Angeleno Robert Atkinson has been a tattoo artist for over two decades. Pursuing a calling that has taken him overseas and back, he now works out of Ten Thousand Waves, the shop recently opened in Sherman Oaks, CA alongside fellow artist Jojo Ackerman.
Though it’s difficult to describe him within the confines of one category, Robert has an edge that permeates each of his pieces. As the process begins, there’s a flow, a careful manipulation and curvature of linework that has been cultivated from a background in Japanese-style tatooing. This method is used to make sure the tattoo settles naturally into the rhythm of the body.
Then, Atkinson introduces a more contemporary element whether it be a geometric theme, bold monochrome, or his own play on texture. Creatures of his rendering have a manic fervor, yet remain frozen and delicate in their intricacies as if caught between mythology and life. Even some of the traditional Japanese imagery is done in a slightly unorthodox manner, saturated with color and showcasing innovations in pattern that result from an incredible confidence in one’s creative intuition.
In addition to other inspirations, Robert has also developed a shoe line for which he adorns plain canvas Vans with tattoo-inspired designs. Each celebrates classic themes while incorporating original concepts. Detailed and spiraling, the images on the left and right shoe interact with each other, adding yet another dimension to a simple product.
Atkinson’s shoe platform fosters an appreciation for all things beautiful. When artistic vision graces practical apparel, the result is quality and charm that livens up the everyday crush.
Robert is not afraid to dig out bits and pieces of himself and inject them into his works. While being careful to preserve the mystical and transgressive qualities of Oriental art, the slight additions and alterations he performs on traditional symbols provide Atkinson the opportunity to distinguish each piece as his own.
Despite their prevalence in tattoo art, Robert casts these symbols in a new light. Perhaps, under the enticing red glow of a naked lightbulb in a California Chinatown.