[as interviewed by Ian Robert McKown 7.27.2012]
One thing I’ve noticed when looking at your work you seem to often focus on larger allegorical ideas. I see strife and struggle, and even what i feel looks to be a struggle with addiction. How much of your personal experiences to you bring to the table when working on a piece?
For me finding meaning is what i am looking for in my work. Especially that I tattoo all day and cosmetics is the primary focus. The work i do actually saved my life because i was living in a homeless shelter do to drug addiction. And was all i had left to utilize in order to get back on my feet . I don’t make a concise decision to tell a specific story with the work but it often does end up going back to subjects i feel need to be remembered or told. So i would have to say yes most of my personal experiences and even events that have happened to others come out in the work.I feel like my job as an artist is to share what i have seen in my life , almost like a diary of images in a way.
I’ve known you off and on for something like five or more years and you seem to be developing a looser, more suggestive style rather than some of your earlier works which were akin to some of the representational realist masters. Is this a conscious shift or are we seeing a natural progression?
To be honest i had some very good opportunities with a well known curator that has been extremely successful in the art market and museum market. He gave me a chance to put a body of work together for a show i believe in April of 2009 but insisted that i approach it in a more representational manner.And looking back at it i am glad i did it because it helped me to approach my work differently. Its like there are two sides to the art world the loser work artist believe that realism is scholastic and lacks emotion. I was told that artist that only work in a realistic manner is almost like there snuggy blanket because they are more concerned about what people will think about there work rather then having there own vision..Then the opposite would be the loser guys just suck and they cant really paint and all that.So in the end i got to see both sides of the story and came to the conclusion that even tho i know that if i wanted to i can paint women’s faces with lines all over them and horror portraits and the tattoo world would support me and my name would get out more but i choose to develop my own vision.So what your seeing is the process of me trying to find my own vision.I am in no way saying that horror work ect is not good or doesn’t take talent to do and i will do more of it but i am just saying thats not my vision.
Speaking of the Masters, i know from out conversations you have a great deal of respect and love for early and modern masters. Care to cite some of your influences?
Rubens, John Singer Sergeant even tho he was slightly later, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Holbein, Rembrandt; and like in the tattoo world there are so many others that are extremely talented but just never got mentioned.
Id think that we an both agree that in tattooing we are seeming many old masters techniques being employed to a high degree of skill, yet in the contemporary are world there are less and less artists looking towards the past for guidance. Thoughts?
I look at is like you have a musician that studies for years and becomes a master.In the end know one ever even hears about him but do you know who they did here about? Its the druggy that fell over half way thru the song.Thats the guy there going to buy his album not the guy with the talent. The world is in chaos so why shouldn’t the art be.We live in a know body gets left behind approach and i think its just easier to perform a jerker then a master piece.Take the average guy walking thru the met museum looking at masters thats not an artist, he’s saying to himself thats a picture of lincoln thats a picture of washington and not really understanding how much work is involved to bring something to that level.I think people are bored with that subject matter and are constantly seeing images in every way shape and form via Facebook ,movies,ect Times are different back then everyone got together and went to see the paintings on a saturday night all these mages come so easily now so most people overlook it all in my opinion. It almost seems like the contemporary art world is driven buy artist that are just trying to shock and don’t really care about technique ect.. But mostly back then everything was structured artist couldn’t get crazy because of the religious influences ect. Know its just chaos in general and people would benefit from looking at the masters for more then just painting i think for living also.
How much has working with brush on canvas helped your tattooing? Are you seeing a bit of cross-inspiration, or do you keep the two as seperate animals?
It influences greatly and it does become stressful and very limiting to attempt to create works on skin equal to the canvas.On skin there is just way to many things that have to align in order for the tattoo to be successful. The person has to have the correct skin they have to be patient they have to not talk your ear off they have to trust you they have to be willing to come back so you can finish and a bunch of other things. So yes it helped me but its also stressful trying to achieve the same quality.
There is a growing movement amongst tattooers where we are seeing a more open mind towards teaching one another fine art and non-tattoo related art. How do you feel about this shift given you stared tattooing was a much more closed community?
I definitely started in a closed type situation and with all of these tv shows there are way to many people that maybe drew a cool picture of eddie from iron maiden in art class that think they should tattoo. As fare as teaching fine art i see that as a positive.For me i would teach someone art a lot faster then tattooing and believe they should be taught art way before they think about even tattooing not the other way around. Every day i get emails on Facebook asking if i can teach them but when you look at there profile you see no art they have done so again going back to the know body gets left behind stuff.
What kind of materials do you prefer to work with? (including paint types, brush types and surface types)
I like many types earlier i used the air brush allot then pastels.Lately i have been enjoying watercolor also.I use Fabriano cold press paper and Holbein paints.As fare as the oil painting i like both gesso board and canvas also.I never got to technical with the types of canvas i believe for the most part its alabama primed canvas that i stretch myself and gesso board that i order thru Dick Blick.The paints are a mixture of rembrant,some winsor and some holbein.I like the full transparent paints for creating out of focus edges. I use a combination of colicky sable brushes which are round for more detailed work some larger filberts and flats also and really like the royal langnickel brushes they have really long hairs and create some really nice edges for alla prima style work.For a medium liquid is good although i paint more directly lately and don’t glaze much and i really like Gamsol its the only one for me that doesn’t smell at all and can be also used as a medium.
Have you had much experience with the fine art community? Any plans for shows in the near future?
Like i mentioned before i have had some experience with the fine art community. I have done a pretty good amount of shows to date which can be extremely stressful when you tattoo all day but i do love the learning experience that comes with seeing all your work at the show in a different light and saying to myself ok so were do i go from here.I will also be having a show on sep. 8 at sacred gallery located in Soho in Manhattan.
Looking back at yor earlier works, what do you see as the biggest shifts you’ve made?
The biggest shift is to paint more directly and rely on making the correct shape size color value brush stroke rather then take a dry brush and blend everything.I feel like its closer to tattooing because we don’t have the lugtury of blending our tattoos with a brush..Along with really trying to to not be concerned about what i think other people want to see.
What can we expect to see from you in the next 5 to 10 years?
My goal is to develop my vision on canvas and then bring it to skin.I would also like to make some videos to share some of what i learned thru the years would be nice.
(B.Murphy Fine art on skin)
Third Dimension Studio
18 village center
East Stroudsburg P.A
Third Dimension Studio
18 village center
East Stroudsburg P.A