An interview with Tattoo Artist Oliver Ayre
We did a virtual question interview with one of our favorite tattoo artists and YouTuber, OliverAyre. We wanted to share with you an insight into his work and the tattoo industry.
What advice do you give people before the come for a long sitting with you?
I would tell them to grab a good nights sleep the night before, and keep well hydrated the day before too, it just helps prepare the body for a long session, some people tend to sweat a little when they get tattooed so it helps with that, to drink a good 3 litres a day before, also on the morning of the tattoo make sure you get a good meal, carbs are best! Many people think sugar is good for a tattoo session but it’s the carbs that do best with keeping the body going. Also keeping hydrated while your getting tattooed is essential.
I’m guilty of thinking sugar is best for tattoo sessions too! How do you mentally prepare for those long sessions?
I keep my body healthy, I drink a lot of water and try to eat well, sleep is the most important thing! I try getting 9-10 hours of sleep a night especially if I know I have to tattoo the next day, I find it helps massively with my concentration. With preparing my mind for a tattoo, I start to think of how it’s going to look in my head the day before, this is just something I naturally do, it’s just how my mind works. Then when I get to the studio in the morning I start to prepare the design I’ve had in my head over the last day or so with my client. The reason I design on the day of the tattoo is because sometimes you get clients changing what they want last minute. And it’s very annoying when I’ve spent 2 hours making the design and the client comes in the next day changing it to something completely different, it’s just a waste of my time so I design live in front of my client on the day.
That sounds so efficient! Do you find your work attracts a specific type or clientele?
That’s an interesting question, because now I think about it, I don’t know what it is about my work but I have mainly male clients. Maybe it’s just the style I do but who knows.
So, do you ever turn down clients that want you to tattoo pieces you aren’t a fan of?
Yes! First of all I try and work with everybody who emails me about a potential project, I give my vision on what I think would look great and put my spin on what they want but sometimes I have to turn down someone who doesn’t want to budge on their design, I’ve worked hard do be in this position and I’m very lucky to have a choice to do that. But I’d always want to try and work with someone.
And at the end of the day its your work on them so it’s gotta be something you love too. Whats your views on clients using numbing creams?
Personally I don’t have a problem with my clients using numbing cream if they honestly can’t handle the pain, although having said this it does effect the skins texture, and it does make the skin red so it does make my job harder with trying to achieve the absolute best standard of my work on someone’s skin if they have used numbing cream.
Thats an interesting point, quality when it comes to a tattoo is so important! What was your first tattoo?
My first tattoo I got was when I was 18, 3 roses for my Grandad Poppa. And the first tattoo I ever did on someone was my Mum, I put an outline of a heart on her leg.
What do tattoos mean to you?
Tattoos are a great form of art! They have come a hell of a long way in the last 10 years. Especially with amazing brands making great equipment to achieve a greater level of intricacy. But I think tattoos can be whatever you want them to be, I have meaningful tattoos and I also have tattoos that I just loved the look of, the great thing about a tattoo or any other forms of art is that you can express yourself through them.
I hate it when people ask ‘how many tattoos do you have’ so, im gunna ask – What percentage of your body is covered? Are you planning anymore?
Haha thanks! I have probably 80% of my body done, so many unfinished ones that I really need to get finished, thanks for reminding me! 😉
It’s never ending when you start filling up body parts. I have more in the future booked in for sure! I need to start filling my legs out now.
How do you feel about the tattoo ‘epidemic’ where experiencing? (Where everyone seems to have them, and a lot of people have the same ones too)
I think it’s great for the industry! Only makes the industry better! Rappers putting it in their lyrics etc. It’s all good press for this industry! It’s only going to get bigger. And I’m all here for that!
Yes! I agree. Its great that everyone can appreciate and accept them much more now too. What other mediums do you work in, aside from tattooing?
I write and produce music too, I love to sing and create music, I’m actually about to drop my first track under the name “YXNG LXCIFER” so keep an eye out for that. Hitting All major platforms soon.
Thats so interesting! We’re excited to hear it. What inspires you as an artist?
Other artists doing amazing work inspires me to be better. And to try out new things. That’s the beauty of social media you have so many amazing artists to look at.
Can you talk a little bit about your journey to your current style? How long have you been doing it and what kind of stuff did you start out doing?
So I first started tattooing 5 and a half years ago. Started with the style dotwork because I was really really nervous about shading with mags. I just didn’t know how. I didn’t know any techniques. I taught myself and there was literally no information out on different techniques or what needles to use for what technique or anything. So I had to take things into my own hands and study any sort of information I could get my hands on. Wether that be an interview from an artist I looked up to, or a 30 second clip of them tattooing on a promo dvd or something. I would look at how their hand moves and try and emulate that. Eventually I saw progress and took a dive into shading with mags and just stuck at it. The first time didn’t turn out too well though. But overtime practicing I eventually saw progress. One of the things I used to do is whenever there would be a big tattoo convention where a lot of the best tattooist were working at. I would take my camera and zoom into their techniques and just stand there recording them tattooing for hours. And go back home and study it like crazy! Surprised no one got annoyed! So shoutout to those artists!
I think that level of commitment has really paid off in your quality of work. How do you see your style evolving?
I think My style has changed in the last couple years only ever so slightly but for the better. Using smaller needle groupings allows me to get more intricate. Get more details in my work. And I use lighter tones of ink in lighter areas to gain as much contrast as possible! Against the dark areas of the tattoo. I find my work stands out a lot better! The trick to a great eye capturing piece is contrast using the skin as a negative so the piece has as much depth to it as possible.
What would you say is your most favourite piece of artwork you’ve done? (tattoo or otherwise)
That’s a hard question, I’ve recently been tattooing fake skin because of the Covid-19 pandemic. And I tattooed a portrait of 50 Cent that came out pretty cool. One tattoo does spring to mind though, and that’s the solider I did on one of my clients, back end of last year. I love doing war style pieces and this one stands out with the texture I manage to get on his face
If you had any advice to give to an aspiring artist, what would it be?
If I would have to give one piece of advice to an aspiring artist I would say do your best to study the right way. Not all apprenticeships in a shop is the right way to go. Not every studio you walk into will know good techniques or do things the right way. Ive learnt that the hard way. Normally someone that tattoos amazingly will know great information. I mean there’s so many different types of information out there now it’s the best time to get into the industry because you can literally pick and choose who you want to learn from with so many Seminars and courses coming out now.
Do you think Instagram, YouTube and social media have played a crucial part in your success as an artist?
I think Social media is a great tool to use to learn and to gain knowledge in things you can’t find anywhere else. I started my YouTube channel “Oliver Ayre” 3 years ago to help artists with techniques and skills no one else would show you. There was nowhere to look for to get help. I’d like to think I was one of the first people to really give away the “secrets” in tattooing. I started my channel in the hope that if someone stumbled across it, it would literally be like stumbling across a big treasure chest of tattoo techniques tutorials, tips and secrets that I expose and help explain in the easiest way possible.
I started my Chanel because no one else would help me when I was starting out 5 and a half years ago. I had to really dig deep to find these techniques out. So I get the most out of what I do by teaching people. I think that’s what I will always keep doing.
I just dropped an Online Tattooing Course dedicated to helping artists grow too! www.tattoocoaching.com
It gives beginner to advanced artists a full breakdown of my experiences in the industry and the way I tattoo showing my techniques in great depth! Everything I know about tattooing is in this course! I spent a whole year filming and building the website so I’m proud of it! I truly believe it’s the most real course in black and grey tattooing out there. After looking at what other courses were missing I made sure to put in. not missing out vital information I believe artists should know! I simplified everything so it’s way more easier to learn and to understand. So yeah go check that out if your serious about wanting to become a tattoo artist. www.tattoocoaching.com
I love that you’re doing that! It so innovative. Whats your goals for the future?
Well due to the Pandemic I lost my studio so I’m currently looking to set up another studio in a different location, which is proving very difficult at the minute because not many places want to change use of buildings! So I’m hoping to get back tattooing for the 12th of April when things kick off again. But other than that I go live on My YouTube channel tattooing in real time working on fake skin until I can tattoo humans beings again. Also doing my music on the side too which is a hobby I enjoy doing if I need to take a quick break from tattooing. I think finding a hobby outside of tattooing keeps me sane! It’s nice to shut your tattooing mind off once in a while.
A huge thank you to Oliver for taking the time to do this feature with us.
Check out his Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/oliverayre
and his Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdjj9j-Aaquo2_vmvf4eZzQ (or search Oliver Ayre)