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Dan Henk

Gore by Dan HenkTalk us through your first tattoo and what inspired it?

The first one I got was a detailed, upper arm circular piece. The centre was a realistic skull, and I was heavily into Tae Kwon Do (I’m a second degree black belt), so I have Korean letters rotating around it. It was all done with a three liner, 18 years ago, and it didn’t hold up over time that well!

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

Horror is more of an underground subculture, and so is tattooing (even if TV is currently making it more mainstream). If you already don’t play by societies rules, and you have a mindset where you appreciate art, it makes perfect sense. Horror fans tend to plaster art all over their shirts, walls, and anything else they value, why not their body? Besides, it separates you from the dead alive mainstream zombies that shuffle in and out of their 9 to 5 jobs. It’s a thumb in the eye of the man, a declaration of personal freedom, and a celebration of the art you love.

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

I specialise in horror, so I do a lot of creepy images, and I only work by appointment, so I get the privilege of picking and choosing exactly what I want to tattoo. When people come to me, and over half of my customers are from out of town, they tend to orient their tattoos towards my horror style. That said, I think my Jason Vorhees walking through a lake at dusk is one of my all time favourites. To me, it pulls together a lot of my favourite elements. I always say that Jason is the best character in the worst movies! So basically, I got to do a homicidal zombie, holding a bloody machete, wading through the waters of Crystal Lake. It’s a detailed close-up of the character, with a slightly out of focus background behind that sets the mood and increases the drama.

Do you have any tattoos that relate to your fiction? If not, would you consider this?

I haven’t yet, but of course I would love to! I’ll bet, the images from my novel will get used by a lot of tattoo artists, many of less than sterling quality. The painting on the back cover I have had done for quite awhile, and I have seen it tattooed several times, many of them horrible monstrosities!

American Psycho by Dan HenkWho are your favourite horror tattooists?

A lot of tattoo artists love doing horror, and quite a few are very good, so that is a little hard to answer. Tommy Lee Wedtner, Paul Acker, and Ron Russo all specialise in horror. They are all awesome, and have tattooed me personally.

How much does a person’s tattoos tell you about them?

Not as much as you would think. The fact that they have tattoos, especially a lot of tattoos, tends to tell me they could be a cool person, although there are plenty of douche-bags with way too many tattoos. If you have really good work, that says something about you as well, although many of my tattoo artist friends got tattooed when they first started out, and are covered in garbage they now want to get lasered off.

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

Fuck Miami Ink. Wait, was that not clear enough? FUCK MIAMI INK! You know why you should get a tattoo? Because you like it. Ever since the advent of reality TV ‘tattoo shows’, every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks their tattoos need to have meaning, and they often try to prescribe meaning to some shitty tattoo they picked off a wall years ago. “Yeah, this tribal armband is in memory of my dad…” Shut the fuck up, and go re-read my bit about douche-bags having tattoos!

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

Go big or go home! Carefully pick your artist, by quality not price, and then listen to what the fuck he has to say! He has been tattooing for quite awhile (if you did your job and picked a good tattoo artist) and knows what works on the skin!

Any words of warning regarding tattooing or things to avoid?

Yeah, don’t fall for the “well, I do awesome portraits, I don’t have any examples, but trust me…” Also, people all the time seem to fall for the “well, he’s a good artist on paper”. Look at tattoo portfolios! I went to art school, did work for books, magazines, and CDs, and my first two years of tattooing was still real hit and miss!

Pinhead by Dank HenkFor those who haven’t been to a tattoo convention, what can they expect?

Book an appointment with the artist of your choice, be on time, pay to get in, make sure you are fed, and take a fucking shower! After that, it’s all gravy.

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

Who would say that? I would punch them in the face!

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? 

I live in the most tattooed city in America, so I don’t see it as much, except from some of the older crowd. And you know what I have to say? Fuck them! Feed the man, live in your little 9 to 5 box, and die on schedule. I’ll enjoy my life.
That said, it is getting more accepted, although I’ve noticed, ever since I got my head tattooed, my new nickname at airports is “random security check”.

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