Q and A With Timmy B.
I have had the awesome pleasure of interviewing one of the best tattooists on the scene today, Timmy B. This guy is not only a very talented artist, but he is an amazingly genuine person, as well. I see his work being emulated and reproduced all the time. I wanted to know his thoughts on that subject as well as ask him some technical questions about his brilliant tattoos. I feel like his work ethic should be the standard for any up-and-coming tattooist. He has become a renewed inspiration for me to strive for excellence, and I applaud his tact. There needs to be more tattooists with his mindset in the industry; it would make for a much more hospitable place.
Ok…so…I am going to ask some questions that are not like the usual ones asked by people who don’t tattoo…haha….I have been doing a column for the magazine for a year and a half now. It deals with technical questions and advice. I wanted to interview some of my favorite artists and ask them questions that I would be asking if we were hanging out and talking among ourselves. If there are any questions that are too personal or that you just don’t want to answer, just leave those blank I appreciate your involvement and I promise to do you justice in this interview!! Thanks.
Do you use a consistent setup for most of the tattoos that you do? If so, what is the lineup of needle configurations for your liner and shader?
I do use a consistent setup for just about every tattoo I do. I always start with a 7 liner, but occasionally I’ll use a 9 or sometimes take a lighter to my 7 liner and spread the needles. Using my old school training at its finest. Then I always set up a tight 3 liner and a non-curved 9 mag.
I know that I use several brands of ink, depending on the color. Do you do the same, or do you stick to one brand?
I do actually stick to one brand. I was lucky enough to be sponsored by Eternal Ink about four years ago, and I haven’t strayed from them at all. I love how they work and how they heal. And they’ve treated me very well over the years so I’m very happy with their ink.
What is the standard amount of time that you spend preparing for a tattoo? From sketch to skin? Describe the process briefly in your own words.
I’d say on average I’ll take about an hour and a half to two hours on every sketch, just using red and blue colored pencils. Sometimes it takes a lot longer when my cats try to help me draw or if it’s a huge drawing. An average of two hours or so. I’m not really good with Photoshop, so I pretty much hand draw everything. So once my sketch is made, I make a crappy stencil and just kind of wing it. So it’s really not a dragged out process. Haha. One day I’ll figure Photoshop out, though. Soon, hopefully.
Is technology a good thing for the industry? Or, do you feel it has corrupted an ancient art? Is Photoshop the Devil?
I think just like with every industry, time will change everything. I respect every artist before me for all they accomplished and how they did it, and I also respect people who built houses without power tools but that seems crazy now, right? I think if the technology is there, then there is no reason not to utilize everything you can. Tattooing has become so diverse in what you can do with it, and I think it’s better to just have fun and welcome it all and see where it’s all going. I personally think it’s exciting. Maybe I’m weird, I don’t know.
I see a lot of up-and-coming tattooists that blatantly steal images and post them as their own. Do you have problems with tattooers stealing your designs?
I have seen that a million times and it has happened to me and many of my close friends, but I personally think that this is all just what happens when social networks become the number one source to see artists’ work. Sometimes, people don’t understand what custom work means and they’ll look at pieces we post online the same way they look at flash designs on the walls of a tattoo shop. I think most of the time these artists that copy things will post with confidence because they truly don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. I don’t agree with stealing peoples’ work but when someone steals mine, I know it might bum me out but I won’t lose sleep over it. I just hope that these artists eventually learn that what they’re doing is wrong.
Do you think Bounty is the best paper towel?
Bounty used to be. However, let’s just say right now, in my opinion, they’re not.
What inspires you and your art outside of the art and tattoo realm?
I’d have to say, I catch myself always looking up pictures taken of ocean creatures and coral and all that kind of fun stuff as well as the other extreme, space. I love Hubble telescope images and am obsessed with the colors and textures you can find in both types of photos. That’s definitely where I draw most of my inspiration from even though my work might not reflect it much.
Styles are always changing and are “in” and “out” of popularity.
What do you foresee as the next big trend in tattoo design?
Recently it seems that the Europeans are making a big splash in tattooing like they always have, but it seems that the new girl head-hand combos with fancy Victorian clothing and gems and pearls are really taking off. Everyone is seriously influenced by this Victorian art, and I personally think it’s amazing and I’m excited to see where it goes from there. Or, maybe it will die off and something new will come along. Who knows? But I like it.
What is your favorite band?
Does music play a role in your creativity?
My favorite band of all time is definitely Megadeth, but I listen to mostly Swedish and Norwegian metal nowadays. Music plays a huge role in my life. I have to listen to my music to do anything and I play guitar, bass, and drums so it’s a great outlet when drawing is just pissing me off. It’s strange, though, because I’ll listen to melodic death metal while I draw a pretty little diamond and rose so I don’t think I’m influenced by what I’m listening to but it always keeps my head in the right place. Somehow. Haha.
What is the thing you despise the most about the tattoo industry?
I won’t get into details, but sometimes tattoo conventions are worse than a high school cafeteria. So much drama and so many clicks and so much bullshit that people can’t seem to just deal with. I don’t know. It’s literally more dramatic than high school, sometimes, and it drives me crazy. I wish everyone could just be cool and have fun and relax a little. Do you feel that tattooists can make the transition from tattoos to legit fine arts?
Oh, absolutely. I personally think that some tattooers I know are some of the best modern-day painters I’ve ever seen. Some artists even agree that tattooing may not be their passion and that painting is. But the business of tattooing is so lucrative that why not do tattoos and make great money until you have enough of a crutch to slowly weed out tattooing and continue painting more regularly 12. What is your favorite beverage? It can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic.
Coca Cola. End of story.
What is the craziest tattoo that a client has ever asked for? It can be crazy as far as design or placement.
The craziest tattoo that I have done is slightly risque. You can edit this out but I’ll try and keep it as safe as possible. Haha. Long story made short. A middle-aged woman asked me to tattoo a butterfly on her. Sounds normal right? Nope. The body of the butterfly was already a part of her body. Between her legs. So I added wings to each side, but the lady had one more requirement and that was that the bottom wings had to nearly touch another part of her body. The part that men reluctantly grant access to their doctor when they are around 40-years-old. It was a weird day.