Our Artist Spotlight is on John Slater of Little John’s Tattoo. The shop is located in Greensboro, NC on S Aycock St,. John’s not only a talented artist whose work is clean, sharp and very impressive but like the original tattoo artists of yesterday he crafts his own machines.
We caught up with John between conventions and banging out custom tattoos for his clients:
AnoTat2: How long have you been a tattoo artist?
John: I have been tattooing (in a tattoo shop!) for over a decade.
AnoTat2: Where did you do your apprenticeship?
John: I was fortunate enough to have a traditional apprenticeship under Lino Gil. a very traditional apprenticeship. I learned to tattoo, spitshade flash, make my own needles, tune machines; a lot of things that seem to be forgotten sometimes.
AnoTat2: What artist(s) have influenced you and your work over the years?
John: Folks like John Williams, John Black, Dietsch, DJ Neundorf, Aron Moodie, who build tattoo machines as well as tattoo. Tattoo artists like James Vaughn, Jason Spainhour, Dave Kruseman, Mike Wooten, Sarah Peacock, Bart Andrews, Noel Hare, and Little John Bury. Artists who are comfortable with any style of tattooing and always do a clean, crisp tattoo.
AnoTat2: At what age did you first get tattooed?
John: Sooner than I should have. It was a mistake!!!
AnoTat2: I love traditional ink with the bold line work and simple colors. There are so many different styles of tattoos from old school, new school, portraits – which style is your favorite to do?
John: I definitely love the traditional values of Americana tattoos; bold lines, black shading- that’s the skeleton that holds your tattoo together. But I like a little twist; no matter what the subject matter, I still adhere to those values, I just bend the rules with an updated color palette. I try to outline everything that I can with black. Nothing gets to be considered classic unless it works, bold, black outlines work for a lifetime!
AnoTat2: I know every artist has tattoos they hate doing, a friend of mine can’t stand doing feet. Do you have any parts of the body you rather not ink?
John: Inside lips! Nothing about those are OK. Uncomfortable to get to, hard to apply, usually something silly that the customer doesn’t really want forever. I hate to put my hands in someone else’s mouth.
AnoTat2: Most tattoo artists we spoke to had turned away work due to either the person’s attitude or what they wanted to have tattooed on them – have you ever turned anybody away? If so what was the story behind it?
John: I have turned away hand tattoos. A lot more as of late. Don’t start your sleeve at the bottom, it could inhibit your career path.
AnoTat2: What do you use and recommend for aftercare?
John: Keep it simple! A good antibacterial soap, aquaphor, or a&d , a good, white, unscented lotion. I tried a new product called redemption and it works well. Afterlife is a good, new aftercare too. You can pronounce all of the ingredients of both of them, and that’s always good. Simple is always the way to go!
AnoTat2: What advice would you give someone looking for a new shop to get a tattoo (whether they are new to the area or their favorite artist has moved out of town).
John: Ask around- look at portfolios! Look for an artist based on their artistic ability, not if they can tattoo you right now. Talk to your artist first, if they won’t take the time to talk about your tattoo, will they take the time to really make your tattoo uniquely yours?
AnoTat2: Do attend any tattoo conventions? If so which ones?
John: I like going to the Cape Fear show, the Asheville show, and the Greensboro show. I hope to go to some others like Baltimore, St. Louis, Philly. There are a lot more conventions now!
AnoTat2: As a shop in this economy how do you keep people coming back beside turning out quality tattoos?
John: Show customers that you care about their tattoo. It is a permanent thing that will change the way others look at you forever. It’s a big decision, put some thought and effort into it. Compared to the lifetime of a tattoo, a day or two of planning seems like nothing.
AnoTat2: What do you think about all these tattoo shows on TV? Do you think it hurts or helps the industry?
John: It’s kind of a double edged sword. They are good in that the public is a little more aware about tattooing in general. It’s becoming more accepted. I haven’t seen one yet that really shows the whole story though. The extra hours spent at home preparing for a tattoo. It takes time to draw up a sleeve or back piece. We work hard for this, let’s show it! Also, ever seen anyone pay for their tattoo or even discuss prices? Tattoos are forever, they should cost more than a t-shirt!
You can book appointments with John at Little John’s Tattoo:
Address: 807 S Aycock St, Greensboro, NC 27403
Phone: (336) 275-7161
Follow on Instagram @JohnSl8r
~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴