Tattooer Winston the Whale is becoming quite well known recently in mainstream media outlets due to his 3D style tattoos that he’s been putting out there. The tattoos are similar to those old 3D photos and TV shows you used to see years ago, with the red and blue outlines over everything. I can remember when you used to get the crappy cardboard glasses in the TV guide every so often, just to be disappointed with the one TV show that had the “amazing” 3D scene in it. To be honest, these tattoos aren’t anything too new, though I’ve never seen one tattooer do so many of these, or gain a lot of attention for it, so that’s pretty cool.
The former graffiti artist started tattooing as a “fluke” and said getting into the medium “happened super fast and I honestly didn’t expect it to become a career path.” “I was asked by a friend to do a stick ‘n’ poke tattoo and at first declined the offer, but he convinced me to just try it,” he said. “I did a tiny planet and some stars and pretty much nailed it first try. I turned around and did another on my other friend, then another the next day, started posting [the tattoos] and boom! I was fully immersed in the medium and was booked doing stick ‘n’ poke tattoos within a month.
Firstly, I just want to point out that Winston isn’t wrong when he says this is a “fluke”- this is not how I would ever recommend getting into tattooing. Fair play to Winston for it, but tattooers should be completing apprenticeships and learning from the best. Buzzfeed might be fine with implying that ‘stick and poke’ stuff is cool to do, but North Rose will not.
This whole thing got me thinking about what it really means to say you’re a legit tattooer, or artist. On one hand, I think that a tattooer who limits themselves to one thing and doesn’t know about their craft will never be as good as one who does. The idea of a ‘real’ tattooer, in my opinion, is a bit old-school. On the other hand, if you look at some of the great artists outside of tattooing, they were all mostly doing one style. Is the 3D tattoo Winston’s ‘style’? I can see from his Instagram page that he isn’t exactly only doing the 3D stuff, but it is very prominent.
I don’t want to throw shade at Winston, by the way- the article from Buzzfeed alone got me thinking about this. There are plenty of tattooers out there who stick to the same thing- on a technical side of things, they are great tattooers. Their lines are clean, and you can tell their tattoos will hold well over time. However, from an artistic point of view, what happens to artists that don’t change and evolve with their work? I hope that Winston has some great new ideas after he’s tattooed every one of his clients that wanted a 3D style tattoo, but I’d also like to know what you think. Do you think tattooers have to keep learning and changing, or do you think that once they have their own thing going on, they should stick with it? Let me know in the comments.