This weeks featured artist is Sean Arnold from Los Angeles. We sent him the Black TUKskin 3-Buckle Pointed Creeper Boots for him to customize in his own style.
To see more of his work head to his Instagram
Tell me about yourself:
My name is Sean Arnold, I’m 35 and was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan. Over the last decade I’ve called Los Angeles home. I work at Bob and Charlie Roberts’ Spotlight Tattoo in Hollywood and The Dolorosa Tattoo in Echo park.
How long have you been tattooing for?
I’ve been tattooing for 17 years now. I started my apprenticeship and was tattooing friends in 2003 when I was 18. It’s pretty crazy to me that I’ve been tattooing for almost half of my life at this point, that’s the longest I’ve been consistently doing anything in my life.
What made you want to become a tattoo artist?
There’s about 50 answers to that but after my second tattoo I payed attention and was blown away by the intensity of the process. It seemed really challenging and disciplined which is something I needed in my life at that time. Tattooing was a major fork in the road for me, and I hadn’t even realized it. I truly owe it so much for what it’s given me.
Why did you decide to customize the shoes the way you did?
I wanted to give an ode to Spotlight Tattoo, where I’ve been tattooing for the last 5 years. That shop is an institution, and being there over the past years has brought me a higher degree of understanding with tattooing than I’ve ever encountered elsewhere. Fundamentally, technically and spiritually, it has allowed me to hone in toward a higher understanding of the craft. Bob and Charlie are both an integral part of the tradition and certainly should be held as a strong branch on the linage of what is not only traditional tattooing, but tattooing as a whole. These shoes are in respect of them.
How was working on this project for you?
It was a bit challenging, at first, trying to conceptualize something that I haven’t seen done on shoes before. It was also difficult finding the right shaped designs that would sit correctly without making it unbalanced or unreadable from a distance. I was trying to keep it true to tattooing and find the right flow for each plane on the shoe. I ended up really enjoying both designing and painting, which felt a little like tattooing as it’s a pretty awkward shape to hold on to while trying to make a strait line. Overall it was satisfying to work through and see the final project.
Are you currently working on any other projects?
Right now I’m just trying to gear myself to start tattooing again. Figuring out new styles and/or subject matter that excites me, and what direction I’d like to start moving.
How long have you been an artist for?
I’ve been an artist since I could hold something in my hand and make a mark. I’ve always drawn, but didn’t really start taking art seriously until I was in college. I’d always kept Fine art and tattooing very separate, however when I started understanding how the two can work harmoniously together without dominating one another was when my career really started to take off.
What’s your favorite tattoo that you have & why?
I would have to say my fathers portrait on my forearm, which had a major overhaul by my coworker Juan Teyer. Juan is one of the best black and grey Tattooers alive and he did that piece an extreme justice. My father passed away in 2008 when I was only 23. He was my best friend and biggest supporter at a time that I was really trying to figure it out. Where plenty of people, including me, had little faith, he was always impressed and would take time to just hang out and watch me tattoo my friends at the shop. That portrait keeps me going and reminds me to continue to make him proud.
How were you keeping busy during quarantine?
Honestly, I’ve had my ups and downs. It was a bit challenging for me to stay productive the entire time, but it definitely allowed me to slow down and take time to get to know myself better as a person and as an artist. The day to day of tattooing and serving others is very rewarding, but it can turn into a bit of a treadmill if you don’t stop to take the time you need for yourself to rest, develop and grow.