The Artist Spotlight this month beams down onto R2, the newest resident artist to the join the Funhouse tattoo family. R2’s mastery in developing illustrative, graphically inspired tattoos is a fusion of intertextuality and deep rooted meanings. We sat down with R2 and asked him some of the burning questions to get ourselves acquainted. Lets welcome R2!
Question: Every artist has gone on a journey to get to this moment in time. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
““I’ve been drawing longer than I can remember. I found my first passion in drawing from comics and animation. Always being interested in all the visual media. My first interest in tattoos came about from seeing them on characters in movies or in games. The ones with marked skin always carried a fascination in my eyes. As I got older and met a tattoo artist, I was always picking his brain about what is possible with the craft. Then once I started getting tattooed with my friends I was the one drawing our pieces in the beginning. The artist asked if I’d ever thought about getting into tattooing and explained the apprenticeship process to me. From there I dedicated all my time to working on tattoo-related drawings and inquiring at shops every chance I could. I walked into Big Deluxe Tattoo in Utah one fateful July in 2005. I started my apprenticeship a week later and never looked back! From there I learned and then traveled the country and overseas. Constantly growing and adapting with the ever-changing styles I came across and honing my own. I moved back to California a little over a year ago and found my way down to San Diego living and through mutual friends began my work at Funhouse just a few weeks ago. Its great to be here!”
Question: Besides tattooing, is there another medium you use as a creative outlet?
““Aside from tattooing. I let the creativity come out through writing and playing music. Mostly guitar, but I dabble on the mandolin and concertina as well. Another creative passion is the circus arts. What started as a fun way to work out developed into quite the drive to perform. I’ve been a stilt performer at music festivals, performed aerial silks at the SLC Comic-con, and became Utah’s first Cyr wheel teacher for some time. I’ve worked at a flying trapeze school and performed flying trapeze as well. Its one of those things that gives me a sense of fulfillment like no other.”
Question: A lot of artists use certain tattoo styles to categorize their work, do you find that your able to do the same thing or that you work between the definitions of the styles?
““I find the definitions of styles keeps getting more complex as the art form evolves. Being well-rounded in many styles it makes it a little tricky to categorize. But the style that I enjoy doing the most I would describe as a graphic illustration style. I use dynamic line-work like you might see in a comic book or a pen sketch, while having a broad color pallet and using dynamic lighting. Other styles I enjoy are color interpretations of the cosmos. Abstract organic shapes, and heavy black work with geometry.”
Question: As one of the newest resident artists at Funhouse Tattoo: International Guesthouse shop, what do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of working here as opposed to other shops you have worked at in the past?
““So far I’ve really enjoyed the warm reception from the other artists, which goes a very long way. There’s been a few places I’ve worked where there are just some people you don’t get along with and it can make the hours we put into a day seem rather long. The layout and style of the shop is great, the whole space is just really well put together. This is my first time working in a beach town, so I’ve been enjoying that kind of attitude from artists and clients alike.”
Question: When a new client approaches you about their tattoo idea, what are some of the first things you do to get to the core of their concept?
““One of the first things we need to do when starting with a new piece is get on the same page concept wise. I’ll ask questions necessary to make sure that my mind is catching up to their vision. Also to ensure that I’m the most capable artist for what they’re after. Once that’s set I like to brainstorm possibilities! What stylistic elements can we accentuate. What objects can we use to make the design fit and flow. Then comes the fun of drawing it all up!”
Question: It seems that you are very versatile with your tattoos and can shift from style to style. How do you think you’ve been able to cultivate such a cohesive style despite utilizing different stylistic techniques?
““I’ve been able to diversify so well as a result of my upbringing in the industry. Being educated in so many drawing styles already, its a matter of learning what I can and cannot that translates to tattooing. I’ve studied as many art forms and styles as possible throughout my whole life. Working in busy and diverse shops helps keep me on my toes with anything that might come in. I spend a lot of my time that I’m not actively drawing in study of anything that inspires me. As long as it looks good to me, then I have something to learn. Another aspect of speaking with clients is suggesting styles they may not be aware of but would work wonders for the piece they want. All of those things combined with so many years of tattooing experience makes that diversity possible.”
Question: What are your top three favorite video games of all time and why?
““Top three of all time?! That’s a heavy decision. In no particular order, we’ll start with the MASS Effect Trilogy. Its a sci-fi role playing series set in our own future. The storyline is unique and complex. The character development is deep giving you a sense of familiarity that’s rare to achieve. If the loss of a character can make you sad for days, they’ve done a good job. Artistically, its inspiring! The alien races, the environments, all the little details have so much to learn from. Next up, Final Fantasy 7. Aside from being the RPG that changed the playing field for all games to come, it’s storyline was one of the most complex and compelling stories I’d ever played. Again, its artistic style and innovation ranks it among some of the greatest games ever made. Don’t even get me started on the incredible soundtrack! Lastly, while it may not be of all time, but it certainly feels like it right now, the new God of War. What a cinematic and gaming masterpiece. One of the largest draws for me to gaming is the artistic effort that goes into these things. This one is a trip through Viking lore where gods battle each other through wildly imagined realms. Emotional storylines. A quest for peace and the battle that ensues. Go play it!”
Question: Being a professional artists comes with a fair amount of challenges. How do you balance your career as a tattoo artists and all the other aspects of your life?
““Luckily when your work coincides with what you love, it doesn’t all feel like work. So, while I may have to spend many hours of my home life working on drawings for a client. That process of collecting reference, laying it out in front of me. Setting up the drawing space, and going to work, to me it feels much like you’d imagine Indiana Jones pulling out all his clues, hunting more leads, and questing for that final goal. Its a fun process that I enjoy. Even at my busiest I still always make time for fun in between. Whether it’s playing games or my newest hobby of social axe throwing. There are enough hours in the day if you manage it well.
Question: Where can people learn more about your artwork and what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
““The easiest way to learn more about me and my artwork is through my instagram page. @wasabijetpack (named after two of my favorite things). I do accept DMs there but the easiest way to get ahold of me would be via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or simply by stopping by the shop to chat!”
You can visit R2’s artist page to see all of his latest and greatest works on body art and to reach out if you’d like to schedule a free consultation.