Hailing from Rock of Ages Tattoo in Texas, Steve Byrne‘s work clues you in on the good, the bad, and all the funny in between. His portfolio is like the Greenwich Village Halloween parade; where the weirdos call the shots while the squares gawk on the sidelines. The imagery is classic, American, iconic, and most importantly, steeped in Byrne’s own touches of wit, humor and excess. At the end of the day, all the punk rock spiking his designs translates into quality tattoos that are rendered expertly enough to be truly ageless- suspended in a mosh pit of color, story, and some of the finest lines around.
In my mind, the easiest way to define Steve’s work is to place it on a spectrum, one that runs from simple, singular designs all the way up to complex, multi-faceted pieces that seem to be his forté. The ‘simpler’ tattoos (among them an antlered skull and a tiger head) are easy to digest and stand on their own as examples of the artist’s traditional influences. But delving deeper, into his larger stuff, is where one can see the overarching narrative take place. Some of Steve’s larger works are, in one word, a montage, bringing together various ideas and symbols to form a tattoo in which nothing is merely ornamental.
As an example, I’m going to cite two tattoos of his that struck me as coming from the same vein- a thigh piece featuring a race horse and another piece, this one with too many focal points to choose from. The former borders on classic portraiture, with a frame and all, except for the snorting bronco and all the goodies surrounding it- most notably a deck of cards and a pair of dice. The second piece features a skull, complete with Slash-worthy top hat, bloodshot eyeballs, and a fair share of cards, dice, and fancy cigarette smoke. The two tattoos are a mish-mosh of the outlaw Americana that underlines Steve’s work. It’s a free range romance that we can’t get enough of, and scenes like his are one of the only places where it can keep on living. Steve also brings soemthing back into the very idea of the tattoo, back to when it all started on the fringes- the terrible pleasure of being beautifully, shamelessly scarred for life.
Steve Byrne puts the rock in Rock of Ages, which is located in cunningly charming Austin, Texas. His images are a representation of his own personality as much as they are custom design, and that’s what takes the beyond the flesh.
[+] STEVE BYRNE[Instagram]