Top five interviews with Denver tattoo artists
For the past six months, Westword has been talking to tattoo artists around town, exploring the talent and diversity of the Mile High ink scene. While there are different styles and philosophies, most artists agree that succeeding in the tattoo industry requires passion, creativity and hard work. Here are five of our favorite interviews and the artists' thoughts on the art of tattooing.
Tattoo by Sandi Calistro
Westword: As someone who does fine art as well as tattoos, obviously besides the canvas, what are some differences? Do you have to be in a different mindset to do each?
Sandi Calistro: Yeah. I'd say the first thing I think of when you ask that is you're definitely catering to their thought of their design. When you're doing your own canvas piece of artwork, you're generating your original idea from your own head, but when you're doing it on a person you're collaborating with them almost. You're taking their idea and your vision and combining the two, so that's definitely a huge difference, just in the artwork itself. And then your tools are extremely different; you're using a machine, and the weight of the tool is a huge difference. And just the application is weird, making someone bleed and having someone in pain is a little weird. I have a harder time phasing that out than some people do. If someone's in pain I'm like, "Oh, are you okay?" But other than that, it really is the canvas, doing a piece of artwork on a canvas, versus the blood and the tattoo machine and a human being, you know?
What would you say are some challenges to being a tattoo artist?
Andy Canino: Trying to continue to grow. Trying not to stagnate. I've worked around people in the past who have lost their passion for tattooing. And it's not a challenge for me to maintain passion, but it is a challenge to not get comfortable -- to continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to study different types of tattooing, the stories behind certain styles like Japanese or American or otherwise. Just continuing to constantly feed your brain and just live tattooing. You have to sacrifice a lot of stuff to do that. When kids are first getting into tattooing, I'd say, "You probably want to just dump your boyfriend or girlfriend right now, because you're gonna live this." Sometimes that's a challenge for a lot of people; it's sometimes a challenge for me. Sometimes I'll take my focus away from tattooing and put it into a hobby, then I need to reevaluate what I'm doing and put it back into tattooing because it's the most important thing to me.
Continue reading for the rest of the Top Five Q&As.
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