An English tattooist who describes himself as “very driven and self critical”, and above all “hardworking”, but who actually has many other fine qualities – apart from his humility. Among these, for example, a huge talent for tattoo and an incredible ability to put ink onto skin as if it were a canvas.
In the following interview we chat with him about his colour work (at World Famous Ink), but also in general about his pieces, his technique, the most critical steps in his career and much more…
Hi Rich, would you like to introduce ourself to the readers of Tattoo Life and run over the various stages in your career as a tattoo artist?
My name is Rich Harris and I’ve been tattooing professionally for 7 years. I started out as an apprentice in July 2012 learning the basics, line work, shading and then progressed on to Black and Grey. Shortly after I began to take more interest in colour work. I think up until 2016 I felt I was doing the same as everyone else, getting lost in the crowd, I always knew I wanted to do something different with my work but couldn’t work out what over the years. Around March 2016 that year I was working on a design which was a fusion of my favourite styles.
The first piece in this style I made at Tattoo Tea Party and was lucky enough to win Best of Saturday. I’ve been working in this style ever since and continue to evolve every day.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself? Can you choose an adjective to describe yourself?
Iʼm very driven and self critical like most artists, but I’m always looking to improve and learn. If I had to choose an adjective to describe myself it would probably be “hardworking”.
And three adjectives to describe your tattoos?
Bold, Colourful and Creative.
From a technical point of view how has your art evolved and in what way have the tools you have chosen helped you along the way?
I think from when we start our careers in this industry we keep things small and simple, then naturally we progress, take inspiration and get braver to create bigger more dynamic pieces while learning new techniques along the way to make so I’m more efficient for the client.
My art evolves with me, everything I see in everyday life, places I visit, etc. I find I’m most creative when I’m on holiday, away from the noise.
I’ve always used Cheyenne machines throughout my career, mainly because they’re lightweight, have zero vibration, and need no maintenance if looked after properly. No nonsense, just press play and go!
Would you like to talk to us in particular about World Famous?
World Famous is such a great company run by great people, they really look after their artists and have such a great range of colours. Another really important thing for me is that they’re always at the European shows I attend which is a massive bonus if we need certain inks.
Why did you choose these inks and how have they helped you to do your tattoos and improve your performance?
World Famous have the biggest range of colours on the market currently and they are especially easy to mix. They have such an amazing tried and tested artist roster, which says it all.
Colour plays a crucial role in your work, isn’t that right? Can you describe it for us?
It does indeed. Don’t get me wrong, Black and Grey is beautiful and I enjoy it from time to time, but colour opens up so many more dimensions, so I can be more versatile with my work.
In what way, from a technical point of view, does it guarantee a tattoo that will last over time?
I think it comes from experience, we’re always learning and do our very best to find a process to create the least trauma to the skin but make sure our work is solid. Then the other half of the job is down to our clients, how they heal it and look after their skin for the rest of their life.
Can you tell us about the Dark Horse Collective?
Dark Horse Collective is my studio that I own with Jamie Lee Knott near Birmingham. We’ve been open 6 years this coming August 2020 and have a collective of great individual artists. Reece Mortiboys, Cara Vanessa, Hattie Cox, Lou Bragg, Tom Stephenson, Monny Koch, Isobel Morton and our super studio manager and piercer Emma Regan.
What are your inspirations and points of reference?
Literally everything I see. One thing Paul Talbot taught me was you can use literally anything providing you have a camera, from a crack in the pavement to an inspiration masterpiece in a gallery.
Is there anything else you like to do apart from tattoo?
Painting! I’ve been putting this off for so many years, this is the year I’m going to start! Football, travelling are among the other things I enjoy.
What plans have you got from a professional point of view for the new year and for the future in general?
After a really busy and successful 2019 my personal life suffered a little. It’s easy to get caught in that trap as our jobs are so enjoyable. 2020 is all about getting my life and work balance back on track, spending time with my daughter and enjoying my spare time a lot more…