Sam Clark is a tattoo artist renowned for his illustrative pieces featuring beautiful women and mysterious tribesmen adorned in birds and animals that hark of ancient times. We caught up with Sam to talk about how he got into tattooing, what influences him, and his latest Stupid Krap release, 'Mystic Seer of the Sea.'
SK: Tell us about the image you’ve used for this current print release.
Sam Clark: Well, this latest piece I've created is called "Mystic Seer of the Sea". It's a representation of a Mystic woman as she looks into her crystal ball and how she can see and predict the future. I'm a big believer in spirituality and I know there's something greater in all of us. Some people find it in life, some people care more about what the latest reality TV is about. But I think there is more to life than we really will ever know.
SK: How long have you been tattooing and how did you get into the industry?
SC: I’ve been tattooing now for 6 years. It was a rocky road beginning my tattoo career, I nearly packed it in a couple of times to do airbrushing, but kept at it and finally got my foot in the door down at Dee Why and Manly Tattoo on Sydney's northern beaches.
Back when I started it wasn't as common as it is now and most tattooists in Sydney kept a tight lid on people entering the profession. I asked around and every shop I went into told me to f**k off. Pretty shattering when I was so pumped to learn, but now I look back and think that it was good to be rejected a couple times because it only made me more hungry and eager to learn. So I started researching everything about the art form, its roots and origins, the health and safety side, techniques, everything about the equipment and so on and eventually got my hands on a tattoo machine and after a couple months tattooing friends I'd created a worthy enough portfolio to show around. First shop I showed asked for me to start the next day. I was over the moon!
SK: Tell us about your studio and your creative process.
SC: Now, my wife Polly and I have resided in Noosa, QLD, and we started up a private studio in a remote location where we have to pick up clients by boat. It's quiet, peaceful and relaxing and I find I work best in this environment compared to the busy street shop life in Sydney.
I wake up every morning around 4am and draw the custom design for my client. They usually give me a rough idea or some images they've seen before and I create something totally original for them. It takes about 3-6 hours to design an image then I start tattooing around 10-12 for 4-10 hours.
SK: If there was a soundtrack to your artwork - what would it be?
SC: Rhythm of the Rain - Kno of Cunninlynguists
SK: Who are some of your influences?
SC: Alphonse Mucha, Bernini, Terry Ribera, Lu's Lips, Steve Moore, James Tex, Jeff Gogue, Claire Reid
SK: How do you think social media has helped your career?
SC: It's been incredible. If it wasn't for Facebook I wouldn't have been able to travel the world and be booked out in other countries. It's definitely widened the amount of people that can see and follow my work from every part of the globe. It's free and easy to upload images quickly which helps a lot. I can draw a picture and in seconds people on the other side of the planet can see what I've done. Instagram has also helped with my inspiration being able to see other artists work constantly uploaded every minute of the day.
SK: What is your art collection like?
SC: Pretty non-existent. I have collected a lot of prints over the years but have them filed away until we buy a place of our own. My favourite prints are from Terry Ribera. His illustration work is second to none.
SK: What do you have coming up for the rest of 2014?
SC: I have a busy year in 2014. I've taken a couple extra days off work but have filled them with doing commissions for Hurley and a couple other clothing brands and a couple side projects. One being an incredibly expensive hand made leather-bound sketchbook. My friend Pat Reynolds an upcoming incredible tattoo apprentice has sourced a book binder from QLD that has bound a bible for the pope and we'll be marketing them in an unconventionally interesting way. They'll be a collectors item, rare and hard to get a hold of, but something I'm sure most passionate art collectors and artists would love to have in their collection. Most people wouldn't have seen a book so well constructed so I'm really looking forward to getting them finished up. They're full of sketches from the last 3 years so they'd be a good reference for artists.
Other than that I'm looking forward to doing a little travel with my wife at the end of the year and a few more guest spots at some studios around Australia.
Thanks so much for the interview Ben and Stupid Krap and I hope everyone likes the print. I'm totally honoured! All the best.
Follow @samclarktattoos on Instagram
Check out more of Sam’s work on Tumblr
~ Interview by Ben Frost