ArtistsInspirational Interview With Clark North

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Inspirational Interview With Clark North

Many accomplished tattoo artists know who Clark North is and what he’s brought to the tattoo industry. But, when you talk to this master in person about what’s driven him these many years, and how he sees the tattoo world changing you can’t help but feel like you’re in the presence of greatness. He’s a very generous and gracious man altogether, especially with agreeing to do this Q&A with us as we prepare to honor him, Rick Walters and Catfish Carl this coming October 12th at Backstage Bar and Billiards. Here’s what Clark had to say to one of our shop owners and BLOG writer Stef Trip….

ST: “We’re having a kick-ass after party called After Mayhem at Backstage Bar and Billiards in downtown Vegas, on October 12th, during Bike Week. This party is to commemorate you, Rick Walters and Catfish Carl. We respect and love you guys for all of your contribution to the tattoo industry throughout the years. How does it feel being a Legend of Tattoo?”
CN: “Thank you, I’m honored that you would say that… but I really don’t feel that way about myself. I’ve been very lucky to have grown up in the chance places that I did. The tattooers that were in the area were great, they are the legends… the Pike in Long Beach & early Tattooland… those were the shops that were available when I was a teenager. Those places & people are the legends to me.”

ST: “You’re one of the most iconic tattoo artists in our industry. What has driven you these many years to be the best at what you do?”
CN: “Thats a good question, I have always enjoyed looking at tattoos. I mean really enjoyed, on an abnormal crazy level starting when when I was 4 years old. I think my drive has been… doing it, actually creating the things that I personally enjoy looking at. Being able to support my loved ones made it a career… because honestly, I didn’t take it seriously in the financial sense until my first son was born. But I had a drive to do it way before my children came along. I had a drive to tattoo myself and friends when we were 13 & 14 years old, I actually poked little tattoos in myself when I was 6 or 7 and a few other times before I was even a teenager… so the drive has always been there for some mysterious reason. And that drive has passed down to my son Cameron, he’s had the tattoo drive his whole life too, I even have a tattoo that he drew when he was 3 years old.”

ST: “How do you relate yourself to the tattoo industry these days? Do you think it’s gotten too main stream, or are you proud of where it’s going?”
CN: “I love where the tattoo world has got to these days! I mean man, its really a trip being able to go into a bank and see tellers with tattoos. It’s nice to not have security following me around as well. There are some great people becoming involved with tattooing every day, its always had its powers, it’s also always had its 5 year quiters… but these days people that can actually draw and have a passion for its past are the ones that catch my eye. It kind of seems the same as it always has, just more, but that’s because of this crazy huge human population boom.”

ST: “You’re an extremely talented painter as well as a class A tattoo artist. What medium do you enjoy doing the most and why?”
CN: “When I’m really in the zone and painting tattoo ideas or painting wall decor my natural swing of things happens with watercolor paint. I also love using watered down acrylic paint. I use it exactly like watercolor but it allows me to use an under-layer, that’s actually been one of my secrets, but what the heck, there it is. I enjoy offering tips from time to time.”

ST: “You were one of the first (if not the first) tattoo artists to grace cable television in the acclaimed tattoo show “Inked”, filmed here in Las Vegas. What do you remember most while being on the show? And do you miss it at all?”
CN: “The reason I agreed to do the show in the first place really relates to my Motto, and I wanted to get what I feel out there-
MOTTO~ “It isn’t just the drive to do tattoos, it’s the ability and determination to capture the nostalgia of tattooing, and to do it in a way that holds on to its lineage as well as keeping it fresh for today.”
I knew that once TV got ahold of tattooing they could ruin it, I knew that they could steer it away from what I love about it. If some of the producers had their way it would have been a bunch of crazy clowns showing how goofy they could be to get attention. My goal, and I hope I achieved a little bit if it, my goal was to show that tattooing can be a true skilled art form. I don’t remember a whole lot of details, it was 2 years of my life but it was close to 15 years ago. The episodes that I am proudest of are the ones that involved my mentors and my family.”

ST: “You do the most beautiful full body Japanese tattoos that I’ve ever seen! You are definitely up there with those Japanese masters that we’ve grown to know throughout the years. Why did you choose Japanese as your primary style of tattooing?”
CN: “Its difficult to put into words. On the most simple level – its my favorite style. But as far as why is it my favorite… perhaps this is the answer:
-The people that wear these full sized mural tattoos can be admired as quite capable with individual great qualities:
They have – Self-control ~ Dedication ~ Concentration ~ Budgeting ~ and True Patience skills. I enjoy being around these people, it helps me in personal ways.

• What I love about the Japanese tattoo style – When done well it flows perfectly with the body. It has a strong & un-cluttered quality. It must have skilled experience to achieve its full potential, and that is a goal, a challenge and a huge part of my drive. Some forms of tattooing are capable of being finely framed art. I think I’m helping people achieve greatness by wearing that art. In my small circle of clients it’s the the Japanese tattoo, though there are many other forms that do the same. I personally think the Japanese tattoo is one of the deepest soul-touching forms of art possible.  As for the patron, just the scale of the Japanese tattoo shows their personal discipline… as well as speaking strongly of their confidence & self-pride. My deepest artistic passions are in many of the mid to late 1800’s styles, my favorite is the un-modernized Japanese style. It has been a favorite of mine since I was 11 years old. It just grabbed me, the journey that I have taken with it as a passion is, to put it simply, so natural that I don’t think I could have gone in any other direction. Perhaps something has been there guiding me.”

ST: “Thank you Clark for being so awesome, but I have a few more questions for you, and this is the most obvious one. Where do you see yourself in the next 10-20 years as an artist?”
CN: “I will continue as I have except I’ll be 65-75 years old.”

ST: “What is your relationship with Rick Walters and Catfish Carl? How do you compare yourself as a Legend of Tattoo honoree with them at our party After Mayhem at Backstage Bar and Billiards here in Vegas?”
CN: “I miss living close to my friends Rick and Carl. Life separated me from their neighborhoods but we are still tight. They have each taken their turn in guiding me to be a better father, and a better skilled craftsman as well has greatly helped bring my artistic abilities to the surface. I’m grateful for this event honoring these two men, Rick & Carl. This is a great opportunity for me to honor them. I’m together with all of you thanking them for their careers as being an example of a good tattooers life, and in honoring their long life love for the craft. If it weren’t for people like them keeping the roots of tattooing in the current times the lineage and traditions could be lost. It’s important to me to know where I came from as well as the skilled craft that I am involved in. On a personal level over the past quarter century, there have been many late night hours, talking through some of life’s hardest trails, be it marriage, divorce, relationships, children, deaths etc… I know that I am only one person in their huge family of friends and loved ones, but I love each one of these men with the strongest care that individuals can share.”

ST: “Your answers are truly inspirational! Tattoo artists the world over will for sure love to read what we’ve talked about! Thank you once again for doing this interview with me and we’re looking forward to honoring you, Rick and Carl this coming October 12th here in Vegas.”



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