What I admire most about Tim Hendricks‘ path to success as a tattoo artist is that it was totally D.I.Y. Growing up humbly in a house that supported his creativity. Tim started tattooing as a teenager, learning the art and the technology behind it from friends and mentors.
He built a network around himself that enabled him to work in various shops around California, all the while improving his skills and technical ability. His career since then has included television appearances, visits to countless conventions, and chances to surf and tattoo around the world. Tim’s artwork combines influences of his youth with the styles and inspiration he has collected through years of doing what he loves. He also builds custom tattoo tools and machines, making him a true craftsman and man of his trade.
Tim currently owns Classic Tattoo in Fullerton California, a staple of the neighborhood he grew up in. To check out Tim’s products, tattoos, and other artwork, or to get in contact with him, visit timhendricks.com.
Q 1 || When you were growing up in Fullerton, you were part of the surf/skate/punk scene, which introduced you to some of the people and lifestyles that influenced you as a tattoo artist. With technology becoming such a huge social platform, do you still see any remnants of that kind of subculture, or any counterculture at all in youth today?
Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in those scenes anymore, I never did. I do notice that kids stare at their phones more than anything else these days but I guess that’s just the way it is now. When I learned to tattoo there wasn’t social media, so their wasn’t as many distractions. My only distractions were alcohol, drugs and vagina.
Q 2 || As you were becoming a tattoo artist, did you ever feel that there was a sense of hierarchy in the tattoo scene that you had to beat?
There’s always hierarchy. I never felt challenged by it or threatened by it though, I just knew it was there and eventually if I worked hard enough and paid enough dues I’d be able to sit at the table with the elite… maybe.
Q 3 || One thing you mentioned in your previous descriptions of your artistic progression was that the power of simplicity is often overlooked. How can artists, many of which are perfectionists, abandon this addiction to detail and become more comfortable with the idea that less is more?
I can’t really recommend anything for others to do this, I can only tell you how I do it. I work with others who’s simple but smart way of tattooing impresses me, I try and soak up as much of their talent and pick as much of their brain as possible. I keep my mind open and my mouth shut, sometimes.
Q 4 || Something that sets you apart from other artists is that you take pride in building your own tools and machines. When you create a custom machine designed to fit the artist using it, what sorts of adjustments or additions do you make? What makes each machine different?
I just try and listen to what the tattooer wants, I ask him/her what they use at the moment and get a feel for how they might like the machine to run. If they want any aesthetic qualities added I’ll try and accommodate them as long as it doesn’t sacrifice the integrity of the way the machine runs.
Q 5 || You’ve tattooed the United States from coast to coast. How does today’s art and tattoo scene in New York or Miami differ from the one in, for example, Los Angeles or San Francisco?
It’s all the same to me really, just a bunch of outcasts that found tattooing and a sense of comradery. Tattooing is now all the same since the explosion of social media. Is used to be that there were different styles in different places, now it’s all blended together.
Q 6 || Your father played a big role in your improvement as an artist. How beneficial do you think a formal art education is to an artist? What could be the pros and cons (if any) of pursuing a degree in art, and is higher art education prevalent in the tattoo artist community?
Pros: Once you become a master of your trade tools you can apply all that art school crap to your tattoos.
Cons: your ego you learn in art school will hinder and slow down learning how to use your tattoo tools. You might never get past that and give up.
I have no formal art training, just a few 101 classes I say in on and all the stuff my dad taught me before he died when I was 12.
Q 7 || As an established artist, is there any style or medium that you haven’t tried yet and would like to?
Sculpting. It’ll never happen though, I don’t have the time.
Q 7 || Do you have any projects or appearances coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
Nope, ever since my back surgery I’m just glad I can even pick my kid up. Tattooing is now a luxury and I am just grateful I can whipshade tribal armbands over stretch marks again, all day every day, I just want to tattoo my heart out and fuck off to art projects and appearances.