Oliver Macintosh is a self-proclaimed Black & Grey tattoo legend and the newest full time tattooer at FST.
He’s been with us since February 2012.
In this clip he talks about how he got into tattooing, who he learned to tattoo with, some of the things he’s learned at Frith Street Tattoo and how tattooing can affect a tattooer’s personal life.
I’ve known Soap (Stewart McKellor) since 2003. I met him just as I was starting to learn to tattoo, before I did my first tattoo.
Soap’s shop Lab Monkey in Stirling, Scotland was the first place I did a day’s work as a professional tattooer. I learned a lot there.
Aside from Soap’s contribution to my early development as a tattooer, he’s seen some of his friends start working at Frith Street Tattoo. Including Steve Byrne, Aaron Hewitt myself and Valerie Vargas.
I was in Scotland for the Scottish Tattoo Convention held in Edinburgh. So I visited Lab Monkey and did a few tattoos. After a meal with his family I took the opportunity to interview Soap about what it’s like to be on the periphery of a shop like Frith Street Tattoo.
In this clip he talks about why he started tattooing and his first tattoo experience. He also talks about the influence FST has on his shop and what it’s like getting tattooed at FST.
Thank you Soap.
You can see some of Soap’s work here.
Stefano has been at Frith Street almost since it’s inception.
He’s been with us for almost a decade and is the only apprentice Frith Street Tattoo ever had. He started handing out shop flyers on the streets of soho, progressed to answering the phone, cleaning toilets, making needles and finally to doing great tattoos.
I’ve worked with Stefano almost every day since I started at Frith Street in August 2007. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to be a small part of his progress into a solid, well-respected tattooer.
I shot this interview late one night after the shop closed. We had a couple of drinks and talked for over two hours.
Stefano talked about how he tries to find his own style within established tattoo styles, the historical and current influence on his work and Gwyneth Paltrow.
I interviewed Jordan in August last year and posted a short video clip in November.
With my new line of questioning and techniques and I think this is a much more interesting interview. I hope I can still use some of the footage from the first interview too.
Here Jordan talks about how some negative experiences can influence you and teach you to be a better tattooer (and person), how he learns about tattoo styles and the people who invented them (hint: its not the internet). Then he talks about how it’s important to know how to give a customer what they want but that’s not always what they ask for.
Thanks for watching.
Portraits and Panoramas
Well, not really panoramas, but it’s the same idea.
I mentioned in an earlier post about a photo book I’d like to release when this film is complete.
I’ve been trying out different ways of taking photos around the shop.
Here’s a few portraits of some of the guys at the shop that I used to test how I’d use the look.
Dante was the first one I shot. When stitching it together I realised I could tell a story or at least emphasise elements by shooting from different angles.
With this portrait of Emiliano I tried to capture different points in time in the same final image. Sadly, I didn’t get chance to stick around until he finished the tattoo.
Jesus & Mary. These guys watch over the shop every day. Anyone who’s been in to our basement shop will recognise this statue.
I decided to get shots of The Shop when it was empty. I hope to take one during a busy work day once I get comfortable with this technique.
Even though the space was tight, I managed to get most of the angles I wanted for this portrait of Valerie.
I look forward to doing more of these in the future. I really like the way these pictures have some of the same feel as getting tattooed or doing a tattoo. There’s multiple things to think about, lots going on and it’s a little overwhelming at times.
While Valerie was painting a sticker design to promote this film, I did a quick & dirty test with my iPhone to see if I could use the same idea with video. I uploaded these clips in HD at 1080p so they’ll look great full screen.
There’s a white version that emulates the look of the photos.
Then there’s a version with a black background that I think suits video better than the white.
These are early versions and tests. I aim for the finished products to be much better looking and more interesting.
Valerie Vargas February 2013
The post about hardware, software and equipment can wait…
Last week I interviewed Valerie again.
This time with my revised line of questioning. I think the answers may seem a little disjointed here, out of context. I’m really happy with the direction this interview took and I think it will help the overall direction of the film.
Here Valerie talks a little about the importance of peer review, reference, homage and touches on some of the negative health aspects that have arisen directly as a result of tattooing.
Late January 2013, Update
It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted.
I don’t have a lot to show from the work I’ve been doing on this project over the last couple of weeks. Danny Woodruff has transcribed the last of the interviews that I shot last year and he’s waiting for me to shoot more. The reason I haven’t shot any more just yet, is that as well as setting up reliable backups and other post production tasks, I’ve been working on new ideas about the questions I want to ask the guys at the shop. I hope that the new angle to the interviews will be much more interesting and further away from the standard tattooer interviews that we’ve all read or watched many times, as well as being more interesting to the interviewees. Hopefully it will be stuff the guys at the shop like to talk about too.
So there’s something interesting to look at in this post, here’s a teaser I put together with some footage of tattoos (for a change)
As soon as I shoot new interviews I’ll put short clips here along with updates on the progress of the film.
Maybe the next post will be about the slightly less exciting part of which software, apps, hardware and equipment I’ve set up to deal with the myriad of tasks making a film requires.
On the 2nd of January I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Reinke aka Horikitsune.
It’s the longest interview yet – we talked for almost two and a half hours at his private studio in London.
A conversation with Alex is always interesting and at times I was reluctant to steer the discussion back into areas relevant for this project.
Alex Reinke is a good friend of ours. He worked full-time at Frith Street Tattoo between 2008 and 2010 but he’s been visiting since 2004. His influence is still felt with the people who worked with him and it’s certainly noticeable within my tattoo work. It’s an honour to have him be part of this project, partly because of his openness and humility but mostly for his unique perspective and position within the lineage of modern tattooing – which is a theme at the heart of this project.
In this short clip he talks about relationships within tattooing, why he no longer works at Frith Street Tattoo and how he feels about the shop now he works privately.
Thank you for reading and watching.
Thank you to Alex for your hospitality and openness.
More Valerie Vargas!
Here’s more stuff from the dusty hard drives I’ve been moving over.
I think this is the first interview I did. I probably sat myself in front of the camera to test it was working but that doesn’t count.
This short (very roughly edited) interview was a screen test for me to check equipment, workflow and editing software. We did it in April 2012. My questions were vague (mostly the usual crap about influence, reference and favourite tattooers) and my interview technique left a lot to be desired. I learned a lot from this interview. I’ve learned a lot from every interview and shoot so far, but we always have a special place in our heart for our first. This interview gave me the confidence to interview people I wasn’t so familiar with.
The only equipment I still use from this shoot is the camera body and SD card. Everything else, the lighting, microphone, recording device and lenses have been replaced by higher quality versions.
I’m showing it here as behind-the-scenes footage for those who care about that stuff.
Valerie Archive Interview (April 2012) from Stewart Robson on Vimeo.
Valerie Vargas Lion Backpiece
I mentioned in my last post that this project originally had a slightly different focus. Also in this post too.
Over the last few days I’ve been migrating files from my laptop to a much more suitable editing computer. While I was moving them I had to check what some of them were and I found some old clips I’d made to help me get used to editing and filming with the equipment I use now. This clip doesn’t have the same feel as the stuff I’m shooting now but I still like it. Rather than it never see the light of day except in my household I thought it might be interesting here.
I hope to post some more older stuff soon too.