'I Try And Put Everything I See Into My Work': Tattoo Artist Mark Judges


Written by Fin Murphy
10 Friday 10th March 2017

We catch up with the London-based creative to discuss his beginnings, working in an 'oversaturated' field and more. Check out his Instagram here.

How did you find your way into tattooing?

I was always just really drawn to it. It's one of those things, the opportunity came along and it suddenly made perfect sense. I've always painted and illustrated, but tattooing seemed special; you get to make something with, and for, one person. Working as an illustrator or designer, the audience always seemed really abstract. I like meeting people, seeing how they connect with what I’m doing.

Over time, how do you think your style - if at all - has changed?

I think your style is always developing, tattooing is like anything, fashions come and go. It can be tempting to jump on the latest thing, and obviously you’re dependent on customers so you need to tap into some kind of zeitgeist. I think the style of tattooing I do is obviously ubiquitous these days, but it does feel, to me, very local. I’m lucky enough to work with some of the originators of the style, it's from here.

In the same way tribal tattoos represent the fauna and flora of the island or the bright colourful sun soaked tattoos of California reflect their environment, I think my tattoos feel local. London is grey, the people here are complicated under the surface. I try and put as much underlying drama, romance, history and humour into my tattoos as possible.

How do you feel about working in the field at a point when its popularity is so high?

It seems every field is oversaturated, but that's fine with me, I’m lucky enough to live in the centre of it. Historically, people living in Leamington Spa or Great Yarmouth or wherever had no connection with loads of exciting culture, now they’re involved. The internet let them in, which is great! But, everything is saturated; on the one hand, it's hard to be excited by anything in the same way as when information was scarce, but on the other it's killed some of the rockstar culture of tattooing, because everyone's a tattooer! Either way, it's happened and it's like bemoaning the loss of dinosaurs or the pound note; it's not going to change anything, so embrace the positives.

What influences do you draw on the most in your work?

Everything, western tattooing is about stealing everything. Traditional western designs were taken from everywhere; kids books, lithographs, paintings. I try and put everything I see, that can be appropriated, into my work. If it strikes a chord with me, I know someone's going to connect with it.

Do you ever feel constrained by your style, influences? How do you challenge yourself?

I'm still so new to tattooing that it's all a challenge. Plus, I obviously make tattoos that aren’t my designs, for people who just walk in and want some abstract full colour scribble and that's fun to work out too. I think your style is obviously a reflection of yourself, all my interests go in there. Obviously there are times in life when I’m are bored with myself, but new influences come in all the time to keep you evolving. This week I’m really interested in obscure and incomprehensible proverbs, Jacques-Louis David's paintings and the new J Hus track. It all goes in to what I’m doing somehow.

Have you got any overarching goals with tattooing or taking it as it comes? 

I can’t say really, I’m so new to it. Just to keep making work.

Sounds good to us. Cheers Mark!

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