Paul Roberts Interview
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Paul Roberts and I am a Tattoo Artist, Fine Artist, Photographer, Sculptor, If it has to do with art, My name would probably appear somewhere within the situation.
Where are you currently tattooing?
I am currently tattooing at Art Addiction Tattoo Studio in Baton Rouge The lovely state capital of beautiful Louisiana
How long have you been tattooing for?
I’ve been tattooing for 8 years as of now
How did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing by getting many assorted tattoos. I had been getting tattooed by this guy name Rocky for a since I was 15. Then when I turned 18 and was entering the University of Lafayette in Louisiana to pursue a degree in Fine Arts, still getting tattooed by Rocky, he offered me an apprenticeship. I didn’t know what the hell I was getting into, never thought about tattooing as a career. I always knew I would be an artist of some sort, but tattooing? It just seem like it was out the question. He offered the job to me because of my background with art. He figured I knew lots of art terminology and had seen some of my art making him feel that I was the best candidate for the application. He was working at a shop called Ancient Art Tattoo owned by the infamous Jackie Gresham. He quit to open his own shop called Atomic Tattoo in which I jumped on board in 2002. At that time, I was a full time art student, working a part time job at Jo Ann Fabric and Crafts, and learning to tattoo. It was a very busy time in my life, but I manage to survive and become fairly successful.
What was the first tattoo you did? How did it turn out?
The first tattoo I created was three letters “FTW” on my friend Glenn, as apprentices, we all need test dummies. I was super nervous because for some reason all tattoo shops have the same group of people that hang around the shop all the time, and since I was doing my first tattoo, they all had to watch. The tattoo came out pretty good to say it was my technically my first, several minutes ago I was practicing on grape fruit. Nonetheless, I didn’t slaughter my poor friends hand.
Do you have a style of art you’re known for tattooing?
As of now, everything, I don’t think my work can be in one main category. I believe that I am pretty fluent in all styles from realism to old school.
What’s your least favorite style to tattoo?
My least favorite style of tattooing would probably some types of tribal. I think certain tribal tattoos should only be done within tribal islands or places in New Zealand. Tribal tattoos can have meaning, but from research and reading articles about that situation, when getting something tribal the guys in those tribes have to learn who you are by spending time with you, and pending upon what they gather through that experience, a tattoo takes shape.
If you could get a tattoo from any artist, who would you choose? What would you get?
There are various artist I like to get tattooed by and the list is pretty long, but for starters, and for anyone who wants to learn about great tattoo artist look up these guys. Bob Tyrell, Guy Atchison, Nikko, Mike Derives, Joshua Carlton, Brandon Bond and the whole F’ing crew at All or Nothing tattoo in ATL, Juan Puente, Kat Von D despite her show, Mike Kole, Robert Hernendez and Robert Pho, Hiroshyi III, Shige and that’s just a few of the top of my head, and as far as what would I choose, all these guys specialize in there on technique and subjectivity, so I wouldn’t put any restrictions on their work.
Tattoo artists seem to hear a lot of life stories. Is there one particular story that comes to mind that you can share with us?
My friend Gwen got me to tattoo her entire back tattooed in dedication to her husband who had drowned when he had went on fishing trip. He had been missing for 4 days before his body was found. That is definitely one of the more serious life stories behind a reason for someone getting body art.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve been asked to tattoo on someone?
One of the most interesting tattoos that comes to mind is when a customer ask me to an inch on his thumb. I ask what was the reason behind it, his reply was “I am an architect, I measure everything by the inch”. The weirdest tattoo I’ve even done was the word “mirror” backwards on a guys forehead. I ask him what was the reason, his reply was “Too let the demons out”… wow!
You had mentioned you came from a graffiti background. Do you use any techniques you’ve learned from graffiti in your tattooing?
I did a little graffiti prior to tattooing, me and a couple of my friend would get out late at night and go to the train yard in the hood or ghetto, and spray it up. Techniques learned from painting and spraying that transferred over to tattooing, depth, detail, putting colors together that others wouldn’t think of trying, doing and outline in color, or not using one at all, stenciling when necessary, just to name a few, I guess when I’m actually tattooing and I come across a certain piece, then I’ll pull out my technique book.
How long did you do graffiti for? Do you still get out to paint?
I did graffiti for 3 years before tattooing and while tattooing for another three, and I still paint, but not really out where vandalism charges would get my ass thrown in jail, I have a family, a wife and kids, and that’s not in the budget, [insert laughter] I do some projects at home show works at galleries locally and nationally as well, and yes, I do miss doing it illegally.
Aside from tattooing you also do fine art. What kind of art are you into doing?
Funny you ask, as a tattoo artist, people would think that I would like to paint skulls and all tattoo art, well of course I do. Aside from painting the same thing I am doing on peoples’ skin, I am really starting to get into sculpturing, and conceptual art, and not concept as cartoon characters japanimation or manga, or anime, now I do love all those cartoons and I respect the art, but I am talking about that kind of concept art. I also taught High School for a year, art of course, that was a world wind. Teaching art to High School students was crazy!
Do you have artists that are an influence in your tattooing and art?
[This is a continuation from my previous answers] Influences come from all tattoo artist that I would like to get tattoos from, and for fine art, these or for the readers to look up, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichenstien, Daido Moriyama, Araki, and several other fine artist that have made their mark in history.
Do you have a favorite artist?
I love lots of artist, my favorite comes in waves or genres, in order for me to answer this question thoroughly, you would have to ask by period, because I have favorites in each period, from Baroque and Renaissance, to Pop art, and Graffiti, I don’t think I can think of one artist that can be all of that. If so, he or she would be my favorite.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
More Fine Art, Tattoos, and Interviews and maybe my face on a cereal box.
Do you have any last words or comments to share with the Senses Lost readers?
If your into art, keep practicing, keep finding influences and always stay true to yourself. There will always be artist that seem 10xs better than you but art is what you make it, the story behind it is more beautiful than the image itself.