One of the most exciting aspects of the contemporary creative scene in Brighton is that it is not solely bound to art galleries. From a graffiti in the wall to the bottom of a skateboard, art is an element that we seem to encounter in every surface of the city. It even lives within our own skin sometimes. Inspired by this idea, I caught up with the hand-poke tattoo artist Ezzy Bones, who works at the BlackHouse Club tattoo studio. We talked about how his industry has been affected by the pandemic, about his main sources of inspiration, and the creative relationship he has with his clients.
How did your journey in the tattoo industry start?
I did an art foundation course, which led me to get interested in illustration. However, I then decided that I did not want to go to University, so instead I focused on making music and traveling. During this time, I continued to make illustrations, and about four years ago, I naturally drifted into tattooing.
What’s your process like when you’re working on a new piece? How do you balance your clients’ needs with your own creative outlook?
Luckily, most of the projects I work on are either tattooing my own designs or making custom pieces that are in the same style. If I feel like I can do their idea justice in my own way then I usually draw up a basic design concept for my clients and then edit the idea with them until it is perfect. I love the collaborative aspect of this process, and it has led to some of my favourite pieces.
Where do you source your inspiration from?
I have a melting pot of different influences such as folk art, traditional tattoo concepts, surrealism and even abstract art. My influences shift quite often, but at the moment I’m really into Diego Rivera’s work.
Is there a specific topic that you like to explore through your drawings?
At the start of my career as a tattoo artist, I actually spent a lot of time working on a style that would swiftly transition from my art work into tattoos. Because of this, I don’t tend to focus on a specific subject matter, but I do try to create my own little weird world within my work, and I’m always referring back to these concepts through my own process. Ultimately, I like to create characters in my work, and I think that’s something I’ve always done since I was a kid.
How do you think the tattoo industry has shifted the way we understand and relate to art?
We live at a time where tattoos are very popular and accessible, this has led to people having to pay more attention to art, and to do conscious decisions about it. A lot of people now follow tattoo artist not only for their ability to do tattoos, but also because they admire their artwork. This has given the tattoo industry a wider impact in the art world in general. I find it fascinating how many artists are naturally transitioning into tattooing.
I suppose your industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic, how have you adapted your practice to this challenge?
Yeah, it has been a pretty difficult time for the industry, as it has for everyone. It’s strange not knowing when we can work in the studio again, and it can make it harder to find motivation to continue to create designs. However, I’ve just been digging in and drawing as much as possible. I’ve also starting making some prints and painting more. Maybe I’ll put some of that work out there at some point, but at the moment I’m just enjoying it for myself.
Do you have a favourite piece? If so, what made it your favourite?
I don’t think I have a favourite piece. Usually, the last piece I’ve done becomes my favourite simply because the more I work, the more defined my ideas and execution become, so I find that extremely rewarding and exciting.
Have you got any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to?
I had load of tattoos that were booked in, and in the planning process before we shut our doors for this lockdown, so I’m really excited to get back and continue working on those. Other than that, I’ve been planning some larger scale painting, and I would also love to put on an exhibition in collaboration with my friend @piratepokes.
To see more of Ezzy Bones’ work…