Take a moment to imagine the breadth of creativity that is derived from engaging in the tattoo art world from the moment that the last bell rang in high school and you tossed your backpack in the trash and shouted out that you are free at last. New Zealand tattoo extraordinaire, Steve Butcher, is, in fact, a living, breathing example of such. I caught up with the man behind the machine and teamed up with photographer, Kamila Burzymowska, to showcase Mr. Butcher’s work and discuss his current endeavors, journey within the tattoo world and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to our readers. Tell us about your journey within the tattoo world.
Hey guys, Steve Butcher here, I was born and raised in West Auckland, New Zealand, I’m 27 years old and I’ve been tattooing for 6 and a half years. I started in a street shop in Auckland city, then 2 years later I got a job with Matt Jordan at Ship Shape Tattoo where I worked for nearly 4 years. And now I am just pretty much a gypsy.
How would you describe your art style, and what are some of your specialties?
I would describe my style as realism and I would say my specialties would be creating depth in a tattoo and just the level of detail in which I put in my tattoos.
What do you perceive a client should expect from you as a tattoo artist? On the other hand, what do you expect from a client to make a successful tattoo and a standout collaboration?
The client should expect from me, that I will do my best to create something that they are happy with and that I am happy with. They should also expect to listen to or being subjected to listening to rap music. As for what I expect from a client, I expect that they will b open to suggestion and open to change as it’s difficult to work with someone who doesn’t want to collaborate at all. And I also expect that they bring a sense of humour and like to chat a bit because there’s nothing worse than tattooing someone who sits in silence.
You are certainly a living, breathing canvas yourself. Tell us about your favorite personal tattoos and the artists that brought them to life.
My favourite tattoos are my hand tattoos both done by my friend Dean Sacred from Sacred Tattoo in Auckland, NZ. They’re black n gray portraits of my mum and my nana and he nailed both of them, plus they’re two pretty cool women. My 2nd favourite would be my colour Kobe Bryant portrait tattoo done by my good friend Q Tattoos (Donkyu Lee) who works at FY Ink in Toronto, Q is the man and Kobe has been my idol since I was a kid!
Describe how your role models and any other sources of inspiration have affected your tattoo style?
Nikko Hurtado has to be my earliest, biggest inspirations in the tattoo world, his work is some of the best in the world and when I started he was doing work that I wanted to do. Dmitry Sampson is always someone that I’ve looked up to and are constantly chasing to try and tattoo like him, try to get that “dmitry effect” and make it look so damn good. Outside of tattooing I’ve always loved painting and artists like Dali, Rembrandt, Caravaggio who have always inspired me and my art.
What were you doing for a living prior to becoming a tattoo artist?
I’ve never actually worked another job. I went to art school after high school for four years and got my bachelors of fine arts and straight after I graduated, I got my first job at Streetwise in New Market, Auckland.
What creative project is coming up next for you?
I really want to start painting again as I haven’t done much due to the amount of tattooing I’m doing at the moment. It is like to start doing small studies that won’t take too long but are still really fun so you might see a set of paintings emerge in the next few months.
What do you do outside of tattooing to contribute to your creativity?
Because tattooing is so time demanding I don’t really do many creative things outside of tattooing. In my spare time, I like hanging out with my wife and family at the beach, I also love to play basketball in real life or on PS4 so I do a lot of that.
Explain to me the buzz circulating through the tattoo studio that you work from when you are tattooing a client.
I always like a bit of banter and gossip while I work kinda like a barbershop or hairdressers, it always lightens the mood and helps the client take their minds off of the pain.
Last but certainly not least, any messages for admirers of your tattooing?
Keep working as hard as u can, keep tattooing and pushing your limits. As long as you stick at it the only way u can go is up.