenging part in being a tattoo artist?
A: The most exciting part is actually having an eternal impact on someone’s' life and being able to travel. Tattooing is the best thing in the world. I have never worked a day in my life! The most challenging things with tattooing for me are my scheduling. I tattoo for long hours daily, and it has a toll on my body. I don't get to see my family nearly as much as I would like to, and I would absolutely love to spend more time with my girlfriend. Although I do set my own schedule when it comes to booking appointments and traveling - I just love tattooing and I have to stay busy, so I suppose I make it challenging in those aspects.

Q: Is there any "dream" piece that is still undone?
A: Not really. I am fortunate enough that my customers know my work, and they know what I am into - so I get to do tattoos that I am into daily.

Q: Apart from being a creative tattoo artist during the day, you are also one of the founding members of a record label called "Robot Monster, Inc ". That must be fun journey!
A: It definitely was! I love working with bands and musicians - but I just don't have the time for it anymore. Running a record label takes a lot of time and dedication for it to go anywhere. I use to work with another record label some time ago now - and I was very unhappy with how the owner was treating the bands that he represented. Not only that, but I was doing the majority of the work for him, while he collected all of the royalties, and none of the bands saw a profit at all. I left that record label, and presented the idea to start a new record label to my friend Jake Hades. I flew up to Seattle (I was living in Virginia at the time) and we began the initial process to start Robot Monster, Inc. A few years later and we had released 11 albums from bands spanning the globe. We had many issues with distributors filing bankruptcy, stiffing us on cash, and being a huge pain to work with. Those issues were really taking a toll on myself, and making it hard for me to focus on my career as a tattoo artist. I had to quit working with that label, which was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I was not only letting down a lot of bands, but also my friends. I think all of them understood my reasoning, and were all very supportive of my departure. Robot Monster, Inc. is still active.

What are the basic goals of the "Robot Monster" label?
A: To release great horror punk/rock music, and make sure bands are taken care of. A lot of these bands were some of the best we had ever heard - and that was the problem. No one had heard of them - and if they had then the bands were really not getting what they needed to continue being a band as far as promotion, royalties, and etc. were concerned. We bridged the gap to make sure bands were able to tour with minimal effort, had merchandise, had albums available, promotion, and were making the money they deserved.

Q: Horror music is something that you guys relate the most. Is that like the only music style you prefer or you're open for any other types of artists to collaborate?
A: Personally, I listen to everything. Although I seem to favor older reggae, ska, and punk - you'll find everything on my iPod from death metal, to classical and jazz. Robot Monsters' focus was horror. It can be punk, metal, rock, goth - as long as it is good music!

Q: Do you feel overwhelmed by the popular media and society?
A: Nah - I mostly just keep to myself. I always try to promote myself to stay afloat and travel as much as I can. I am definitely honored when any company features me, or wants to interview me. (Thank you!!)

Q: As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles you face?
A: Time seems to be the roughest obstacle for me. There aren't enough hours in the day. I find myself drawing as soon as I wake up - working all day and drawing until I fall asleep. Then again, as I said - I set my own schedule so I make things harsh on myself.

Q: Web & graphic design, tattooing, music - art! What gives you most creative freedom? Where do you find yourself the most?
A: Tattooing definitely allows me to be the most creative. I think knowing in the back of my head that it is permanent and I can't work on it for 4 weeks, pushes me to do more. Painting allows for a lot of creativity, but I often find myself working on a painting for 6 hours, then not working on it for a few weeks, then going back in. I think the creativity is there, but I only paint when I am inspired to paint.

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: Draw, paint, and tattoo as much as you can. Lose yourself in art, and it will pay off. Listen to critiques, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Please feel free to share your feature plans about your work and your website.
Next year I am doing a bit more traveling than last year. So far I will be tattooing at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts convention in February, Ink-n-Iron in Long Beach California in June, Hell City in Phoenix Arizona in August, and the Seattle Tattoo Expo in August. I literally just started booking all of my travel stuff for 2013 so please stay tuned to my website, Facebook, and instagram for updates on where I will be as I will be adding A LOT more to my schedule. I just got an offer to tattoo at a few convention in the United Kingdom, in which I will definitely be doing that again. I hope to do the Paradise Gathering in Colorado again as well, and am currently working on tattooing at that show again! If you'd like to me to tattoo at your convention, please email me ASAP!

I have some prints and a sketchbook coming out soon - as well as more t-shirts and new designs. I think I will also be re-doing my website too!

If you've got instagram, follow me - travisbroyles13
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