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First, Last name: Chris Puryear
Shop Name & Location: Ol’ Skool Tattoos, New Bern, NC
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org IG: @chris_puryear_tattooer
When did you start tattooing: 2005
Who was your first client, what type of tattoo did you do:
While I was doing my apprenticeship I tattooed one of the tattoo artist that I worked with. I did a traditional style crab on his leg. It was a piece of Bert Krak flash off of the wall. The tattoo turned out awesome. I had bold clean lines and solid shading. That tattoo gave me confidence that I needed to begin tattooing full time.
How long have you been doing tattoos: 11 years
Describe your style of tattooing:
I love traditional tattoos, the boldness of the designs have always been appealing to me. So when I was developing a personal style, I wanted to take to boldness and concepts of the traditional style but apply modern illustrative technique to them. My style is just a more fully rendered approach to traditional tattoos. I really like to tattoo all styles. I feel like tattooing in a street shop I need to be able to pull off whatever the customer wants. I enjoy doing Japanese, black and grey, and I really like doing comic book art.
Do you have any tattoos & how many:
I do, I have around 30. I got most of them when I was 18-24 yrs old. I need to get some more, I have been slacking on that. I work long hours and rarely take time for myself. I have mostly traditional style tattoos. They have been cool since 1940 and are still awesome today.
What inspired you to start tattooing:
I have always been into art. I did graphic design, photography, film making, and screen printing in high school. I attended East Carolina University with an Art major for a while before I got an apprenticeship. One of my friends in school had some tattoos and I went with him to a tattoo shop. I was blown away by the different styles of art. New School tattoos were really popular at that time, I loved that super bright, in your face, exaggerated style. I wanted to be able to draw like that. Then I opened a magazine and saw traditional tattoos for the first time. I had an immediate attraction to them, it seemed like something I needed to be a part of. I got a few tattoos and became friends with the guys that worked at the shop. I enjoyed everything about the environment of the tattoo shop. The art, the music, the girls! It was a place where I could be myself and be around like minded people. Bukowski said “find something you love and then do it until it kills you”, so I’m working on that.
Who or what are your influences:
My biggest influence is my mentor, Alex Liverano. His style and techniques paved the way for my evolution as an artist. Alex has pure technical skills; he can do the cleanest lines and the smoothest shading on any skin. Thankfully he taught me those skills. He not only taught me how to tattoo but also showed me the business side of things well. Next would be Sailor Jerry, of course, he is the Godfather of Old School bright and bold tattoos. Tony Ciavarro has always been a big influence. I don’t get to do very many new school pieces but the way he uses different light sources was innovative and I try to incorporate that into style when possible. I owe a lot to Brandon Bond. His seminars really changed my approach to tattooing. Brandon’s advice helped me to realize that it was ok to break to “rules”, not every tattoo has to be done the way that the old timers did it. He helped me to start using more advanced methods of tattooing, from handling clients, to stenciling, and the importance of individualized style. Once I followed his advice my tattoos really began to transform.
Have you done any cover ups, how many have you done:
I have done a ton of cover ups. I think I did one the first week I was tattooing. I have a love/hate relationship with cover ups. It seems like everyone makes me cover up their old crappy work before I can get some fresh skin. Cover ups are a challenge, but the payoff is very rewarding.
What do you want the world to know about your tattoo life and any advice you can give to the aspiring tattoo artist:
Tattooing may seem like a dream job and yes it is a very fun job, but it requires a lot of work and dedication. I spend many hours before and after work honing my skills, drawing and preparing tattoos. Tattooing is my life. Tattooing has allowed me to meet so many great people and make the best friends. It allows me to make a living doing something that I am passionate about. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. As far as advice goes, if you are pursuing career in tattooing make sure you have art skills first. If you can’t draw, you can’t tattoo. Do not under any circumstance try to teach yourself how to tattoo. Get an apprenticeship! Your mentor will show you everything they have been taught plus everything they have figured out, so you already start out ahead of the game. It takes all the guess work out of the mystery of tattooing.