Nick Baxter one of the iconic figures of tattoo industry was interviewed by Piercingntattoos.com to reveal his mind and soul inside and outside the tattooing world. He’s not only a tattooist but an actor, a painter, photographer as well as a writer. He’s the most eligible bachelor in the tattooing industry, who’d not like if you won’t wish him on his birthday i.e. on 5th September 😉 Born at New Haven, Connecticut, now plans to move from Transcend Tattoo, CT, to Austin, Texas, with his friend and fellow artist Jeff Ensminger, Dallas.
This winner of many tattoo convention awards: best sleeve, tattoo of day, etc., will be now seen off and on in CT. Let’s hear more about him in his own words in this interview.
Disha Singh: It’s been about eight years in the tattoo industry, how does it feel and how have things changed regarding your inking over the years?
Nick Baxter: Being 8 years into it feels great, I feel like I have accomplished so much of what I originally set out to do. I love having a network of friends and colleagues whom I travel the world with, work on fun art with, help inspire, and be inspired by. Pretty much everything has changed since I started, it’s completely different now‹a lot has changed in the industry, too, it’s really exploded in popularity and talent level. However, in some ways nothing has changed – I still feel like I’m just me, doing what I love to do, just like always. I till have so much to learn and experience and I still feel young, and like a beginner at times, because there are still many goals I haven’t reached yet and aspects of my art and technique I want to improve.
Nick Baxter: It was completely nerve-wracking. I was scared and excited, and overwhelmed with all the things you need to remember to do while tattooing. It felt great though, I had a real sense of accomplishment.
Disha: What’s the inspiration behind your creative tattoo designs?
Nick: It could be anything, really. Life in general is inspiration, all the experiences and memories and emotions and thoughts and interesting things that comprise it. I try to tap into whatever type of inspiration I need for the particular project I’m working on.
Disha: Who are some of your influences, inside and outside of tattooing?
Nick: I have many influences and try to be eclectic, so it’s hard to form any kind of complete list, so just a portion of them I can think of right now are Salvador Dali, J.P. Witkin, Simen Johan, Mark Kessel, H.R. Giger, Guy Aitchison, Tim Hawkinson, Nikko Hurtado, Cindy Sherman, Richard Estes and all Photorealist painters, Charles Santarpia, Megan Merrell, Todd Schorr, Alex Grey, Caravaggio, Michaelangelo, Ron English, Eric White, Leonardo DaVinci, Adrian Dominic, Jeff Ensminger, Russell Mills.
Nick: These are all different aspects of my one driving creative energy. I get to express different parts of myself in each medium, and explore different themes and concepts. I also get to develop and refine different artistic disciplines and physical skills, or crafts. My painting and photography is very meticulous, refined, almost clinical in its approach to technique and subject matter, which appears often to be the opposite of those qualities‹very organic, warm, visceral. My tattooing is more spontaneous, loose, and holistic in its approach.
Disha: You have received many awards, what are the memorable conventions you’ve gone to and is there any target in your mind to be achieved?
Nick: I’ve always loved attending the Hell City tattoo conventions every year, because they are really well put together, organized, fun, and especially accommodating to the artists. I don’t have a target in my mind to achieve at conventions aside from just having a good time and producing some good work if I can.
Disha: What’s your imagination like? How long will you sit and think about a tattoo design before you actually ink it? Do you just bang it out in one shot or do you chip away at it on paper until it’s perfect and then on skin?
Nick: My imagination is a constant back and forth tug of war between the right and left brains, opposing urges for order and rationality and structure, and the opposite attributes of chaos, feeling, intuition. It’s like a never ending lottery-ball machines I definitely feel like I think too much. My tattoo conception process usually involves much more thinking at first than actual drawing. I’ll picture things in my mind, then look at reference materials for ideas and inspiration, then when I sit down to draw it usually gets completed all at once. I don’t bother with making the drawing perfect, in order to allow myself the freedom to create more on skin, and leave the tattooing process open to intuition and spontaneity.
Disha: Are you a perfectionist? Are there any tattoos, paintings, etc. that you wish you could change?
Nick: I am, for better and for worse, an unrelenting perfectionist. There’s a saying that makes me laugh at myself that goes: Perfect isn’t good enough. I analyze everything after I do it and always find something I could improve or try to do differently.
Disha: How much do you charge for a piece?
Nick: I charge an hourly rate for tattoos, and my paintings are reasonably priced as far as fine art prices are concerned, considering the amount of time and effort I put into them.
Nick: I like the outdoors and nature, creativity, positivity, problem solving, meeting challenges and goals, learning, nice people, animals, hardcore/punk music, freedom, living a vegan straightedge lifestyle. I generally really dislike any form of coercion and violence in order to control other people, or animals, as well as war and fighting, intolerance, suffering and despair, and all those associated ills of the world.
Disha: How did the idea of becoming a tattoo artist come to your mind? Were your parents comfortable with your decision to become a tattoo artist?
Nick: I was always fascinated by body art because it was rebellious, somewhat mysterious, and a really unique way to express yourself. I started to become interested in pursuing it in my mid-teens, and my parents were very unsupportive of that at the time. I think they were uncomfortable with me being a tattoo artist at first, but once they saw that it could be a legitimate, respectable career that could do positive things for me and my life, their opinions changed drastically. Now they support and respect me.
Disha: What we see Nick doing when he is not tattooing?
Nick: Usually I’m making some kind of other art, like painting, drawing, photography, or writing. I also like to experience the outdoors, play sports, read, listen to music, go to hardcore/punk shows, go to art galleries and museums, eat awesome vegan food, meditate, hang out with my cats and human friends.
Nick: I use mostly Pulse tattoo machines, and 3 brands of tattoo inks: Eternal, Starbrite, and Unique.
Disha: What do you think about FREEDOM -2 ink?
Nick: I’ve never tried it, and haven’t heard much about it. It seems like a great idea. I don’t have much interest in it as of yet, but I am curious to see if it works and if it stays looking great over time.
Disha: Finally, what suggestions do you have for the newbie in the industry and especially to those who want to get tattooed?
Nick: For new tattooists or apprentices, I recommend to stay focused on your art at all costs, be willing to put hours of every single day into study and practice, and stay disciplined. Be honest with yourself and develop a good sense of self-critique. Be hungry for knowledge, but don’t be too proud or afraid to go back to basics whenever necessary, whenever you feel stuck, or frustrated. For potential tattoo collectors, I recommend to be patient and do your research and homework first. You can read an article I co-wrote just for new tattoo collectors, at this address: http://www.offthemaptattoo.com/get-the-perfect-tattoo.html
Thanks for your precious time Nick, it was great to know your better!