Interview to Pat Fish, The Queen of Knots

5 January 2011

PATFISH PORTRAIT 150x150 Interview to Pat Fish, The Queen of KnotsName:  Pat Fish
Nickname: The Queen of Knots

1 How long do you do this work?
since 1984

2 Who taught you?
I learned to tattoo from Cliff Raven

3 There are tattoo artists that you consider your teachers or landmarks?
Right now I am most influenced by the people who are working in pointillism, I find that adding their techniques adds a new dimension to the work I am doing. These exemplars are Colin Dale, Cory Ferguson and Xed LeHead.

4 What was the first tattoo you’ve created?
I did a butterfly on the hip of a friend who was willing to let me practice on her when I was learning.

5 And what was the first that you brought in your skin?
I got a lifesized koi swimming around my shoulder by Cliff Raven. I immediately announced that I wanted to learn how to tattoo, showed him my portfolio from art school I had brought with me, and he graciously agreed to teach me.

6 Can you briefly describe your technique?
I am most interested in bringing the intricate knotwork from ancient Celtic illuminated manuscripts and the Pictish standing stones to life in skin. I work in a very simple way, mostly concerned with the quality of line and placement on the body in such a way as to enhance the musculature as kinetic sculpture.

7 Can you explain what is the art of Celtic tattoo?
The Celtic designs that we have handed down to us from antiquity have a grace and presence that holds my attention better than any other art form. I am charmed that the Picts of Scotland, my ancestors, were known as the “Pictorial People” by their tattoos. So these are indigenous European patterns, real “tribal” art for my own blood line.

8 What are you working on now?
My clients present me with challenges that I can never predict. I keep an extensive archive of reference material and I am always happy when they choose a new image that I have not yet tattooed, so that I can draw a new pattern. I am also licensing my designs for decals for use on mobil phones and automobiles, so this brings Celtic art to new visible mediums! I started a web site in 2001 where I sell my Celtic designs to people worldwide who wish to have them done by a local artist. I provide quality original designs and enjoy the knowledge that I provide more options to both tattoo artists and their clients. I add images to the collection every week as I create and install them, and have almost 1500 now online.

9. Philosophy:
I have always believed that tattoos are an externalization of internal aesthetics, and they attract people that you would want to know and scare away the ones that you wouldn’t! They are the way we can make an ass into a zebra.

Cliff Raven taught me that there are three equal parts to tattooing: ART, CRAFT, and MORALS. It is not enough to be an artist, you also must learn the skill of the craftsperson, and also have the moral sense to do tattoos that you believe are life-enhancing. I am sure that I affect the lives of everyone I touch in a personal, permanent, way. So I take that responsibility very seriously.

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