#TattooArtistThursday INTERVIEW WITH LARRY BROGAN
We meet many people along our travels, Not only during the shows but during life itself.
- Debbie, Larry and Myself (Toronto 2014)
We have been blessed as far as I see it, so much so that I wish I could capture every moment. Along this road, I have run into, on a few occasions now, one of the most humble Tattoo Artists I have every met. If you don't know Larry Brogan, in person or his Art and the influence he's had on our Ink Culture; then you're living under a rock. We'll excuse you this time if that's the case, but we're here to educate and spread the word.
Now, Let's get on with the #TattooArtistThursday Interview.
Q: Tell us about yourself Larry: Your Age?, Where you're from? Where you Tattoo?
A: My name is Larry Brogan and I was born in Chicago in 1969 making me 46 at this writing. I started tattooing in 1990 and opened Tattoo City in Lockport, Illinois in 1994. In 2013 we relocated 3.5 miles from the old shop to a big beautiful building complete with a full art gallery called the Flower of Life where we feature multiple group shows a year mostly to benefit local charities. I am the Vice President of the Artist Guild of Lockport and I enjoy painting and connecting with nature
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: My biggest influence in art has always been Frank Frazetta the greatest fantasy illustrator of all time. I discovered his art on the covers of old Conan novels when I was a kid and I was hooked. From that point on I wanted to be an artist, although at the time I did not think I would eventually become a tattoo artist.
There are too many tattoo artists worthy of looking up to for their artistic skills that it would take too long to list them. The ones that impress me the most are the artists who do incredible and inspiring work while maintaining a humble attitude about everything and don't let ego get in the way. Jeff Gogue and Bob Tyrrell are two names that come to mind. Both are among the best at what they do and constantly give back to the tattoo world. The tons of quality tattooists in the industry today is what makes me strive to be better so I don't get left in the dust.
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: I do a wide variety of styles so I don't know that I can really describe it. I never wanted to specialize in any one thing because I am the type who would get board with it and then tattooing may become a job for me instead of the passion and lifestyle it has been for over 25 years. Coming up in a street shop in the 90's you needed to be well rounded and create quality work regardless of the style. I like to think that I specialize in exceeding my clients expectations.
Q: Please tell us about the first Tattoo Memory you have. That moment that sparked it all.
A: There are a couple moments that I remember when I was in grade school that turned me on to tattoos but I can't recall which came first. My family was hanging out with a bunch of people at the forest preserve and one of my Moms friends had a new tattoo that had crusty scabs covering only the red ink but I thought the tattoo was cool. The other memory was going to the museum in Chicago and seeing a collection of Japanese Yakuza skins displayed between glass. So I guess a red reaction and dead gangsters sparked it all.
Q: Are you a traveling Artist? Do you attend Conventions or Guest Spots across or in other countries?
A: I have traveled a ton doing many many conventions including 21 in 2005 alone. I have done a bunch of guest spots and have tattooed in many foreign countries including Canada, New Zealand, Australia and even India. I have been teaching my 101 Tattoo Tips seminar all over the world to classes as large as 60 people.
Q: How do you feel about today's Tattoo Conventions?
A: Honestly I am mostly over the whole convention scene these days. There are way too many of them and most are not near the quality or crowds that the industry used to see regularly. Much of the younger tattooers are part of the entitlement generation and have no respect or even knowledge of the shoulders that they stand upon. Many of the promoters are more concerned with Freak shows and celebrities than they are the tattoo artists who make the convention possible in the first place. If they all cared about the artists and had the class that Tramp (Detroit) and Durb (Hell City) do, conventions would still be great.
Q: The Evil Question: Coil or Rotary ... Which are you loyal to?
A: I am loyal to what gets the job done in an efficient and quality way. I still primarily use a coil machine for most things beside black and gray which I use a Cheyenne Hawk for. My tattooing has gotten to the point where I can get a lot done in a short time, solid, long lasting with minimal touch-ups required.
Q: What inspires your specific style of art?
A: My clients are what inspires my art. From the initial consultation I usually have a very clear vision in my head of the end result. The people who give me the artistic freedom to do my thing with their ideas usually get my best work.
Q: Any upcoming projects that our fans should keep an eye out for?
A: I am still working on a couple book projects that have been slow going for me due to an over full plate for many years. The first is my 101 Tattoo Tips book that will go along with my future seminars and the second is a Route 66 book that chronicles a large tattoo project I did on a close friend of mine with a RT 66 theme and the 3 week motorcycle trip we took on the route.
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: Draw, draw, draw and get an art education. To keep up with the ever growing tattoo industry and the quality of what is being done today, you need to be a great artist. Just because your mommy likes your scribbles and hangs it on the fridge does not mean you will be the next big rock star tattoo god. Learn about the history of tattooing and how it got to where it is today and for fucks-sake, have respect for your teachers.
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: In recent years I have gotten into growing my own garden. I have a pretty healthy diet and do my best to eat organic but in this backward society it is difficult to do so. I recently bought a new home on an acre and a half and have plans to build a green house this year.
Along with my healthy lifestyle and diet I get regular massages and practice yoga and meditation to maintain my body and mind.
I have been collecting original art for over 20 years by many big names in the Sci-fi, Fantasy, Pinup and Tattoo worlds. Much of my collection is currently being auctioned until Feb 27th at www.floweroflifegallery.com
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: There are countless artists out there who do amazing reproductions of photographs or other artists existing work. While this style takes a lot of technical skill they are really just a glorified copy machine. The artists who impress me the most are the ones who draw their own stuff. The kind that takes many hours of study, research, drawing and refining instead of just tracing a photo. While these names are not necessarily up and comers, Teresa Sharpe, Erin Chance, Steve Moore and Evan Dowdell impress the hell out of me.
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: I don't know that I would call any of my tattoos the best and I hope that I have not yet done my best work but the Route 66 project that I mentioned in a previous question always comes to mind. It is a two sleeve, full backpiece and full chest design that includes iconic images from the most famous road in America.
Thank you so much Larry for joining us here @PrimalAttitude and having this interview with us. It's honestly our pleasure to work with you and watch your growth in the future. Hopefully we can meet again soon, Safe Travels until then.
Our last Question:
Q: Everyone has a saying, a mantra; mine is "It is what it is".
What is the quote you live by?
A: "Never underestimate the power of denial."