A Week in Tattoo Art: @house_of_ruin

By no means experts in the ancient tradition of tattooage, we have never-the-less selected some of our favorite artists working with the medium at the moment. This week, we highlight a handful of the many talents making work at the intersection of visual art and body modification. Check back daily to see tattoo and flash works from artists turning their untraditional designs into eternal mementos.

Where are you from and what do you do?
I’m House of Ruin. I’m from the Pacific NW. I do stick and poke tattoos.

How did you get into tattoo art?
I started getting tattoos as soon as I could. Which for me was 18. I’d save up and get some work done on and off. Everyone seemed to have tattoos where I grew up so it didn’t feel crazy. I was introduced to sewing needle and india ink stick and pokes when I was 20 which really kicked things off since I could do things at my own leisure for free.

What was your first tattoo?
Some clusters of colorful pansies on my feet with stars.

Do you tattoo your own body? If yes, what tattoos have you given yourself?
I don’t tattoo myself much anymore. Especially being in NY for a while, I’ve gotten to know so many awesome tattoo artists. I’ve traded for a lot of work. It’s kind of hard to have ideas for yourself that stick. It’s part of why people go to artists to begin with. I’ve rarely wanted my “own” work. I did a lot though in the past. A lot of small things…

Do you have any tattoos you regret? Are there any you regret giving?
Never. There’s things I don’t care about so much, but they’ve been drowned out by more tattoos. In general I usually don’t regret things, even if they’re disappointing or bad choices, so I can’t imagine a time I’ll ever feel like I wish I didn’t have tattoos. There have been very few tattoos I’ve done that stand out as not having gone perfect or have healed weird, but even those I’ve learned so much from. Doing stick and poke has probably protected me from making many of the mistakes people do when they’re learning how to tattoo. There are so many more variables and things move so fast with the machine, its super intimidating.

Do you consider your work to be political?
No. The environment I grew up around was pretty loud and alternative and my family wasn’t religious or very conservative. I understand that for many, getting tattooed can be a powerful act of empowerment or rebellion, but my personal associations are that of decoration and adornment. I think they’re beautiful.

What is it about tattooing that appeals over other forms of visual art?
Tattooing isn’t actually my main practice, but I do love it. It’s actually more intense than most other things I work on because the person getting tattooed is the one living with the work. The drawings are mine, but by the time its actually happening it’s really not about me at all. It’s heavy to have people trust you like that, but also so rewarding to offer such an ephemeral, emotional service. The work lives on without me.

Are there any themes you work with regularly?
When I’m going into drawing flash and designs I usually look at museum archives and paintings first. It’s a good way to get started and have diverse motifs to build from. I’m sure people would get angels and horse riders forever, but I like to mix things around. I always include some cartoon characters or strange shoes, daggers, which no one usually gets, but I like to draw them anyway.


Are there any artists or movements now or in the history of tattooing that inspire you?
I think what’s most exciting right now is that so many people are approaching tattooing without the stigma of following in traditional practices. As much as I respect the artists that are technical masters or that are dedicated to maintaining traditions, there’s so much more possible. A lot of tattoo culture has been a boys club or been aggressive to alternative practices and I’m so glad to see people stepping up and offering a vision of something different. @kyle.england, @jane_alley, @youandimustbutterfly (@hardworldpiglet), @tattoo.tales, @scariest_thug_ever, @pacing_tiger, @christinagemora, are some of the amazing artists I’ve gotten work by ^_^

What is your most meaningful tattoo?
None stand above the rest. There’s never just one.


See our full Week in Tattoo Art here :)