Creativity & Ink: Azarja van der Veen, Shotsie’s Tattoo, Wayne NJ (www.azarjavanderveen.com) talks to Tatts about creativity and ink.
Tatts: Why did you become a tattoo artist?
Azarja: I became a tattooer because I wanted to make people feel the way I felt after I got my first tattoo. I loved it so much & couldn’t believe that it was mine. It was amazing to me how much of a difference a little ink in my skin made. I suddenly felt completely comfortable in my skin & like anything was possible. Right then, in 2004, I decided that I wanted to spend my time trying to make other people feel even a fraction of that happiness that I felt.
T: who was your mentor?
A: The incredible Shotsie Gorman was my mentor; I apprenticed under him & really learned to ropes. Although, I learned equally as much, if not more, from all my fellow co-workers at Shotsie’s Tattoo. I’m very lucky to have been surrounded by very talented artists my entire career. The guys I work next to continually inspire me to work hard & never stop trying to improve myself.
T: you’re also a model, does that effect your career as tattooer?
A: My 2 careers often intersect, but rarely ever adversely affect each other.
Occasionally I get someone who thinks that I’m not a worth while artist because I’m a model. But you can’t change everybody’s mind. Mostly my modeling provides another outlet for my artist expression. And my tattooing clients seem to really enjoy it. Especially because I do a lot of modeling for tattoo related products or clothing companies- so it’s a great cross promotion for me.
T: do you have a signature style?
A: My style is a little bit of everything. I grew up punk rock, then got into pin up modeling, and now I’m a bit older so I like looking classy. If you put all those things in a blender, and then add a little pink, you’d get my style. lol
T: is there a design you would love to ink and did not do yet?
A: I’m actually just about to start on this half sleeve of half dead/skeleton hummingbirds that I drew up almost a year ago. I’ve been dying to put it on someone, and finally found a taker. I’m so excited! (t: and we will show the result!)
T: About the ink community: what’s changed –and do you like it?
A: I would say the biggest change in the tattoo community is the visibility of it all.
We used to be a small counter-culture- But ever since all of theses tattoo themed tv shows came out, we’re huge pop culture. It’s kind of strange to have something that you’ve loved and been so deeply involved in for so long suddenly become all the rage. But I’m sure the trend will eventually pass, and all the people who were there before will still be there after. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really mind the popularity of it all- in fact, those programs have educated a lot of people and shown them what good artwork looks like. But it’s also influenced a lot of people into getting tattoos that haven’t fully been thought through, and that they may end up regretting them one day. Hence the trend of it all.
T:how important is planning of artwork for you?
A: For me, planning is everything. My brain works in a different way than most, so I need to have an idea of the end point before I’m able to begin a drawing. I want to know how everything is going to connect to itself and to the other work or skin around it. And also, what the person may get in the future around it. You don’t want to “paint yourself into a corner” so to speak.
T: do you feel you need to maintain your skin or a tattoo?A: Very much so. I put on sunblock every day as soon as I get out of the shower. Every day I see tattoos that are only 3 or 4 years old, and they look like they’re 10 or 15 years old because people refuse to protect them. Chances are you paid a lot of money for the tattoo, and it’s going to be there for a while, so put on some sunblock!And I make sure to use a good moisturizer at least once a day, usually twice. The better the condition of your skin, the better you and your tattoo will age.
TATTOO BOOSTER is one of my favorite products, because it makes my skin feel so soft! I usually put in before I go out at night, to make my tattoos look their brightest.
I definitely recommend Tattoo Booster to anyone who wants their tattoos to look their best. But I would also recommend it to anyone who wants their skin to feel great- tattooed or not. The oil soaks in quickly, and instantly transforms your dull skin. I feel like I’m glowing after I put it on- and my skin always feels so soft.
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