Hi Owen, thank you for taking some time out to let us learn more about you and your amazing work.
Thank you guys for coming to hang out!
How did you first get started in tattooing?
I’ve been tattooing a little over four years now I think, I got started the same way as allot of people, through an apprenticeship in a local shop, then onto a local street shop for my first real year of tattooing. I was trying to do anything that came through the door and at that time I loved everything traditional! I had some realistic portraits in my art portfolio but Portsmouth is very traditional heavy, so I moved up north to improve my black and grey.
What were you doing before starting a career in tattooing?
I was playing and touring in bands before I started tattooing, it’s surprising how many people who have a similar back story, coming from the music world to tattooing. I think the attraction is working a craft. I love how quickly tattooing progresses. mastering it is nearly unobtainable, that’s pretty exciting!
Have you always been blessed with a form of artistic ability?
Have I always been artistic? I don’t think so.
I guess music is a kind of art form but in terms of visual art like drawing and painting I’ve just set myself goals and tried to work hard to improve as best I can. I’m a pretty goal oriented person.
It appears as though you’re a travelling artist, constantly on the move. How does this work out for you? Is it hard to consistently find clients and adapt to ever changing scenery?
So I think I’ve been on the road now for around a year now, or just shy of a year. It’s been allot of work for sure but having a touring background with music has definitely helped.
Usually when I go to a new country or location, I spend a few months promoting my guest spot to try and get my name out there as much as possible. It’s really humbling to get to travel to areas where you’re unknown and introducing people to your work for the first time.
There’s been more than a few nightmare airport situations but you just take it as it comes, everything always works out in the end, and once your settled and tattooing, it’s easy to forget all the drama! No set home at the moment, just hotels and guest spots!
Through your travels it’s safe to say you’ve worked with some of the best. Do you feel that these experiences are helping you grow as an artist?
I’ve been so lucky to get to work alongside the people that I have and to have been offered the spots I’ve worked in. It’s great meeting artists I look up to and finding out they’re just as hungry to better themselves as I am! I work pretty long hours so I’m almost glad when I have a free day now to get to watch people work.
What was your style like when you first started? Did you focus on black and grey realism from the get-go?
My style has done a complete 180 since I started tattooing! From bright colourful neo traditional to dark black and grey.
I feel like I was trying to imitate allot of neo traditional artists in my first year and make my work more ‘tattoo’ looking, but I was always more comfortable drawing realistic artwork, so realism became my main focus.
I think tattoos should always reflect the personality of the artist and I think allot of that personality comes from staying true to what makes you happy. Right now, for me, this is realism!
Being so talented at black and grey, I know many artists who prefer to stay in their ‘comfort zone’ and just do what they do best. Do you plan on mixing things up in future? Perhaps some colour tattoos?
I’m trying to visit at least one gallery or art show at every guest spot at the moment, just to try and better my art knowledge. I’d like to do more colour realism work later this year and getting to study so many artists and paintings is really helping me to lay a foundation for that. I’d love to do mostly colour portraits in the future. Especially colour Disney portraits.
A quick look at your portfolio and you can see you have tattooed a lot of Disney characters. Are you a big Disney fan yourself?
Huge Disney fan! It’s become more of an obsession at this point! Especially pin collecting. Don’t get me started on that!
There’s something really satisfying about getting to tattoo Disney and Pixar portraits. I usually have the movie playing whilst I’m working and I’m just as excited to be tattooing as the customer is! If I can transition my animated pieces from black and grey to colour this year, I think that will be an exciting new direction for me.
Do you have any favourite Tattoo Artists?
Favourite tattoo artists? That’s hard to narrow down! I’m finding new people daily on Instagram who blow my mind!
Sarah Miller is one of my favourites. If you see her work healed in real life, it’s something else! She’s also a really hard worker which I admire.
Steve Wimmer has been constantly flawless for years, as has Dmitriy Samohin and Boris.
Steve butcher is a beast, obviously and Timmy B is probably the texture king right now!
There’s far too many to name tho! Basically anybody who’s personality speaks through their pieces!
Who are your biggest inspirations?
inspiration wise I’m big Rembrandt fan. Seeing his work in person at the MET last year blew my mind.
Davis Kassan, Drew Merrit and David grey for their portraits and Irina Cumberland, Mike Dargas for textures. They’re all amazing artists!
What has been the hardest moment in your career thus far, and what has been your favourite?
Traveling full time is always a hard thing to do. Living out of hotels, eating as best you can and catching up on sleep on flights.
The hardest moment has been getting used to being out of my comfort zone. Every shop set up is different, every shop has a different vibe and way of working so I’ve been learning to go with the flow. Appreciating the little things, like your supply order being delivered on time or a hotel on the same street as the shop! (Trust me, after finishing at 2am with no uber around, that 30 minute walk home isn’t so great!)
What does the future hold or have planned for Owen Paulls?
At the moment I’m working towards my u.s work visa that will allow me to live and work permanently in the u.s. It’s kinda scary with everything going on politically there at the moment but it’s become a second home. And… they have two Disney parks!
My aim is to reside in Denver by the summer.
Finally, How would someone go about trying to get a tattoo from yourself if you’re always on the move haha?
So there’s a few ways people can get in touch,
Through my email – email@example.com
Or by following me on Instagram – @owenpaulls
I post as many tour dates as I can fit in my bio so take a look, see if there’s any close by and shoot me a message!
Thank you for your time again Owen, all the best with your future move!
Interview for TattooFan Magazine UK by Tim Drummond
Photos from Owen Paulls social media.
Owen Paulls Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/owenpaulls/?hl=en