Derek Scott is a beast. This Las Vegas-based artist has been making waves in the tattoo industry with his bold use of color and mastery of the popular watercolor style. Whether he is at work or at home, Derek attempts to splash a little extra color into his life by constantly focusing on his art…on canvas or skin. Lucky for me, he took a little time away from his creative space to answer a few questions on his childhood, his favorite style of tattooing, and a little mishap he once had with a tattoo chair.
Okay, so the first thing I noticed when checking out your work is your use of color. Have you always favored the brighter side of the spectrum when it comes to art?
Yes. Color is what brings artwork together. Any color can make you have a certain feeling, therefore I like to work with various colors. When I paint as well as when I tattoo.
There’s been an increasing trend of artists freehanding their work onto their clients. Do you ever find yourself using this method or do you prefer to work off of a stencil? What do you feel about this method?
I prefer to use a little bit of stencil, but then I freehand everything around that base. I like to have a main focus point, then tie in everything together with my touch. As far as the method of free handing goes, I love it. I admire artists such as Megan Jean Morris for her skill with free-handing.
What drew you to the industry? Did you always know this was the path you would be taking?
What drew me to this industry was doing what I love, and being able to do everything my way. I love what I do and I enjoy taking the time to do it. Although I do take my job very seriously, sometimes it doesn’t feel like work, it’s pure fun. I always knew this was the path that I’d be taking. I enjoy this very much and I’ll continue to be in this industry for as long as I can.
Did you ever get in trouble at school for doodling in class?
Multiple times! In school, they don’t teach you art unless you take a special class for it. Like I stated in the previous answer, I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I would draw endlessly. I got my parents called, detention, etc, all because of my doodles. It’s where my mind always was, but it looks like it paid off in the end!
Have you had any formal art training or are you self-taught?
I took college courses when I was in high school. I also got a scholarship to USC for studio art. I attended the school for 2 years and then from there I moved to Las Vegas!
How long have you been tattooing? Did you apprentice first and if so, where/with whom?
I started to tattoo when I was 22 years old. Before that, I apprenticed when I was 21. I only apprenticed for about a year. I apprenticed at a small shop in Las Vegas under Matt Balla.
You seem to favor the watercolor style, which has been gaining vast popularity over the last year or two. Is this a trend you see continuing? Do you see a variation on the style in the future?
Absolutely to both questions. All styles change over time! It’s just how the industry works. Us, as artists, always strive to be better. I’m constantly still learning new things every day and I’m excited about the future of this growing industry.
Is there a style (or theme) of tattooing that you just can’t stand to do? Likewise, is there a style that you’re always eager to do?
I will tattoo anything, but if I had to choose one, I don’t enjoy doing tribal. Since I like to work with a lot of colors and tribal is all heavy black, it doesn’t mesh well with my style. I like to have fun with it, and most tribal designs have a set stencil that I can’t play with and make my own. It’s like a cut, copy and paste tattoo. I love doing watercolor and abstract tattoos. The abstracts tattoos give me freedom to play with the design and it also helps me expand my mind at the same time. I like to go into tattoos with an open mind, and a clear head.
Every tattoo artist has at least one horror story of working in the industry. Can you give us your worst ever experience since being in the business?
One time, I was tattooing an overweight man, and the back of the chair broke. From there, the backrest of the chair smashed my foot! That one really sticks out in my head because the pain was unbelievable. Now I know that the chairs do have a weight limit!
Do you have any hobbies or habits that help hone your skills? How do you improve yourself or teach yourself new tricks?
I enjoy watercolor painting. I try to paint something at the very least once a day. It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle! I improve myself by asking questions and watching artists who I admire. Once you think you know everything, then there’s no room for improvement. So I’m constantly questioning techniques.
A lot of artists have to have music during their sessions, citing that music helps keep them in their zone. Do you have to have music when you tattoo or do you prefer silence? If you prefer music, do you have a go-to band or playlist that you listen to?
I like listening to music in general while I tattoo. I don’t have a specific playlist that I put on, but classic rock is usually playing in the shops I’m in. I like music that helps me not think and cloud my brain.
Is there a certain future goal you have for your tattoo career?
I’d love to tattoo NBA stars, I’d love to tattoo Eddie Murphy because I feel like he would be hilarious the whole time. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy, Spain or Russia. In other countries, tattooing techniques and styles are all different. So I’d really enjoy going and meeting different people from all over the world!
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