We've never featured a shop quite like SikInk Studios. Rob McClurg was nice enough to answer a few questions, share his insight about where the industry is headed, impart some advice for newcomers, and reiterates the fact that it’s a machine, not a gun.
Sikink Studios Tattoo and Special FX has been open since September 2011. We are an artist or collector's dream come true. Whether it's skin art, special FX prosthetics or makeup, tattoo machine casting, jewelry casting or filmmaking, SikInk has you covered.
Freedom and independence. The respect and sense of…family - just trading secrets, learning and making good money along the way.
Adam West inspired me with his ability to whip an image up with mastery and bold artistic understanding. I apprenticed under Adam in Panama City Beach, FL in 1990. The one and only time I called a Tattoo Machine a "gun", he pulled out a .38, put the barrel to my forehead, and quoted "this is a gun boy, that's a simple machine, know the difference".
Very laid back music and film industry clients and friends. [I'm] very blessed to have attracted like-minded collectors and teachers.
My natural forte as always life. Anything photo or surrealistic on composition, with lighting being the key focus. I'm evenly matched, whether B&G or Color, leaning to mixes of both for contrast. My work is photorealistic and mostly resembles a painterly style with super soft layers blending color or black and gray seamlessly.
Into the machine
I look at it like learning to play guitar. It’s cool to recreate a song, with the goal of learning guitar being in mind. Once that goal and foundation has been set, build your own bag of tricks - quit playing covers.
First and foremost, research your artist and look at their work. I appreciate that the person that is new to the tattoo world is at a great disadvantage, and may not REALLY know what to look for. And don't expect to see the exact image that you're looking for in an artist's portfolio. Allow Artist Interpretation! Look at QUALITY, not necessarily the specific image. You should see clean lines, solid color, and smooth gradations. Also look for style. If you want a portrait, or photorealistic piece, and there's NOTHING like that in their portfolio, do not get one from them. Graphic tattoos require a different skill set and sensibility than photorealism. They are not mutually exclusive, however. Most good artists can do both. Build a rapport with your artist during consultation. Speak up… an artist doesn’t know if you’re not happy with the image unless you tell them. Don't let anyone bullshit or pressure you. An artist's work should speak for itself. You get what you pay for, plain and simple… don’t be cheap with artwork you wear for the rest of your life.
Stay humble, loyalty is key to respect and once you get your foot in the door you need to pay your dues -and don’t give up.
I use a custom hand-sculpted and cast 3-D Machines Jason (Friday the 13th) tattoo machine, w/ hand wrapped 8’s & a 3-D Machines “Miki” Machine, also w/ hand wrapped 8’s, 3-D Machines is Owned and Operated by myself.
National standardization of Aseptic Technique, in Cooperation equally with state health officials and Licensed, Bloodborne Pathogen Trained, CPR Certified Tattoo Artists.
Rob, 39, has been tattooing for 23 years. Aside from constantly honing his craft, Rob's other hobbies include oil painting, metallurgy, filmmaking, and, interestingly, breathing.