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Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson

Tattooing professionally since 2008, Paul’s love of horror, comic books and sci-fi has greatly inspired his work – ranging from fantastic realism to his own cartoon-style designs.

Horror tattoo by Paul JohnsonTalk us through your first tattoo and what inspired it?

There wasn’t much thought or research involved in getting my first tattoo.  It was more a case of getting the first thing that came to mind from an artist my friends were going to at the time. I got some of Alan Forbes’ artwork right in the middle of my forearm (hindering future pieces) that soon became infected. Knowing nothing about tattoos at the time, this scared the shit out of me! Dealing with an area of my arm constantly on show for weeks with scabs split, bleeding and pussing, it was not pretty. I’ve had the piece touched up since but it still looks like it’s had a couple of laser sessions.

There’s a lot of crossover between horror and ink fans, what do you think the connection is?

I’ve been obsessed with horror from an early age. Movies, books, art, comics, music, its such a diverse culture full of dedicated fans its only natural for them to want to show there enthusiasm for it. Plus, monsters look awesome!

Of all your tattoos which do you think is most synonymous with horror?

The majority of my tattoos have something to do with horror; I didn’t actually realise that until now though.  I have a Jeff Scott Campbell drawing from the Evil Dead comic on my leg that is yet to be finished, and has been like that for for about five years; I really need to get it sorted.  The last one I had done is of a vampire pinup by Lee Armstrong at Northern Glory.

Who are your favourite horror tattooists?

Way too many to mention but the guy I’m buzzing off at the moment is Tom Strom. The detail and texture he creates in his nightmarish creatures is amazing. I love artists like this, who not only make awesome separate pieces but when looked at together, something much bigger, as if they’ve created a world where they all come from with a story behind it.

Paul Johnson tattooHow much do a person’s tattoos tell you about them?

I wouldn’t attempt to read too much into what other people get tattooed. You can assume but in most cases you’ll be wrong. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.

Is it okay to get a tattoo just because it looks fucking cool or do you believe there should be a deep message behind each tattoo?

Ha! Of course it is. All my tattoos remind me of times in my life but the idea that all tattoos have to be deep and meaningful is just bollocks! I know that’s not everyone’s view but I’d rather get work from artists I admire now, than wait around for life changing experiences to dictate what tattoos I should get.  Its more fun that way.

What advice do you have for people considering their first tattoos?

Do your research. I’d see tattoos in magazines/online and think it wasn’t realistic or accessible for me to get anything of that standard, I’d settle for things more simple. If you live near an artist you like, that’s great. But if not, don’t be afraid to travel to find the artist which best suits the style you’re after.

Any words of warning regarding tattooing and things to avoid?

Same as before, do your research. Check portfolios, there will be a reason if they don’t have one. Listen to the tattooist about after care. I’ve had people disregard everything I’ve said in favour of advice from a mate who’s had one tattoo of a star or something and now thinks they know better.

Paul Johnson inkFor those who haven’t been to a tattoo convention, what can they expect?

They can completely vary in atmosphere and organisation. When it’s done right though, they’re great fun. It’s the best way to meet a load of artists and look through portfolios. When I’m working them it’s a completely different matter, I stress so much that for the first couple of hours my nerves are all over the place and I’m incapable of much conversation. I’m getting better… slightly. So I’m sorry if it seemed like I was ignoring anyone at these events.

If, for whatever reason, you were told that you could only have one more tattoo, what would it be and why?

That’s a ridiculous question. I’d have the Ultra-Nano Tattoo 3000! It’s a procedure where different coloured Nanobots are injected into your body. From there they create a psychic link with the artists you meet. After deciding the piece you want they bring it to form on your skin and store it in their memory banks for later viewing. It’s the forever-changing tattoo.

There are still a lot of people who discriminate against tattoos in the work place, why do you think that is? Do you think this trend is reversing? 

It’s more abnormal now for people not to be tattooed. Over time the more people in power with tattoos will grow so it will inevitably be more acceptable. Until then though the generation that still believes that tattoos reflect a person’s work ethics or job suitability seem to be winning, it’s a slow process but acceptance will take over.

MICHAEL WILSON

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