Tattoo Artist: interview with Sean Herman

15 June 2011

How long have you done this work?
I have been tattooing for over 7 years now, and I’ve loved every second of it.

Who taught you?
I was fortunate enough to apprentice under Kele Idol at Aerochild Tattoo in Birmingham, AL. The shop owner, Justin Kontzen also played a huge role in my apprenticeship.
After that, it’s been a constant growing process, learning from all of those around me that I have been lucky enough to work with. Now, the shop I work at, Royal Street Tattoo, is a huge part in what I learn everyday, they teach me new things that I would have never thought of everyday. I’m very lucky to be in the situation I am in.

Are there tattoo artists that you consider your teachers or reference points?
The shop I apprenticed at, Aerochild, had a huge role in my education about anything involving tattooing. Kele taught me things about drawing that I am just now really starting to understand now.
Other artists played huge parts in changing the way I think, like Joshua Carlton. He challenged ideas that I had early on, and helped me think outside of a given box.
Famous Gabe at Hula Moon is a huge influence on my life, I really consider him a mentor to me.  Everytime I talk to him, he says things that really make me rethink anything I think I know about art and tattooing, and expand my mind constantly. I’m lucky to live so close to him and get to be around him.
And, as I said earlier, the guys at the shop, Royal Street, have definitely completely changed how I will ever think about tattooing, and art in general.

What was the first tattoo you created?
The first tattoo I ever did was on the piercer at Aerochild, Matt-O. It was a little monkey head that was the logo for a record label called No Idea.
I remember how amazing it was to do, and how much more I fell in love with tattooing that day.  There is nothing like the feeling of pulling a line, nothing in the world. It’s addictive.


And what was the first that you got on your own skin?
The first tattoo I ever got was when I was 16. My friend Jason Cline did it for me. It was a sacred heart on my back. I was in love with tattooing right away. I got another tattoo the next week, and it was all down hill from there.
I am so thankful for Jason, because without him, I would have never been able to be part of an art that I love, he got me into tattooing.

Can you describe your technique?
I think my technique is constantly changing. The only constant in my work is that it’s always changing, always different. I just try to be constantly learning, constantly taking things in and adding it to the ideas of what can be done in tattooing. There are so many techniques, so many styles, so many things to learn, it would be a pity to commit to just one, especially when there is so much fun to be had. Constant growth and learning is the key.

What is the most important thing in your work, your philosophy?
The most important thing in my work is that the client loves it. In the end, that’s all I care about. What matters is that the client loves the piece, that it will age well with them, and that they will always love it.
We are creating works of art that will stay with them forever, and I want to make sure that it brings them positivity and good things forever, everytime they look at it.

What are you working on now?
Trying to continue to growth. I spend more time now than I ever have doing drawings, and trying to really take my time with pieces. I want every aspect, every inch of the piece, to have the time dedicated to it that it deserves. I don’t want to rush through things, I want to make sure that everything is perfect for that client. So I guess the main thing I am working on is patience and slowing down.

- works at Royal Street Tattoo, 110 North Royal Street, Daphne (Alabama, USA)
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