We all know that tattooing has experienced huge change and progression in recent years, with popularity and perception of the art wildly different now to what it was even a decade ago. New direction needs new leaders, and as part of the next generation, Victor J Webster of Two Hands Tattoo is helping lead the charge.
How did you get into tattooing?
Both of my parents were pretty unconventional artists, so I was always encouraged to draw and explore my ideas. I will always remember the first time I saw pacific island tattooing, I must have been five or six years old; it really stuck with me and I think that was the moment I knew I wanted to be tattooed. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I considered it as a career. Honestly I thought it was amazing that someone would pay me to draw on them. It was hard to find an apprenticeship, I didn’t exactly fit the mould of tough guy tattooist. Six years ago I was fortunate enough to apprentice at ‘Moko Ink’ in Grey Lynn, my teachers were Inia Taylor, Croc Coulter, and Calen Paris.
What do you enjoy about it?
There is something magical about tattooing, it has a strong energy and is deeply rooted in our history. I love the way we can permanently change our bodies to communicate ideas, it’s very ritualistic. I also love the relationships I get to build with my customers, it’s very much a collaborative process.
Tell us a bit about your recent travels?
I have just returned from 6 months away. I traveled around India for 3 months. India is very intense, I think it’s the only place in the world you can love and hate all at once. I miss how alive it made me feel. I did some free tattoos in Varanasi, it seemed like the right thing to do in the holy city. I then worked my way around Europe for a few months. I tattooed at ‘Into You’ in London for a few weeks before a month of travel around Spain visiting family. I then had a bit of time in France before tattooing in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
Who are some of your idols in the tattoo world… and where do you draw inspiration from?
I try to distance myself from what is going on in the tattoo world; not because I don’t like it, but for me, crossover is important. It is fun to search for new forms of inspiration, it can come from anywhere . In saying that, there are certain tattooists who have an amazing approach to the body. Tomas Thomas, Alex Binnie, Guy Le Tattooer, and Croc Coulter. I love nature, pattern, simplification and repetition. I am also inspired by early modernist abstract painting and Japanese aesthetics.
What are your plans for this year?
I have a few travel plans for 2013, I need to make a trip to Rarotonga to visit one of my teachers and get tattooed. I am also planning a trip to Japan for October/November. I have visited a few times before, but this will be my first time tattooing there.