Todd Woodz of the Magic Cobra Tattoo Society in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been in the business for six years.
Read up on his style and inspiration, then have a look at some of his favorite work below.
How did you get your start?
A friend of a friend who was a tattooer saw my drawings and paintings, and he suggested I try my hand at tattooing. He pointed me in the right direction as far as tools and technique, and after a couple of years of fumbling around, I finally got the hang of it and got myself into a shop. I wish I had a formal apprenticeship. It would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. I never saw myself as a tattooer, but I've always been an artist at heart.
What's your tattoo style of choice and why?
Neo-traditional. I just really love bold colors, heavy shading and solid lines — the fundamentals of traditional tattooing mixed with a new take on content and composition.
What do you think makes tattoos special?
I just think they're a great way to express your individuality and distinguish yourself from others in a more permanent way. I think everyone wants to be at least a bit different from everyone else around them, and tattoos enable that.
Tattoos seem so mainstream now. Is that good or bad?
I think it's a great thing. Obviously, the more people getting tattooed helps the business. And I feel that generally, people are becoming more informed about the craft, so you find more people doing their research to find a quality tattooer. You're always going to have people who think they can just pick up a machine and start tattooing overnight because they see it on TV, but those people typically don't last. I think if you take this art seriously and work hard, the mainstream appeal is completely beneficial.
Do you see a current trend in the industry?
Trends go in cycles. But generally, traditional tattoos are always popular. There are so many great tattooers pushing the envelope and doing new things. I see so many different styles. It's really expanded past just traditional tattooing, but that's a style that will always last, in my opinion.
Do you have any funny tattoo stories?
I look back at the tattoos I gave myself as a teenager and laugh every time I see them. They're very funny.
Which piece of work has been your favorite?
I did a sleeve of the Sagrada Familia, a famous cathedral in Barcelona designed by Guadi. I was lucky enough to travel there and take all of the reference pictures myself a few weeks before tattooing it. It was just a really fun and challenging piece that I think came out great.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from all around me. Everything I see throughout the day, the people I meet, and the artists I admire all inspire me. It's really everywhere.
Do you have a message for aspiring artists?
Nose to the grindstone. If you want it bad enough, it's yours to have. I also think you have to be critical of yourself. If you think you're the best, you might want to think again.
Have a look at some of Todd's best work below.