Interview with Timmy B

 Hello Timmy B! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really means a lot having you here. I've been following you on social media in the past few years and I'm fascinated by your artistic approach and creative ideas. So once again, thank you for doing this. Pease start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art training or are a self taught artist? Hey there! I’m so happy and appreciative of being asked to do this interview and I’m very thankful for it. I will try my best to keep it short when talking about myself, I’ll sure try. Some fun things to know about me are that I love my kitties and I play drums. As far as formal art training goes, I can say I have none. I’ve been drawing since I was able to hold something that could make a mark and I’m still trying to be better. I’ve had a lot of help in my career and learned so much from so many friends so I’m very thankful for that.

Q: How and when you got into tattooing?
A:I feel like I should start at a very early beginning when I was introduced to even seeing a tattoo on my grandfathers best friend. I was so young but I loved knowing a picture could be permanent. I thought it was just the coolest thing ever and I feel like that core memory as a child never left me. I used to draw on friends and myself with gel pens all through middle and high school and it was always my favorite thing. One day my buddy got a tattoo (A permanent one) and I was obsessed! I couldn’t stop staring and I knew I had to learn and I knew it’s what I wanted to do, but I never thought it would be an actual career that was attainable. Long story short I learned from the man that did my buddy’s tattoo and eventually I found out what not to do. Haha. I learned a lot of bad habits but I obviously didn’t really know so I still pursued it and learned later. I ended up looking at the law requirements for the town I was living in Massachusetts and started doing my own thing while I was in high school. I bought machines from an old co-worker and my dad built me a shop in their basement that was up to regulation based on laws in my town. Pretty wild stuff!

Q: What type of tattoos you use to do as a beginner and how long did it take to figure out your creative direction?
A: I started tattooing at a time where flash shops were predominantly the only shops you could get into. I didn’t have a choice at all of what I could or couldn’t do I just had to do anything and everything. I don’t regret that at all and I personally feel like a lot of artists now want to find a style immediately before they actually have the opportunity to try everything. I did names and kanji symbols and Japanese and realism and new school flash from Tony Ciavarro which was always my favorite. But I feel like doing everything can make you a more versatile tattooer and make you less scared of approaching new projects. I think because later in life I worked with some of the best realism artists and best traditional artists and best new school artists that it led me to a path I could eventually call my own. At least I hope. I guess to answer that question I don’t think I fell into a creative direction until I was already almost 10 years in but I still feel like I’m experimenting and I still like to evolve and try everything. It might be fun!

Q: All of your tattoos are unique masterpieces. How would you call your style?
A: I would never say that any of my tattoos are masterpieces I’m just so thankful people let me put weird stuff on them. I do my best every time and always have fun and hope they do too, even though they’re getting hurt the whole time. And I really don’t know what to call my style because in my head I’m always trying to change and I don’t really know the parameters of what some styles are now. If I had to guess maybe the blanket style would be new school with sometimes realistic hints? But I really don’t know and I kind of like the idea of other people defining it for me and interpreting it for themselves.

Q: I bet you have a lot of creative freedom when designing your tattoos. However tattooing is a service job and your clients might come up with some "crazy" requests. Do you negotiate with them?
A: It is always a collaborative thing. I love when a client sends me 5-10 ideas and trusts me with them but there is always a back and forth to make sure at every step of the way that things will be mutual for both of us. And if we don’t see eye to eye then I’ll always recommended someone who I feel would do the piece justice. I want everyone to get the best tattoo they deserve and if it’s not from me that’s always ok. But for the most part I’m very lucky and my clients are wonderful and we have a great time creating something that they love to wear and I’m proud to have done.

Q: Tell me more about the creative process. Do you use like a pentablet, procreate app? I saw some really cool drawings on your Instagram.
A: I predominately use my iPad since it’s fast and very easy to make color studies and adjust colors to show your friends and clients. But I really really love getting to use pencils on toned paper when I have the time because I love that raw feeling and loose-ness you just don’t get on any sort of screen. I’m sure many tattooers who draw on paper will still do the ‘’double tap’’ trying to erase because we’re all programmed now and just always laugh when I do that.

- What if a client changes their mind "last minute" do you have any rules for this, to save time and energy?
When it comes to a client changing their mind last minute it really depends on the change and I’m always open to notes from my client. If it’s just a color change or a slightly different shape of an eyeball or something rather minuscule it doesn’t bother me at all. If it’s a full design change I’m not comfortable doing it because I really take my time with drawings and I pride myself on always being very prepared with a line drawing and color study. So for me to redraw a whole piece isn’t something I can do comfortably. I think rescheduling and end up with a better result is smarter than rushing something that has the potential of being very mediocre.

Q: What are the most interesting experiences with the clients? I don't think you do a lot memorial pieces, so I guess your clients have some funny stories they share with you?
A: I LOVE my clients and I have so much fun with them. The most interesting experiences are when everyone is just laughing and having the best time and I feel like that’s the best feeling in the world. Sometimes people get emotional and it’s also a great feeling to be there for them, whether it’s a loss or a transition in life or whatever it might be, we all know tattooing is therapeutic and just listening might help a lot and laughing also helps a lot so I’m lucky to work with an amazing crew who appreciates and caters to both.

Q: If given a chance, as a funny "payback" what would you tattoo on your best friend?
A: That’s a very unique and funny question…. honestly I’ve tattooed some of my first tattoos on my best friend and I think that’s more payback than anyone deserves. The question should be, what’s my payback for doing those tattoos? Haha

Q: Kyle did a very cool portrait of you! We love Kyle, I think you guys should work together on some big tattoo like a full back piece... Both super talented and very creative. I think it would be another masterpiece in your portfolio! Seriously think about it heh.
A: Kyle’s work is amazing and I’d love to work with him someday! A full back is a hell of a commitment but I would love to do a piece with him someday, we could finish in one session. Thanks for making me look good Kyle!

Tattoo done by @Kyle

Q: Do you have any favorite tattoo you did that was a bit challenging to do but in the end turned out really great?
A: Honestly I have a lot of tattoos like that where I’ll be drawing it and making a line drawing and just punching myself in the face wondering why the hell I signed up for it. But yeah if you can even kind of nail it it’s very rewarding. I had to do some crazy flower when I was lucky enough to be at the Evian tattoo show and it scared the hell out of me. But when it was done I was really proud and as much stress as it was trying to figure it out, it was definitely worth it. I have tons more examples but for the sake of the poor reader I’ll move on.

Q: I love the big tattoos in your portfolio. Very detailed and the colors just blend in perfectly. Honestly, how long does it take to finish a big tattoo?
A: I don’t do a ton of really large scale work but I do enjoy it. I think it takes me a little longer than some people because I naturally just second guess myself a lot even if I have a proper color study. I really admire artists who have that vision and do such a great job every time and it just blows my mind so I’ll need to ask some more questions if I get to do more big work.

- Everyone is concerned about the client's pain threshold, but how are you handling it? Concentration, good stamina?
When it comes to a pain threshold I feel like I’m a bit more sympathetic now than I ever was, a few years ago I think I’d try to push my clients to go as far as possible and that was only because of the pressure of social media and feeling the need to post all the time or else you won’t be seen or popular. Now I want my clients to feel comfortable to say they’re done and not feel that pressure of needing an instagram photo and finish things in however many sessions it takes. No matter how big or small.

Q: I like the tshirt line with your designs. The Body Creative Print shop, did a really good job. How this collaboration happen?
A: I love Andrew and his wife that own The Body Creative Print Shop and I’ll absolutely work with them. They were so kind and make absolutely amazing clothing and I’m very glad they reached out to me in the first place, I was supposed to tattoo Andrew at a convention called Middle Of The Map in Iowa and unfortunately I couldn’t make it but we kept in touch and he sent those super awesome shirts so I’m very excited to tattoo him next year and work with him and his wife in the future.

- Are you open to collaborate with other brands?

I’ll collaborate with other brands because I feel like art should be put out everywhere, I mean why not right?

Q: Last year Eternal Ink had your artwork on their Halloween ink edition. Is this like a special edition of inks or? The colors are amazing! Tell me more.
A: Eternal ink has supported me for such a long time and I love their entire crew and every single person involved. They’ve asked me to do some funny ink things and anytime they ask me for anything you bet your ass I’ll do it. That ink set was just for a quick Halloween promo and it was very fun to do.

Q: Your talent is undeniable and I think you can try your luck in other creative jobs like illustration and graphic design. Hmm maybe when you (if ever) get tired of tattooing... Ever thought about this?
A: I really haven’t thought about it in total honesty, I always planned on dying on my stool in the middle of a fun tattoo because I can’t imagine my life without tattooing….sorry in advance to whatever client friend that might be. I love tattooing and I love the social aspect and the creative aspect and everything about it. But if you’re hiring a mediocre graphic designer for side work keep me posted.

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies? Graffiti, paining?
A: My hobbies are mostly outside of art, I love playing drums and riding bikes and petting every cat or dog that I meet. I painted for a long time and didn’t find it relaxing like a lot of people do. I do love colored pencils but I try my best to use other outlets to not always be in the same tattooing position I’m always in if that makes sense. I need some cardio!

Q: You are happy to work with award winning tattoo artists at NiteOwl Tattoo Mass in Massachusetts. How many of you are there and are you welcoming guest artists?
A: Of course I’m happy to work with my friends who are all amazing! I don’t think awards define a person's art but I’m always excited to see any of my friends or co workers or anyone win an award. We welcome tons of guests artists as long as we have room, it’s a smaller shop so it’s not always feasible for us to have everyone but it’s always a really cool feeling to know people want to work with us and hangout for a while… As long as you like to go bowling... that's usually our go to. Haha

- Any special requirements for those who want to join your team?
The only requirement for being hired at the shop is that every artist that works there is comfortable with you and we all get along and get to laugh and inspire each other. It’s democracy for sure.

Q: As an award winning artist, how much the recognition from your fellow artists mean to you?
A: To be very honest the awards are always so great to win and my friends support me the same way I support them when it happens. However….our sense of humor is pretty brutal so we usually just make fun of each other and laugh and joke around. I really do appreciate people that don’t take everything too seriously but while also knowing how much love we all have for each other at the end of the day.

Q: We live in a time when tattoo conventions, seminars and guest spots are very important simply because not only they are a great opportunity to meet new people and have fun but one can learn a lot too. Do you agree?
A: Absolutely. I agree so much with seminars and guest spots and any opportunity to learn. When I started tattooing people didn’t want to share a damn thing about what they knew or any trade secrets or anything. I’ve taught seminars and attended seminars and I 100% learned so much. I think the freedom of knowledge and the relationships the tattoo community has now only makes tattoos better and the art better. It also pushes people to not be stagnant and think they know everything... There is something to learn from everyone.

- Are you planning some for the upcoming months?
The next conventions I’ll be at will be in Richmond in October at the Anime Ink convention and the Middle Tennessee tattoo expo in Nashville TN.

Q: What are your thoughts about the global tattoo scene? Do you think we are heading in a good direction?
A: I think the industry ebbs and flows a lot and I’m definitely concerned with all of the ink regulations that are happening in Europe and definitely heading our way in the U.S. I think artwork wise I really love where the industry is going what people are doing it is so insane and so amazing. I’m more upset with what social media is doing to artists and instead of focusing on art you now have to dance and do a bunch of shit and as I’m typing I’m just realizing I’m old. Haha

Q: After so many years of tattooing, do you still have the enthusiasm?
A: Oh hell yeah! I still draw my ass off and lose sleep every night if I don’t think a design is good enough and then when I tattoo I stare at it all night and get pissed at myself for not noticing things or making changes and I feel like if that’s not enthusiasm I don’t know what is. In the same respect I LOVE that I’m always questioning my designs and artwork because it proves to me that I still really do care. I’ll never be the best in the world by any means but I love what I do and it’s been my life for a very long time. Being stagnant isn’t an option.

Q: What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist?
A: The thing I like most about being a tattooer is getting to hangout with my friends everyday. The people and friends and clients we all get to meet as a shop are so awesome too and you really don’t think how quickly a great client becomes a personal friend and I feel like that’s something you don’t really get at most jobs. We all talk shit and create art and laugh and we’re so lucky we can travel the world and hangout with other friends anywhere we want. It’s the best job in the world. I’ve met some of my best friends ever through this industry and I’m forever thankful.

Q: Any advice for those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: The best advice I can give to any aspiring tattooer would be TRY EVERYTHING! Don’t cut yourself off from certain styles because you don’t like them or don’t relate to them. There is so much to learn from every artist and every style. My buddy told me a long time ago to make some games with yourself. So if you’re tattooing a nautical star that you don’t care about, create a game for yourself and say, “I’m going to make this the cleanest fuckin nautical star ever!” I loved that so much because it makes it fun to just see how clean you could make it and make sure every line is perfect. And lastly…..HAVE FUN!

Timmy B, thank you for the interview, It really means a lot,
Kind Regards
The Skin Artists Tattoo Magazine Team