I was born in 1968 and completed high school in 1985. I served as an apprentice at The Jacklich Corporation in the art department from 1985 to 1986, then painted record covers from 1986-1990 for the likes of Vinnie Moore, David Chastain, Apocrypha, Hexx, Skatenigs, etc., mostly for California-based Shrapnel Records, completing a total of about 40 covers. In 1989 I began tattooing, apprenticing at Bob Oslon's Custom Tattooing in Chicago for two years until 1991. I then opened my own tattoo studio, Guilty & Innocent Productions, which remained a top-standing shop in the area until I closed it in 1998 so that I could move to the country and paint more. My tattoo work has been published numerous times in tattoo magazines, including Outlaw Biker Tattoo Review, Easyrider Tattoo, Skin Art, Skin&Ink, International Tattoo Art and others. My paintings have been published in Art Alternatives and Savage magazine. Fine art books showing both types of work include Victoria Lauptman's The New Tattoo, Bill DeMichelle's The Illustrated Woman and Don Ed Hardy's Eye Tattooed America. My own desktop-published tattoo manuals, The Graphic Language for Tattooists and Special Effects for Tattooists, have sold thousands of copies to tattooists worldwide, and the seminars I give at tattoo conventions draw hundreds every year. Exhibitions have included the Karen Briede Gallery, Chicago 1992, Don Ed Hardy's Eye Tattooed America (touring show, which roamed the country for over a year), 1993, The Layaway Gallery, Chicago 1994, The Cleveland Independent Art Gallery, Cleveland Ohio 1994, and 2-South Gallery in Detroit, 1994 . Work of mine hung in the gallery at Spacetime Tanks, Chicago's sensory deprivation headquarters, from 1995 until summer 1999. Currently I have work showing at Brian Everett's Tattoo Gallery in Albuquerque, NM and Deluxe Tattoo in Chicago.
I have never considered either tattooing or painting to be more important to me, though they constantly battle for supremacy in my life. On the one hand, tattooing is a very critical type of commercial art, where success or failure of any given project has very deep implications for the client. This forces an extra degree of dedication and flexibility on the part of the artist, and the clients' participation helps maintain a flow of fresh ideas and images into the artist's bag of tricks. On the other hand, painting lacks all the traditional constraints of tattooing such as size, budget, pain tolerance, eraseability and of course the client's tastes. It allows for a type of wild experimentation not normally recommended in tattooing, plus a chance to chase after obscure and specific personal notions that may not have much commercial appeal. I am very fortunate in that my client base is very trusting of me and for the large part, quite willing to give me almost total free reign on their skin. Naturally, I've taken advantage of this and allowed the subject matter of my paintings to leak across into my tattooing. A beautiful symbiosis has evolved from this, where each medium teaches me about the other. A certain amount of openness to newness exists because of the client's input, which prevents me from obsessively orbiting the same idea for ever and ever. My work tends to focus on natural geometry and organic structure. I have keen interests in science, science fiction, religion and religious art & architecture, and all types of psychedelic & transcendental art, which all filter down into my personal vision. I tend to avoid recognizable icons in favor of trying to focus on the underlying flow of ideas. I believe that there exists a family of archetypal forms, non-iconographic images which nonetheless convey their meaning to the viewer simply & directly, at a level possibly deeper and more universal than that accessible through the use of cultural iconography. I feel that much of our art is an effort to access these archetypes, possibly by lining up those known icons which most closely emulate the intent of the underlying universal form. Whether or not these universal images can be captured in their naked form and rendered as art pieces remains the single largest question in my life.
I enjoy working in many mediums. Photography, tattooing, painting and writing music are large parts of my artistic focus and output. As varied as they may seem, they all spawn from the creative force within me. I find that being versatile in how I apply myself artistically helps me to maintain a fresh perspective as well as to visualize and express composition on many levels.
Transcript of an interview with Guy and Michele by Julie Rico
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