AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK WATTS
We spoke to Jack Watts aka Tattoos For Your Enemies, a tattooist and artist, working at Sang Bleu Tattoo in Dalston, East London.
Jack, great to have you on board at Lawless Studio!
How would you describe what you do and your style?
‘I’m a tattooist and artist, I work at Sang Bleu Tattoo in Dalston, East London. I would essentially consider my tattoo style traditional, but with a twist, my friend Matt once described it as traditional through a carnival mirror! I’m heavily influenced by folk art or outsider art so certainly consider myself part of that as well.’
What steps did you take to get to where you are now?
‘I started getting tattooed when I was 19, I quickly became obsessed with the culture and the history behind it. I began collecting from the best artists around at the time, finding them through magazines, myspace and seeing their work on other people. I became friends with Martin Clark who owned Bluebird Tattoo in Watford, he had done a lot of my first tattoos. Eventually I began working at the shop, running the front desk, cleaning, apprentice type things, I did that for 2 years. During that time I was drawing a lot, inspired by Martin and the friends I had made in tattooing through getting tattooed myself.
‘One day I drew my first sheet of flash and above it I wrote ‘tattoos for your enemies’ the idea being that the drawings were so odd that they’d have to be tattooed on someone you didn’t like!’
With help and guidance I developed and refined my drawing style until eventually 2 years after working for Martin he began to teach me to tattoo them. Before I started tattooing I was selling a self published zine ‘tattoos for your enemies’. The zine featured designs and I sold them online, this grew a following and solidified that name.
From there I continued to get tattooed building my collection whilst also doing my first tattoos on willing friends and the lads from the pub across the road. After a while I was offered the opportunity to work at Sang Bleu by two friends of mine Sarah Schor and Frank Carter, this was a huge move and to be around some of the best artists in the country only pushed me to be better. The zines were still selling fast and partnered with tattooing my name grew and I began to do design work for bands and brands, they were keen to have my unique style attached to their projects. Since then I have continued to work there and move into my 5th year as a resident.
Artists are generally multidisciplinary with multiple skills - which skill do you wish you practise do more often?
‘I need to make more time to paint, I paint tattoo flash all the time, but would love to paint for fun and to develop a better skill set and understanding of art within other mediums.’
Describe your ideal collaboration.
‘A repeat pattern would be really interesting, I think my style would lend itself well to that. Any company that’s happy to see my work bring their piece to life! I think my drawings are very versatile and can imagine them working with a variety of different projects.’
How do you stay creative?
‘I constantly look for inspiration in everything, I take photographs of things when I’m outside and use that to make new designs. Working in a creative industry with amazing clients enables me to always be pushing myself with the interesting briefs I receive.’