Q. Where are you from and how did you get interested in art?
A. I was born and raised in Aotearoa (New Zealand), in a family of artists where creativity was always encouraged.
I went to art school and tried to go the fine art route, but found that my preference was for the world of comic books, tattoos, club flyers and graffiti.
Q. How did you become a tattooist?
A. I was given my first break by Mark Lee of Realistic Dermagraphics, on the Portobello Road in London, in the early 90s. I went on to do further apprenticeship with eX de Medici at Deus Ex Machina in Canberra, Australia.
Q. What do you enjoy about tattooing?
A. Tattooing is the most fascinating and challenging medium I've ever worked in. I like the collaborative, personal, sincere nature of tattooing - it avoids the crass marketplace motivation of commercial graphic art and the ego tripping of institutionalised fine art. You get to use your artistic abilities, not just to flaunt them for their own sake or to enable some greed merchant to make a huge pile of money, but to make someone else happy and add a little colour to their journey. Each tattoo is a marker of the passage of time, a meditation on impermanence, a funky hand-made one-off in a world of slick, computerised mass production.
Q. Who are your influences or favourite artists?
A. Mark Lee, eX de Medici, the Inner Vision crew, Los Bros Hernandez, Dan de Carlo, Alex Grey, Mike Mignola, Masami Teraoka, "Ed the Happy Clown", "V for Vendetta", the Dadaists, Buddhist art and iconography, Club Kooky, Gurlesque, Nina Hagen.
Q. What type of tattoo do you most enjoy doing?
A. Anything graphic, meaningful, unique and personal.
Q. What saying do you try to live your life by?
A. "This too shall pass".... useful for every occasion, particularly useful when getting tattooed!
Joe has been tattooing for 6 years. He was brought up in a creative environment and having studied art formally he is fluent in most artistic practices. He prefers to custom draw all his tattoos feeling that every piece should be made new for the client, whether that's on paper beforehand or straight onto the skin. He likes to draw inspiration from his other passions of skateboarding, music, outsider art and traditional tattoo movements. Joe's unique approach has him focusing on bold, clear pieces that throw back to old school tattoo style but can comfortably move between most styles. Always willing to work out a solution for your needs.
Flex is an award-winning painter and print-maker whose accomplished artistic background contributes to her skill as a tattooist. Her talents extend across a range of styles including traditional, neo-traditional, black work and black and grey. Flex is well-known for her great rapport with clients and she genuinely enjoys collaborating in the creative process to achieve outstanding custom work.
Cliffe's work is influenced by the Japanese masters and western artists whose large-scale compositions are designed around the body's natural flow lines and complemented by physical movement. His preferred styles are totemic, personal power symbols, Asian-inspired dragons and anything featuring water motifs. Cliffe appreciates the surreal idea of transforming the body into a living mural reflecting an individual's tastes. In Cliffe's own words, "To be tattooed is to put a little part of your inner-self onto your outer skin. It is I feel, the signature of the soul."
Cliffe was born in Sydney and has lived and travelled extensively throughout north America and Europe. His early artistic endeavours of drawing 'on' his school books rather than working 'in' them soon led to what has become a rewarding 27-year career as a tattoo artist. Cliffe began tattooing in 1985, starting his early work in Brisbane, Queensland before meeting the legendary Bill Phillips, who helped the young artist find his feet.
Cliffe went on to work with John Nash in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, undertaking a traditional tattoo apprenticeship in a busy 'sink or swim' studio. In the early 1990s Cliffe attended various conventions across the United States, tattooing through Los Angeles, San Francisco and Reno before spending four years in Canada working alongside the world-renowned John 'The Dutchman' in Vancouver. Upon returning to Australia in 1995, Cliffe moved to Sydney and opened Inner Vision Tattoo in Sydney's inner city arts and design precinct Surry Hills.