I came across Gerry Kramer’s work while searching for images of Klimt painting tattoos. When I saw the way his tattoos come to life on the skin, I knew I had to introduce Furies readers to his work!
Furies Magazine: What led you to tattooing?
Gerry Kramer: When I turned 19, I got tattooed. And I knew from the second it started that I was hooked. It was just a matter of course really, I started drawing up all of my own tattoos, then for all my friends – and the tattoo artist we were all getting our work done from needed somebody to help him work his shop. I’m sure I was a terrible customer…always asking what he was using, how it worked, and what he was doing it that way for. Somehow we became friends. He was really generous with his craft, he took me on as an apprentice and taught me how to tattoo.
Furies Magazine: Where did you start out tattooing? Do you prefer to be called a tattooer or tattoo artist?
Gerry Kramer: I started out tattooing in a little hole-in-the-wall shop here in Victoria called Stark Raving Tattoo. The owner of the shop tattooed a lot of the punk kids in my town, and we really hit it off. When I did finally ask him to teach me to tattoo he said, “I want to, but we’ll stop being friends”. I’m sad to say he was totally right. I respect the hell out of him for giving me the keys to the kingdom, but we are most definitely not the friends we used to be. I blame the apprentice/mentor dynamic. And myself, I guess. He made a big deal about the difference between ‘tattoo artists’ and ‘tattooers’. It always resonated with me, and I’ve always gone by tattooer. It seems to fit me better.
Furies Magazine: What is your favorite style to tattoo?
Gerry Kramer: I’m not really sure. I really like to put tattoos on people. I’m not really hung up on a ‘style’, but I definitely see that most of the tattoos I love resonate with me in some way. I guess I really like doing semi-traditional subject matter with loads of extra illustrative details. If that makes any sense.
Furies Magazine: Do you find tattoos changing with trends?
Gerry Kramer: Absolutely. Tattooing has always been influenced by pop culture, and there’s no real reason for that to change. It’s probably become more apparent with the advent of social media, and even though there has been a real surge for custom tattooing, a lot of the reference material is coming from the first page of Google.
Furies Magazine: Do you have a favorite tattoo convention, and, why?
Gerry Kramer: I really like the Calgary tattoo Convention. It’s full of loads of fantastic tattooers, and its put on with tattooers in mind. They really take care of the tattooers and care that we have an excellent experience. Little details like not having to rent extra chairs or tables, providing vegan friendly food, etc, are what springs to mind for me.
Furies Magazine: Any piece of advice for that Tattoo Virgin?
Gerry Kramer: Just the usual. Do your research. Find someone who inspires you. And who makes you comfortable. One of the most important things to remember is that a tattooer’s portfolio is showcasing the very BEST of what they think they can do. If there are things that don’t sit right with you, then there is nothing wrong with choosing someone else.
Websites are a great resource for this. I try and keep both websites of mine (www.tattoozoo.net and www.gerrykramer.com) clean and simple. Easy to navigate with lots of pictures to look at. I think it takes a lot of the pressure off if you can browse through portfolios online, and pick and choose without feeling like you’re hurting someone’s feelings. (You aren’t, by the way….tattooers have very thick skins)
Also…speak up! If you like something about someone’s work, say it. Also…if you dislike something about your upcoming design…mention it. Because once it’s done, it’s too late to change it!
Furies Magazine: Is there a piece you’ve done that stands out as your favorite?
Gerry Kramer: There is. My friend Leah had me do a Mucha-inspired portrait of her poodle, Cassie. I was soooo into doing it, and she was so receptive to most of my suggestions, that I feel like the end result is a perfect representation of how I want to tattoo all the time.
I think its something about the combination of art nouveau styles and animal portraits that is what I find incredibly interesting. There’s so many cool little details that can be added, and lots of neat tricks we can whip out to make things really pop off!
Furies Magazine: You can find Gerry’s work here:
Tattoo Zoo and Sons – 250.361.1952