Interview by Jordan Tinney.
Reblogged from: www.swallowsndaggers.com
I'm going to say this only once: don't blink. Dusty Neal is an American tattooist based out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana at Black Anvil Tattoo. This might sound a little fan-boyish, but Dusty is one of the best and most under rated in the game today. A fastidious worker, incredible painter and even more amazing tattooer. I recently had the chance to conduct a short interview with Mr. Neal; if you're in his area don't sleep on this guy.
Jordan Tinney: What really got you into tattooing?
Dusty Neal: I've always known I wanted to make art for a living, but I never really thought about becoming a tattooer until I was already in college and getting tattooed when I could. It was really hardcore and metal that made me interested in getting tattooed though. Just being into all that stuff, seeing tattoos on bands and at shows really made me think about tattoos. I didn't grow up with it around me in any other form and I guess that's what attracted me to it. When I came into it finally I was so naive about what good tattoos really were, and over the few years I've been tattooing my tastes and thoughts on it have changed so very much.
JT: What year did you start tattooing professionally?
DN: I made my first tattoo in January of 2006.
JT: Did you have an apprenticeship in the traditional sense?
DN: I apprenticed under Donny Manco, and owe everything to him for giving me an opening into tattooing. He taught me the fundamentals of what I was actually doing, but other than that it was really not much of a passed down tradition or anything. Sometimes I wish I had a "proper" apprenticeship and was taught more traditional ideals and methods, yet by being someone's 10th apprentice (with 5 after me), and not really being taught about flash or anything, it forced me to go out and learn what I could from serious tattooers or just by trial and error of my own experience. I would say now I do everything probably the complete opposite of what I was taught, but everyone has to find what works for them and everyone is different.
JT: Tell me about Black Anvil, and how that came to fruition?
DN: The conception of Black Anvil Tattoo is a recent happening. I met Nate (Click) my first year tattooing and have worked with him ever since he started, four years ago. He was there when Donny Manco and I started New Republic Tattoo. Over the past few years, especially after bringing in Beau Guenin, it was really our shared vision that started to shape New Republic into what it became, and also what started to create a tension between us and Donny. It was a non-dramatic split from Donny, as we just felt it was time to leave New Republic and create something that could be completely our own. With B.A.T. we wanted to pay tribute to the traditions and honor of tattooing, and create an environment that would display that pride while also being more advantageous to our clients and our shop morale.
JT: Did you do more traditional art in your past, before you started tattooing?
DN: Honestly, as much as I try to adhere to traditional principles, I still don't even consider myself a "traditional" tattooer, but only because I feel like its disrespectful to those people who are really devoted to that mentality and lifestyle, and not just the aesthetic. Before tattooing, shamefully I had no understanding whatsoever of traditional tattooing. It took a few years before I really started to understand what my perception of it is. My perception of it is also constantly evolving.
JT: What truly influences you in your life, and in your tattooing as well?
DN: A tattooer's life should be infused in his or her work. It's important to me that my interests show through my work, because that's what makes people stand apart from imitators, and will also attract like-minded artists towards each other. Having said that, classic heavy metal and "evil" imagery is probably the biggest influence over my work, but also occult symbolism, Aliester Crowley, sex, death, the supernatural, and nihilism. Aside from these things, I'm also very influenced by finding affirmation and sharing ideas with my co-workers and friends, especially, Jacob Des, Cla Wolfmeyer, Jacob Bryan, and Destroy Troy.
JT: Do you continue to find new things to keep you "into it" or are you always coming across inspiration?
DN: I find it easy to stay "into it," but I also consider it a tattooer's top priority to enjoy their work and be confident with it, otherwise they are only doing the craft a disservice and should find another line of work. There are too many passionate and talented people tattooing to allow room for those doing it merely to pay bills. However, it's important to me to constantly be growing and evolving. Inspiration doesn't always come, but I manage to seek it out and find it.
Again, I'm thankful to Dusty for entertaining me and this interview, and if your'e in Fort Wayne or Indiana in general, make sure to stop at Black Anvil and get a great tattoo, not only from Dusty but from his incredible coworkers. Dusty can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dustyneal.tumblr.com. He's on Instagram as well under @dustyneal. What we do is secret..