Sacramento tattoo artist
OK, let’s do the math: He’s spent the last seven years as a tattoo artist but moved to Midtown only a year ago. Now he’s 33 years old, but according to MySpace, he’s 28. Hmm, let’s see: Carry the one, and you’ve got Gorgeous George, artist at Legacy Inc. Tattoo Studio (2790 21st Street, www.legacyinktattoo.com). Not only does George throw down a mean tattoo, but he’s also got a way of lighting up a room wherever he goes.
How have you established a careerin Sacramento?
Through networking and also doing things like [setting] up a booth at the Rainbow Festival last year; I’m part of the gay community, so it’s huge for me to be a part of that. I was also featured at the Blue Wing gallery in February and also at the 20th Street Gallery.
Can we talk about gay tattoo-artist issues?
Does being gay in this industry present difficulties?
Being gay in the tattoo industry is difficult in general. Being taken seriously is difficult in general. [However,] through my personality and my ability as an artist, it hasn’t been an issue for me. I want to be a role model for other [gay people] who want to do things outside of the norm of what they think they can do. And I’ve been really fortunate to be with some amazing artists who have accepted me for who I am and [who are] not worried about the gay thing.
Have you been discriminated against?
I think it’s different for me, because people maybe can’t tell off the bat that I’m gay—
(Laughs.) All right! What was the question again?
I don’t know. How do you describe your tattooing style?
I’m an American traditional artist. I was taught those values by my first teacher. The reason I like that style is because it’s something that has been around since the ’40s and ’50s; it’s that use of black in tattoos. … I appreciate the lessons in traditional tattooing.
Did it take you along time to learn?
I was a pretty fast learner as far as apprenticeship goes. I never used a tattoo machine, but I went to college for design, so I developed a skill. This was taking my skill and putting it to a new medium; transitioning to that medium was difficult at first. I was so nervous on my first tattoo.
Was your victim a friend?
It was a friend. It was someone I worked with back in the day. She knew it was going to be my first tattoo. The owners of the shop and the lead artist totally played a joke on me. They had her pick a Celtic design, which is a very difficult design, especially for your first tattoo. I totally got lost in my design and I remember running into the bathroom just to compose myself. I looked in the mirror and said, “This is your destiny and you need to fucking get back out there and own it.”
Like Eminem in 8 Mile!
Dude, it was. I mean, there’s nothing more stressful than putting something permanent on someone in the beginning. Now, at this point in my career, there’s nothing more gratifying.
With so many tattoo shops in Sac, what about this shop sets it apart?
I like to work for Legacy because we are a custom shop. We’re not based on figures or numbers; we’re based on doing quality artwork—thought out, planned out, researched. [If I was doing] a goldfish tattoo, I want [to get] an actual image of a goldfish. I don’t ever want to just go off what’s in my head. There are so many details that we don’t notice until we actually see a live reference. I take my craft seriously … and if I am breaking a rule for an artistic reason, I at least want to know I’m breaking it knowing the right way and also doing it in an artistic way.
When you say “rule,” is it like a tattooing rule?
It’s kind of like the rule. If you’re going to put something on someone forever, don’t you want it to be right? Or it’s the “I’m going to go to bed at night with a clear conscience” rule.
If I write something shitty, it goes away the next week. What is it like when you mess up?
Since this is going to the public: I’d like to say that I don’t fuck up. Actually, that’s what the early lessons are for. That’s why you’re supposed to pay attention to your teachers. Composition, no matter what you do, is composition. Whether it’s on a piece of paper, a wall, on a body, [composition] always has to be there. You don’t ever want your compositions to be fucked up.
Why is your right arm tattooless?
The lower part is being saved for when I’m 40. I have clients that are well into their 40s, 50s, 60s, [and I know] how much they appreciate being tattooed; I’m saving prime real estate for that time.