interview with rich harris | unique style | Sutton Coldfield 03/10/2018


Q: How long have you been tattooing? What inspired you to start learning about this beautiful art form?
A: I’ve been tattooing just over 5 years now. I first had the idea when I was 9 years old at junior school, my friends used to ask me to draw super heroes on their arms with biro pen. Id forgotten about the idea until I was 33, when my best friend started learning to tattoo which inspired me to look into it as a career. I then started building my portfolio and made a list of studios I was going to apply for, luckily I had another friend who opened a studio around that time, he allowed me work there straight away which was a massive help.

Q: Was it hard to learn? What is your opinion about tattoo apprenticeship?
A: It’s by far one of the hardest things I had to learn. When you first start it's incredibly daunting because there are so many aspects of making a good tattoo, technique, design, machine set up, what needle groupings to use… the list never ends. My opinion is that apprenticeships are the best way to learn, a great master will save you years in trying to learn from scratch.

Q: The last decade artists can pride themselves for being able to create realistic tattoos, that gave the tattooing a whole new concept of not just as a designer image but a highly skilled technique that many artists nowadays are trying to learn. It's innovative for sure. Color tattooing especially, as being said many times that color tattoos are a bit more challenging to do. What is your opinion on this?
A: I think any aspect or style is challenging, it depends on what level you want to get to. We’re forever learning which makes our job so amazing!

Q: What do you prefer color or black & grey tattoos and why?
A: I like both, I like working in color but sometimes black and grey … I feel it's good to learn both.

Collaboration with Damian Gorsky and Niorkz

Collaboration with artist @bintt

Q: Big tattoos such as sleeves and backpieces can take 4-5 sessions, that's a lot of hard work, patience, and pain for the client, but I believe after it's all done, it's a pleasure for both, you and the client, so it's worth it : ) How much these types of work give you the ability to really show off your skills? Even though small tattoos can be challenging and complex, but however, I think people still consider big tattoos as more of a challenge?
A: I think it's a natural progression, in most cases artists will start off doing small pieces and then go on to do bigger work. The human body is a big canvas, so it makes sense to do larger scale work rather than cover someone with lots of small pieces from different artists. It is more of a challenge when you start this scale of work but you get used to it very quickly.

Q: In creating a portrait tattoo, doing the details such as eyes, hair etc I think the artist puts an extra energy to make it looks more "realistic" the eye expression is probably the most important, however, what are some of the most tricky details you find as "most" time consuming?
A: Hair, eyes, hands take time, that's why I do abstract most of the time. I feel especially with color, less detail will age better and if you prefer super detailed work then black a grey would look better over 10-30 years.

Q: I also like the fact that every tattoo you do looks unique and reminds me of illustrative (graphic) design type of work, so much patterns, a nice play with colors and mixture of many styles in one particular design, really impressive. How do you get inspired? Do you draw a lot for each client or the ideas can come spontaneously?
A: I was into music production for several years and I used to create mostly sample based compositions. I partly use a similar technique to create my designs. I build my own libraries from images that inspire me, these images are taken from all areas of my everyday life. I may see a picture, color combination or interesting formation when I am out and about, take a photo and use it.

There's an element of freehand in my work also, I like to draw or paint on the client to create nice flow. I guess these elements I combine give me a unique style. However this is always evolving and I’m always getting inspired so next year I’m already thinking of adding a more organic, freehand elements to my work.

tattoo collaboration with artist Jamie Lee Knott

tattoo collaborations with artist Jamie Lee Knott @jamieleetattooart

Tattoo collaboration with Ryan Smith @ryansmithtattooist

Tattoo collaboration with Sebastian Nowacki @tattoobylaw

Tattoo collaborations with Jamie Lee Knott @jamieleetattooart & @bintt

Q: I think nowadays, as we live in a so-called digital world of so much media, constant pressure for progress and competition, how do you cope with that? Do you have any artists you look up to?
A: I really enjoy it, I don’t think any artists rate themselves and I’m the same, I’m always trying to improve. I look up to so many artists I consider better than me and think ‘how can I get to that level?’ then I get to work! I have loads of artists that I look up to, too many to name… check out who I follow on my Instagram haha

Q: I can see many type of tattoo styles that you love doing, have you ever thought doing something completely different?
A: Not yet, I do stuff I enjoy… maybe a natural evolution over time will lead me onto something completely different :)

Q: What would you say to someone who is planning to start tattooing? What is the best approach?
A: I'd suggest creating an amazing portfolio first and foremost, showcasing your art and tattoo design. I feel this will give you and edge if you know how work flows on the body. Then target several artists that you like and ask them for an apprenticeship. Maybe book in for some work with these artists to extended your relationship. If your portfolio is awesome then it will be difficult for them to turn you down, but if you fail in this, keep going! Attitude is everything.

Please write your contact info and tell us if you're attending a tattoo convention soon so we can say Hi and maybe book an appointment ; )

Im attending Venezia tattoo convention next week OCTOBER 12/13/14 and then Brussels in
NOV 9/10/11

Mr.Rich Harris, Thank you for the interview,
Kind Regards,
The Skin Artist Team