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#TattooArtistThursday Interview w/ Chris51

Posted by Domenic Amatiello on

In today's #TattooArtistThursday Interview we have the pleasure of sitting down with Tattoo Artist Chris51 from Springfield Oregon. If you're into awesome Color Cartoon Style Tattoos ... Chris is right up your alley.
 We hope you enjoy!  
Q: Tell us about yourself Chris: Your Age?, Where you're from? Where you Tattoo?
Name: Chris51
Age: 44, but acts 12
From: Springfield (home of The Simpsons) OR
Shop: Area 51 Tattoo
Q: Who was your greatest influence in the art scene that made you want to become a Tattoo Artist? Who do you look up to within the Industry? Do you have mentors that make you strive to be better?
A: Saturday morning cartoons! Hanna Barbera and Looney Tunes sparked an artistic fire in me that has never dissipated. Later on, Jermaine Rogers' rock-n-roll screen prints showed me I could combine my love of both music and cartoony illustration together, and there were no rules.
 
As far as looking up to other tattooers, I don't really. I know there are a million better than myself, but I focus my extra time and attention on other projects, always striving to push boundaries and accomplish new things. There are many, many that I respect, but I have always just kind of done my own thing, not giving a fuck if anyone else was into it or if it was "cool". I've never tried to emulate anyone else because I was never in it to become somebody else; I am an artist to express myself through my own art. Although, most of my shit just ends up looking like Simpsons haha, but hey, you draw what you love right?!
 
What makes me strive to be better is a personal work ethic and morality instilled in me by my father to never give up and never slow down.
Q: Please explain to our fans what your specific style is? You have such a unique style in the Tattoo industry, how would you describe it? What makes it stand out? 
A: Cartoon & Animation. I use to be a realism artist but found that trying to replicate flawless animation art and executing perfect linework and color saturation is much more fun and challenging.
Q: Please tell us about the first Tattoo Memory you have. That moment that sparked it all.
 
A: I owned a music store in the early 2000’s. When Napster hit and downloading started, the bottom fell out of the independent music store market. I decided to get creative to stay in business and add a tattoo station in my store. At that time there was no tattoo TV or mainstream love for the art, so finding someone I trusted around my inventory was difficult. After turning away a sea of ex-cons and tweekers I decided to just try it myself. After my first line of my first tattoo, I was like “fuck the music store, this is what I was meant to do?” I got rid of the records and opened Area 51 Tattoo in 2003. I have never worked for another shop, and I never could, I am way too much of a control freak and work-a-holic.
Q: Are you a traveling Artist? Do you attend Conventions or Guest Spots across or in other countries?
 
A: I got tired of tattooing at most tattoo conventions, because I got tired of the egos and assholes that accompanied them. I decided to make my own tattoo tour, so I created the Geeksterink Legends Tour. It's the world’s largest tattoo tour, tattooing at over 20 comic cons per year, all over the world.
In 3 years I have held almost 75 shows so far, and the brand has become synonymous with top quality geeky tattooing.
 
The exception is the Liverpool tattoo convention in the UK, they put on the best show ever. I find that most international cons I do have a better grasp on how to run a good convention and keep lots of politics out of it.
Q: How do you feel about today's Tattoo Conventions?
 
A: Haha, guess I answered that above. As you can tell, I can't stand most of them! They were much more meaningful and educational a decade ago when it wasn't a bunch of non-tattooers trying to cash in on the industry.
Q: The Evil Question: Coil or Rotary ... Which are you loyal to?
 
A: Rotary! I used a coil for 15 years, and the second I was forced to use a rotary I never went back. Like most everything that evolves with technological advances, tattoo machines do too. Those stuck in the past are just afraid of change... you know, old grumpy, complain'y traditional artists haha.
Q: What inspires your specific style of art?
 
A: Cartoons!
Also, I am like The Borg (Star Trek), always striving for unobtainable perfection in my application.
Q: Any upcoming projects that our fans should keep an eye out for?
 
A: I just released my third book, this time it's an autobiographical/self-help/motivational book called ALPHA GEEK.
 
I will also have my new TV show coming out this winter about my Geeksterink Legends Tour. It's a traveling road show about tattooing at comic cons, full of celebs, great art and stupid shenanigans...but all positive and fun.
 
My first comic book is under way, and I also should have a baseball book out this year.
Q: What advice do you have for someone that wants to follow in your path? What is your advice to new artists on the brink of entering into this career?
 
A: It sucks! Haha. It is mean, negative, full of double-crossing assholes just riding coattails and stepping on toes to get to the top. Stay out of the drama and just do your own thing and focus all of your energy on your goals; not the evil allures of money and hate. If you keep your head up and ears closed and are willing to
out-work everyone around you it can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career.
Q: We always like to ask the harder questions, dig a little deeper then everyone else. Can you tell us 3 things that most people wouldn't know about you?
 
A: Dig as deep as you want man, I am an open book cause I don't give a shit about what others think. This industry has hardened me lol.
 
  1. I am a writer. I have 3 books published and probably 5 more in the works. It is the closest thing to complete artistic satisfaction that I have gotten since starting tattooing and painting. This includes sappy poetry and children' books even!
  2. I would much rather paint than tattoo any day!
  3. I want to open the first ever official Simpsons museum. I would retire from tattooing if that happens.

 

Q: Weeding out all of the social influences, as we're bombarded every day with thousands of Tattoo images; is there any up and comers that you've got your eye on? Who are they and what is it that's tweaked you about their style?

 
A: I don't pay too much attention because I am too busy doing my own thing and trying to advance my own career and legacy for my children. The older I get the less I care about the goings-ons in the industry and the more I just want to coach my kids' sports, paint and write. I just follow my friends that I have met in my long career and that's good enough for me. Although, I do have tons of young artists reach out to me to be on my Geeksterink Tour, so I am constantly amazed at how incredibly talented the younger generation is, it blows my mind. I research them all fully before they are added to the tour.
Q: Out of the thousands of Tattoo's you've done, is there one that you can specifically say is your best? A piece that just puts that smile on your face? Can you share it with us?
 
A: Well it's not my best by any means, and to today's standards its nothing to brag about. But, I did this Star wars totem at a con in the UK almost a decade ago, and it won Best In Show. That was a significant turning point in my career because it beat out several peers I admired, including Matt "Oddboy" Jones, which I still like to rub in to him haha. More importantly, it showed me the reward for hard work and what it can accomplish. I was the first one at the con that day, and the last done. I didn't party the night before, just studied and redrew my art to prepare. It taught me that hard work can beat pure talent any given day. It directly changed my career path in an instant.
Our last Question: 

Thank you Chris, we really appreciate all the answers. Love all the work! Maybe we'll see you on the road. In the meantime, keep rockin' the awesome Tattoos! 
Q: Everyone has a saying, a mantra; mine is "It is what it is". 
What is the quote you live by?
 
A: My own I made up long ago is:
"Hard work can beat talent any day!"
Not my own that I fell in love with is:
“I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl”-Red Hot Chili Peppers
Colors that we're made for Cartoon style Tattoos! 

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