We recently caught up with Sol collaborator and Sydney based tattooist Ryan Ussher. Ryan's career started with a firm base in a busy street shop environment that gave him skills across a broad range of styles. Since then, he has taken his work to various cities across the UK, Europe and North America, taking bits and pieces of inspiration and honing his skills as he went. Ryan has since found a his home tattooing at Lighthouse Tattoo, an appointment only, private studio in Sydney. Here he has focussed his style into producing bold, distinctive custom Japanese and neo-traditional pieces, always aiming to add some grit.
What do you classify yourself as? Artist or tattooist?
I classify myself as both really. I make tattoo art and I also make other art. However it is all influenced by tattoos and tattoo culture, so I guess I would say I am a Tattoo Artist.
How did you get started in the tattoo industry?
I always wanted to make tattoos and started looking for an "in" before I had even left school. It was a bit of a hard slog at such a young age, as this industry takes a lot of dedication to make your point. After trying to find an apprenticeship for quite some time, I ended up travelling for a few years and doing whatever work I could find, wherever I was. Once I settled back in Sydney I started looking again and got offered a counter hand job in a busy walk in street shop. After the particular artist I was working for got the sack, they threw me in the chair and told me i was the replacement! I had practised a bit by this stage but didn't really feel ready. But I knew this chance wasn't an easy one to come by so it was sink or swim. Here I am 10 years later..
Do you have any artistic / stylistic influences?
I definitely love the Japanese influenced tattoos. It is a style and culture that has been around for such a long time and it is a style that never looses it's place amongst all the other passing trends in tattoo art/society. There are some rules to the way the art is made and these are always a challenge. I like that side of it and also the awesome stories that go with the images. If Japanese influenced artwork is portrayed correctly, it will always tell a story.
You recently collaborated with us on a custom Mercury. What were some of the more challenging aspects associated with designing the piece for a motorcycle tank as opposed to for someones body?
To be honest, the process of this was very similar. I guess the image process was thought out in a way that needed to look great as a whole piece but also look great when viewed from angles where the rest of the piece was not visible. I guess when you are doing a tattoo it is very similar. But the angles of the tank are more rigid than a human body and I needed to allow for that in the design process. There is a formula to figure out when approaching all kinds of art and projects. Once you figure that out in your head it gets a bit easier. It was the same with the tank. Really fun!
What would be your dream project?
I'm living my dream project really. To be a tattoo artist was my dream growing up and when I became one, the next challenge was being able to tattoo my own artwork on people and have people come to me for the style I personally execute. I am lucky enough to have clients that like what I do and put a heap of trust in me to do it that way for them. However, throw me your ideas, you never know!!