interview with tom farrow | unique style | exile tattoo, uk 70/11/2017

Hello Tom Farrow! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers.
Please start by telling us something about yourself and what inspired you to start tattooing?

I've always been an artist or had an interest in creating art ever since I can remember. I found tattooing at a time where I was looking to have a complete change and do a career I loved and something that inspired me. I've always found it a huge honor that people want me to create art for them on a permanent scale and I think that's what attracted me to want to tattoo how permanent they are and they whole process that went into them. I got my first tattoo at 15 with my brother and it planted a seed, that was what I saw myself doing and the love for the art behind it and the whole process of how tattoos are created grew I didn't really know what I was getting myself into but it seemed the right path to take.

Q: Your tattoo style is awesome. How much time took you to figure out what type of work would be the best to express your creativity?
A: I've been tattooing professionally now for 5 and half years I would say a good 3 and a half years of that was spent learning a lot of different techniques and trying out new machines, new needles, and grey washes and just generally sponging up any bit of information knowledge history that I could find out I always knew I wanted to explore black and grey but it took some practice and various attempts to learn the high contrast style once I found that I knew I wanted to explore that a bit more but I'm always learning. I'm still trying to find some new ways I'm sure I'll change it up again soon.

- How would you call your style?
Super dark black and grey. I've never really thought of putting it under one particular black and grey style but if it's anything it's high contrast realism.

Q: The portraits, oh so perfectly done. Each of them has some specific details on. What part of the human's face you find as most challenging to mark on skin?
A: For me a face is fascinating to tattoo everyone being entirely different makes everyday a challenge but I think the hardest part of any face is creating the emotion in the photo onto skin being able to portray an emotion in a tattoo is something I'm still constantly trying new ways of doing. In my opinion eyes are a key feature on the face or any portrait so that's the most important part to get correct, I always start with them and work from them.

Q: The beautiful mix of black & white ink really sets you apart from many artists out there. How much the knowledge of the tattoo ink plays a big role even when the tattoo is fully healed for the final look?
A: This was one my biggest battles when learning tattooing was finding the right set for me I went through a lot to try and see how differently they healed. I've stuck with the one I used for a few years now and for me it heals how I want it to look. Obviously skin types and tones come into play hugely with it being very high contrast. I use a lot of black in backgrounds almost to hold the tattooing. In the shop I started, they always tell me bold will hold so I think I took that and put it into my work in my own way and any black and grey tattoo needs a good contrast to work off.

Q: Very smooth, almost no black, bold lines... makes like it's part of the skin itself. Really cool technique. Did you take some practices before you started professional tattooing?
A: I did a 3 year apprenticeship in a local shop and though it was a tough time to get through it really did teach me a hell of a lot without any of those practices I wouldn't be anywhere before that. I spent a decade doing graffiti so smooth blends came naturally I never really outlined my pieces back then so it's always been how my brain is wired. I'm still practicing though as much as I can even now it's good to try new things I'm always trying to strive for more.
I think where the tattoo industry is heading the whole kind of traditional apprentice is dying out a lot. I love the idea of being able to pass down a whole life times worth of knowledge to someone but I do agree with having to work your arse off to get that knowledge in the first place even though I served an apprenticeship I very much taught myself by going out of my way to learn what I could, so it's what you put into is is what you'll get out.

Q: Tattooing nowadays isn't just a simple image from the internet, but a lot more. I love the fact that tattoo artists, many of them are trying to develop their own, signature style of work. I've seen that in your artworks as well. It's like you're trying to add some extra details around the tattoo or as a background etc. I bet the creative part of tattooing takes some time, do you collaborate with your clients on some ideas? Tell me about the process.
A: For me the process is almost is just as important as the final piece itself. I like to go off what people feel like on the day all of my work are custom pieces but I like to add my own certain touches in the back background to certify it's me doing the piece.

I will take the client's idea, show them how I feel it would look the best on skin, the clients input is a huge part of it. You can normally tell by someone's reaction to a design if they like it or not but some of my favorite pieces have come from clients being unsure about it and is sitting down having a discussion coming up with something out of the blue and just ruining with it . A lot of my tattoo designs are just a rough to go off and once placed on skin a lot of pen work for backgrounds and creating layers with negative space .

- Is it ok to bring some reverence images?
Personally I say bring as much as possible. I always take the general idea or theme that's bough in as an idea and find my own reference to work off or if possible photograph myself what the idea is if it can be done. I have some clients bringin the highest resolution photos and that's awesome when that happens, but living in a world of people being on their phones normally means a screenshot or a phone photo so I try to find my own way to sourcing that image that I think will work.

Q: You probably have been asked before, sorry to bother with the question, but seeing your talent makes me think you can do anything, have you thought to play a little bit with color inks? :)
A: I've dabbled with color over the years I actually really would love to explore it more being a graffiti artist before tattooing I love working with colors, I'm going to try and implement it somewhere into my tattooing down the line.

Q: I've seen some really cool drawings in your portfolio. Do you sell some of them, on as a print design etc?
A: All of my drawings I tend to just do for me as a bit of break away from the constant tattooing even before I tattooed drawing was just a way from escaping the world so I try to get some drawings done as and when I can. I've never really sold them as I don't like to try and price my own work haha

Q: When you're part of the pro tattoo scene you meet lots of talents, exchange experiences and knowledge, especially on tattoo related events... How often do you travel? What are some of the best tips you have learned from your tattoo journey?
A: Travelling for me was where I learnt all of how I tattoo. I try to do one guest spot a month, I think it's great that you can go around meet like minded people exchange story's knowledge and just soak it all up. One of the best tips I ever got was don't be afraid to ask questions even if is about another style entirely different to your own, you can learn from everything and everyone if you're open to having people give their opinion on your work to see what you could change, then why not?!

Q: Any awesome tattoo artists on your mind that you would love to make a collaboration piece?
A: My biggest influence was Paul Booth when apprenticing and still is to this day so I could only wish!

Q: Where are you located now?
A: I'm located at Exile Tattoo currently in south east England I've been there for a few years now. I do do regular guest spots at other studios around the U.K.

Q: The tattoo industry maybe is in its best times, we've got many new, very good artists, pro equipment, videos, seminars, the magazines are trying their best to promote the progress... What should we look up to for the near feature?
A: I think it's super exciting where it is heading from where it was ten years ago. It's insane the level of work being put out on a daily basis worldwide is inspiring, I personally just want to become the best artist I can be so I think there's a lot to look forward too. I have a few new ideas of where I want to take my work next year and creating some new concepts for tattoos.

You can finish by saying some motivational words for the beginners ;)
Where to begin haha I think the only thing I have to say is be willing to take the shit always be the most critical you can be of your own work and enjoy the ride it's the best industry in the world!

Mr.Tom Farrow, Thank you so much for the interview, Kind Regards,
Iva Green