Dan Gold - London Ink
Author: Therese K. Hermansen. Photo: Therese K. Hermansen and Johnny Vicious. (From Rimfrost Magazine # 20/2009)
Dan Gold is looking through a copy of Rimfrost Magazine that I just gave him, as we’re sitting outside the Tattoo Convention in Stavanger. It’s starting to get late, and he’s got his first smoking break since he got here this morning. Inside the venue, tattooists from several countries are working, while shows, merchandise stalls, music and loads of people are buzzing in the background.
Dan Gold, from Skunx Tattoo, better known from London Ink, is one of several people who’ve come to Norway this weekend. All the time while we’ve been there, he’s been really busy tattooing, while loads of people have been standing around, waiting to be next, or just looking and maybe taking a picture or two. After he’s finished a tattoo, he comes over to us, apologizes politely that we’ve had to wait so long, and asks if we can do the interview outside, so that he can have a cigarette.
- I used to work there! He bursts out.
He’s been looking through the magazine while I was about to start with my first question for him, and has just seen a picture in the magazine from Camden in London.
- Yeah, Cold Steel, for 6 years. How funny.
- Yeah, sorry.. Hahahaha! I’ll concentrate. Okay.
When did you first get into tattooing?
I kind of fell into tattooing, I was a graffiti artist for many years. I started painting graffiti back in 1985 when I was 12 years old. The kind of style of tattooing that I did, no one was doing, so I just thought, why not? That’s how I started, and all my mates wanted those kind of tattoos. I built my own tattoo machine, and started tattooing my friends.
I don’t recommend it to anyone! I mean, obviously if anyone wants to get into tattooing these days they can’t do it that way anyway, because it’s not safe, there are so many more diseases these days, so much more dangerous. So you have to go through a certified apprenticeship if you wanna become a tattooist now.
How many tattoos have you got on yourself?
Well, let’s put it this way: The only places I haven’t got tattoos is on my stomach, and my inside thighs. So pretty much everywhere else (laughs)
Are there some tattoo designs that are more popular than others?
What I do is all custom work. Every tattoo I do, I design specifically for each individual customer. So I never do the same tattoo twice.
Do you ever get any strange requests from customers?
Yeah. We do. I enjoy it! The strangest thing I’ve ever done was a shopping trolley. I think that’s pretty strange.
Was there a special reason why they wanted that..?
Do you know what? I didn’t even want to ask (laughs)
Sometimes you think, naah, I don’t want to know the answer to that. Maybe they love working in Tesco’s or something. I don’t know.
Any other slightly strange tattoos you’ve been asked to do?
Yeah, there’s loads of different things.
I’ve done an iron, a hairdryer, those kind of things. It’s strange. Bizarre isn’t it?
Any strange things happening in the tattoo studio sometimes?
There’s always strange things happening in a tattoo studio. I’m not sure how many of them I can speak about in a magazine (laughs again)
What are the most important things to think about before getting a tattoo?
I think the most important thing is that it’s the design that you want, you know what I mean?
I think too many people worry about if it’s going to hurt, stuff like that. And that’s really not important, because the pain is something that is going to last maximum a couple of hours, it’s something you’re gonna have for life. So the most important thing is that it’s something that you really want, and obviously you gotta check out the tattooist that’s going to do it. Check out their pictures, their websites. Make sure that they are up to the job. You can walk into some nice tattoo studio, and the people in there can’t tattoo sometimes. Always check out the people’s work, make sure it’s what you want. And I think it’s important that you get on with your tattooist as well. If it’s someone that you really don’t get on with, it’s not going to be a happy meeting. Hehe.
Getting a tattoo should be something that’s fun, something that you look back on with a fun memory for the rest of your life. Every time you look at that tattoo, you’re thinking: “Wow, that was a great time!”
Who’s your ideal customer? What would be a perfect day at work?
Well, I pretty much have a perfect day at work every day! My customers are really cool, and kind of let me do whatever I want. I quite like customers to have a set idea of what they like, but what they actually want, they leave to me, that’s quite cool. So I get my customers to give me maybe five or six pieces of something that they really like, and it doesn’t have to be tattoos, it can just be normal pictures. “I really like the colour in that, or these eyes in that one,” some people bring in a whole folder of stuff, and also bring in some stuff that they don’t like or tattoos that they don’t like. And that gives a clear idea of how they want it to look, and how they don’t want it to look. And then from there I normally go away, do a little bit of drawing, or I draw directly on the skin. All my work is pretty much freehand these days. We sit there and have a chat, we can spend a couple of hours drawing, and then, once we’re happy with the result and have a cup of tea, we can start tattooing!
Hahaha, so you know, my life is pretty good. It’s not bad, is it? (Laughs)
How has your life changed after being on London Ink?
It’s changed my life completely! I get stopped in the street for photos, I get asked for autographs, and I’ve never done that before. So at first that was pretty strange.
So yes, my life is completely changed. We get invited to all sorts of dues now. VIP, openings, premiers, stuff I’ve never done before. It’s fun. It’s good fun. I love it! Sometimes it’s a little odd, getting recognized everywhere, if I’m out in a restaurant with my son, or if I’m out shopping, then it can be a little strange. But you get used to it, and people are really nice. They always come over and say, oh I love the show. It’s very nice. It’s changed for the better. It’s been great. Absolutely great. I’m lovin’ it! Hehe.
You’ve tattooed quite a few celebrities as well?
I’ve tattooed loads of celebrities, that’s really good. The only problem is I’m so busy now and most of them don’t really want to wait. I’ve got a long waiting list, and they want to get tattooed straight away. (laughs) And I can’t! So it’s kind of backfired a little bit, but I used to tattoo loads of celebrities, it’s quite funny. Kate Moss, Kasabian. Good fun!
What are your biggest achievements?
I think my biggest achievement is that we’ve set up this business where I do my own products and stuff, and that’s something I’ve always dreamt of. I always wanted to do my own colours, and now I’ve got my own range of tattoo colours out, and that’s something I’m really proud of. They’re really good colours, we’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of time. It’s taken two years to get to the point where we are now. So that’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of. And also doing the TV show obviously was really nice. Also, getting some of my paintings in galleries, that’s been quite a big achievement. It’s something that you can be proud of. It’s been some good years really, I’m really happy.
You do paintings as well?
I do oil painting. It’s more traditional painting really. That’s something I really enjoy doing, but that’s like a hobby, when I’ve got some spare time. They go to exhibitions, and then they sell through galleries.
When asked if they’re only sold as originals through galleries, or if you can get copies online, he replies:
They sell really quickly so I never get the chance to actually get them up on my website! I would love to! Hahahaha! So whenever I make one, they always sell straight away. So it’s good. People recognize the style and obviously they must like it, so that’s really nice.
It’s a lovely feeling.