A friend turned me on to the work of Brad Stevens before I moved to New York, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. It only makes sense that we interviewed this vegan heartthrob/new addition to New York Adorned before anyone else got to him!
TS: Five things the tattoo world at large should know about you, Mr. Brad Stevens?
Brad: I don’t want the tattoo world to know anything about me besides what my tattoos look like, but I suppose these days people have to have a lot invested on your internet personality to be interested in getting tattooed by you, so I’ll play along. Vegan male, 26, seeks woman (not girl), preferably vegan, with career, to fall in love and get knocked up.
TS: If you had to pick your top five classic Americana tattoo designs, what would they be?
Brad: Woman (not girl), rose, skull, spider, butterfly.
Brad: It’s an oxymoron, “neo-traditional”? In Back to the Future 2 they figured we’d have flying cars by now, but I guess we realized that wheels were the shit the whole time, ya know? Fuck flying cars.
TS: This brings us to what I think might be the most important question: What kind of work are you interested in doing?
Brad: Lately I’m torn in opposite directions. I love the way that really old traditional classic tattoos look–like they were drawn as simple as possible, with limited reference. I just imagine some old fuck who couldn’t draw being like, “I saw a picture of a tiger once” then drawing that shit… what’s cooler than that? Besides that, the stuff looks sick ALWAYS. It looked cool in 1930, it looks cool now. It was drawn for tattooing: simple.
But I also see what’s being done with Japanese tattoos. I see a timeless style, but this one is a little more accepting of being elaborated on. So really I want to be two totally different tattooers, I just want to be selective over which direction I’m moving which piece. Simpler for traditional Americana, and more detail in Japanese.
TS: A few weeks ago a piece was posted on a fairly prominent New York shop’s blog regarding tattoo websites posting tattooers’ work without asking permission first. What’s your stance on that?
Brad: It sucks to work hard on drawing something for someone and tattooing it well just to be bit off or even traced. I know the internet is all about a free exchange of information and tattooing is all a bunch of pirates who never really learned how to draw, but come on guys. Tattoo blogs need to ask permission at least. How successful their blog is depends on how hard someone else is working, at least ASK if you can share the images. There’s nothing worse than seeing your work on the internet pulled off poorly and the person who did it says, “Chill, I gave you credit”… yeah maybe after 10 or 20 of your friends said “OMG U R so tallented” and thought it was “siqq”. In a generation where everyone thinks they are a tattooer I guess the ones who actually try need to be a little more careful with who is seeing it.
TS: Let’s talk a bit about your own tattoos. Ones you love, ones you hate? I think you’ve been quoted as saying you have “no bad tattoos”. That’s a pretty lofty comment in comparison to some of the pieces most tattooers receive/give themselves either prior to or at the beginning of their career.
Brad: Well, I have some intentionally bad tattoos done by my friends who don’t know how to tattoo, but that’s a recent thing. I was always a little paranoid of what I chose to put on my body. I didn’t get tattooed in the 90’s and I’ve never been a bargain hunter, so a lot of the tattoos I have are great. Grez did my first tattoo when I was 19–can’t really go wrong with that. My left arm is all by Grez, my right is in progress by Chris O’Donnell, chest by Seth Ciferri, stomach by Boltz and too many great artists on my leg to name. But I love my tattoos.
TS: Anywhere in New York aside, what are some of your favorite places to tattoo out of?
Brad: LTW in Barcelona, and Ink Addiction in Verona.
TS: What kind of art do you make outside of tattooing? Has tattooing influenced the type of art you create? (i.e. pieces designed with the potential to be tattooed or that will translate easily to a tattoo in mind)
Brad: I’m all over the place with my painting. Sometimes I paint in a tattoo-able way, sometimes I don’t. I don’t really think about it, I just do what I want. I stopped taking commissions for painting because if I find the time to paint, I’m doing it for myself–I don’t want to have to worry about someone else’s specifications.
TS: Let’s do some quadruplets. Four amazing tattooers you have work from, Four you’d like work from and four you think everyone else should get work from.
Brad: I have work from…
I’d like work from:
Who I think people should get tattooed by:
Andre Malcom – If you don’t know, I feel sorry for you.
Claire Vuillemot – Claire is a secret. Find her at Fun City.
Mina Aoki – Apprentice at Daredevil, my best friend in the world.
Steve Boltz- OK, everyone already knows about Boltz… but he just does that shit right.
TS: What kind of projects & travel plans do you have for the rest of 2011? Planning anything in particular, just in case the world really does end in 2012?
Brad: I’m not really planning any trips right now. Not saying things wont happen, but I love summer in New York City, and I’m gearing up for my new home… As of June 1st I’m working at NY Adorned. I’m going to miss my family at Daredevil, and I’d like to thank Michelle Myles and Brad Fink for the opportunity to spend 3 great years there. I’m excited to spend my summer here in NY with the amazing crew of NYA, it’s the logical next step for me.
TS: What conventions do you frequent? Any other travel plans?
Brad: I’m doing the Rochester, NY convention later this summer with the lovely Marina Inoue, and probably the Barcelona convention in October.