Many graffiti artists work in a variety of areas in a quest to improve their writing skills. Their work can be seen on murals, in fashion – and now even in tattoo design. These spray paint technicians with wild styles are changing the face of skin art with their bold designs and lettering. Filled with graffiti style burners and characters that are departure from the standard tribal designs and sailor styles, this collection celebrates this cross-over style from streets to parlours. One of them is our good old friend PILFER from Australia, who has been introduced to us a bit more than 15 years ago. Since then he travelled the world, lived in different places around Europe and worked on his Tattoo skills!
We talked to him a bit about that very interesting bridge between Graffiti and the Tattoo culture, his early beginnings, the culture and how he became a very talented Tattoo artist!
Hey! When did you start graffiti and how?
My first experience with graffiti was probably around mid 2003. It was through friends at school that were all really into it. I thought it was kind of stupid before I tried it, maybe because I didnt understand it. Once my friends talked me into doing my first outline, I was hooked. The funny thing is, that every single person who got me into it quit relatively soon after, but I never looked back. I knew I loved it too much. It became an obsession overnight.
When starting off with Graffiti, what are the biggest fails you can run in and what is your advice to beginners?
The biggest fail I would say is running before you can walk. Start simple and build on it. Also, find good influence. If youre looking at the right stuff then I think it helps you get better. Classic graffiti is always the go to. Learn some history. Dont try to hide your letters special with effects and too many crazy colours. If youre starting out, bite all the good shit and slowly mix it up and make it your own. Everyone goes on about not biting and being original. But without a bit of influence and knowing what makes something good, you probably wont end up making anything good yourself. Its all a matter of opinion anyway, but just have fun with it and dont worry about what anyone thinks. Also, paint as many different words as you can. It helps to do different letters all the time because you can bring all of your ideas together when you go back to your original or main word. Focus on letters for sure!
You have been to Europe many times, what is the biggest difference to Australian Graffiti?
Just the flavour. The styles are different. I feel like most of the good stuff still pays tribute in some way to classic NYC graffiti in both places. I for sure think that the internet has watered down regional styles now with everyone including myself having access to everything at any time. There’s so many good writers in both places as well as the rest of the world. It may also be a matter of opportunity. Some places are harder than others to paint in and that also affects the style and output with what’s happening. It’s both a good and a bad thing.
If someone has never seen your graffiti pieces before, how would you describe your style and stylistic details?
My main focus is on doing letters which look good. I dont care too much for special effects, I feel like ultimately its doing good
solid letters that have good connections and your own flavour. I am for sure heavily influenced by classic american graffiti but I feel like now ive been doing it for so long I have many ways which I mix it up and play with connections between letters. I don’t like to paint too tight. I like to focus on style, not how clean something is. I will almost always never fix up any mistakes with application and let things lay how they are.
You are hiding face when publishing works or graffiti in progress photos, why is anonymity important to you?
Because it’s about the product, not my face or me personally.
How important is the spray can for you these days? And do you recognize any quality difference between all the brands available these days?
Painting for me is just a great outlet. I’ll always do both graffiti and Tattooing . I’m more focused these days on doing good pieces than anything too crazy. I would say that tattooing is probably my main focus also. I feel like because it’s more broad with different styles, there’s a lot to learn and take in. Graffiti is one kind of thing. Tattooing is many styles and far more open ended. I find them both exciting but in different ways. There are for sure a lot of brands. MOLOTOW has always supported me which has been great, not only here in Australia but also when I’ve been in Europe and Asia . It’s still to this day my favourite paint and also over the years they have expanded their range so much it’s hard to keep up. I do use the liquid acrylic for painting tattoo flash and using through an airbrush too when doing painting. It’s for sure some of the best stuff I have used for that kind of work.
What do you think is the main point Graffiti taught you?
That if you keep doing something for a long time or youre enthusiastic about it and put your time into it, you will get better. That its okay to be influenced and take inspiration from other people but also do your own thing, and to always try new things. Also, it teaches a good set of ethics and consequences of your action. Not everyone will like you, or what you do, and that’s fine. It for sure teaches you to be thick skinned and be respectful of others. I love the graffiti community. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and meet up with people worldwide who share the same passion. It has provided me with people who I stay in touch with regularly around the world, who have now become some of my best friends. I can see that similarity is there within tattooing and I hope to experience that in the future.
How did you beome a tattoo artist? Does it have anything to do with your graffiti background?
I was always interested in tattooing since I was younger, but I never had the confidence to try it out. I was probably always too worried about what people
would think. Once I finally started, I realised that I really didn’t care what people thought. Those that are with you, won’t give you shit, they’ll just support you. It was like when I did my first outline with graffiti. Once I started tattooing, I quickly knew that it was the best job I had ever had, and something. I would do forever. Although they are different mediums, they both allow me to express myself creatively. There’s so many similarities between the two things I find it crazy, but I found that having painted for so long gave me a huge help with my tattooing, and as in any creative medium there’s always room to get better, every single time you do something. When I paint a piece, I will look at it later and realise all the things I wouldn’t do next time, and that’s just the same with tattooing. They are both so challenging, depending on your drive and how you look at it. I forever want to improve in both. Now I just have two obsessions, and one which I’m lucky enough to have as my job. I work all the time, but I never feel like I did working my old jobs. I’m more inspired to work as hard as I can than ever before. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s the best ever.
How long have you been tattooing? What are your goals and has your graffiti influenced your tattoo art?
I have been tattooing for only around 4 years. My goal is basically just to get better all the time and try to eventually get better at different styles of tattooing. There are so many good tattooers its crazy, but I think everyone brings something different or their own flavour, just like in graffiti. Its super inspiring. Graffiti has for sure influenced some of the stuff I do, and I definitely think that paying homage to classic styles or designs exists within both, but as I’ve mentioned its always cool to put your own spin on things. I usually do try to keep them relatively separate but I like to do graffiti tattoos as well as mostly traditional style tattoos and also I enjoy taking people’s ideas and giving them the best tattoo I can. It’s exciting because there’s so much to learn and challenge yourself with. One cool thing was that people who knew my painting wanted to get tattooed by me when I started. I’m really fortunate for that. It helped me get the best start I could ask for. I hope to eventually travel with my work and be able to do it in new places.
What else influences your tattoo art?
I try to take influence and inspiration from all around. There are so many good tattooers, which is really inspiring to see people out there
working hard and killing it. I hope to get there one day also. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of really good tattooers who have taught me a lot. The shop I work at – Good Luck Tattoo Melbourne has also really helped me grow and believe in myself a whole lot. Everyone is supportive and honest and offers help without ego. I couldn’t ask for a better environment to learn in. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to have so many awesome people that let me tattoo them and support me. I am definitely thankful for that and it just makes me want to do any tattoo to the best of my ability at that time.
You have been to the MOLOTOW HQ many years ago, what was your impression back then?
It was awesome! I loved visiting the MOLOTOW HQ and painting there. Everyone was super friendly and accomodating. Travelling is the best thing anyone can do. I think it’s all about experiences. Being there more than 12 years ago was eye opening for me. Life is crazy! I wouldn’t have ever imagined being supported by a brand like that when I first started painting. The support opened up lots of opportunities to me. I’m really grateful for it and to those who made it happen.
Do you run any website or Social media to follow?
My tattoo instagram is @eyeball.tattoo and the shop I work at in Melbourne Australia is @goodlucktattoo
Thanks and hope to see you soon back in our HQ painting the train!
I can’t wait : )