by Lisa Sharer
Photos courtesy of John Reardon
From the December 2008 issue of PRICK Magazine.
A long time lover of tattoos, John Reardon always knew he
would someday pick up the machine and go to work. Early
on he was put in his place, which helped him to become the
self-made artist that he is today. With a style that is undefined and
a desire for continuous learning, itís no wonder that Reardon has
become quite accomplished in the industry. He also recently
became a published author with The Complete Idiotís Guide to Getting
a Tattoo, which is a guide dedicated to helping those people that are
looking to get their first tattoo and have no idea what they are doing.
Over all, movies, Wiener schnitzel, and ink spilling are not the only
things that describe Reardon, but itís a pretty good start into this tattoo
How long have you been tattooing and how did
I have been tattooing for twelve years. My dad had tattoos so I
always knew I was going to get tattooed. It wasn't until I finally got
one by Al at Jim's Tattoo in Seabrook, N.H. that I realized
I could do this. I had made the mistake of mentioning
this to Al as he was tattooing me. He put me in my place
real fast, but he made me respect tattooing.
The idea to learn how to tattoo came back to me just
before I graduated high school. My friend, Rick Sanger
told me at the local Bickfords in Hanover, Mass., that he
and a bunch of our friends had decided they were tired
of going to R.I. or N.H. to get tattooed (as it was illegal
to tattoo in Massachusetts at that time). They had collectively
come to the conclusion that since I was going
to art school it was my duty to learn how to tattoo.
I agreed, like an idiot, and I got some shitty kit out of
a magazine and hacked a few friends. Luckily, on the way
back from a rained out camping trip, we stopped in at
Jim's tattoo where a guy named Pete over heard my
friends talking about me trying to learn. He gave me
guidance, he sold me new sterilized needles, and I could
call him any time I had a question, which I did...a lot. I
never had an apprenticeship which I firmly believe is the
only way to learn how to tattoo properly. It would have saved me so
many headaches. I learned from so many different people after that.
How did you end up at Saved Tattoo?
Scott needed someone to work there. I needed to work with Scott
Campbell and Dan Trocchio.
Who/What are your influences?
My major influences right now are Scott Campbell, Dan Trocchio, and
Pushead. I hang out with Eli Quinters a lot, and we talk about tattoos
and tattooing. He is the one who taught me to really give a shit about
tattooing. He really made me put in the effort to constantly get better
at drawing and painting. I like working with Miki Foged in Miami, Fla. We
are always discussing or arguing how to make our shit better. Also,
everyone I work with at Saved. There are so many amazing tattooists in
NYC. Like Regino, O'Donnell. I keep learning from everyone, plus all the
people who come into town like Henry Lewis.
As far as non tattoo artists go, Jorden Haley has been a huge influence.
I just became aware of Aurel Schmidt's work. That is amazing and
How would you describe your style of tattooing? What
are your favorite subjects?
I don't know how to describe the style. Let someone else do that. I like
good ideas, innovative ideas that are able to be transferred into tattooing.
I like skulls, daggers, pretty ladies, swirly-do looking shit, snakes, dragons,
the usual...as long as I get to do it my way itís all good.
Tell us about the Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo,
and how you became a part of it?
Itís a book that answers all those questions people ask us all the time, again
and again. Itís for first-timers, but it also gets technical as far as how the
ink stays in the skin, the different kinds of designs, and how to go about
choosing a tattooist. I tried as best as I could to cover all the basics without
saying anything about actually doing tattoos.
My sister, Wendy Reardon, owns and teaches at Gipsy Rose Exotic
and Pole Dancing in Boston, Mass. She wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide
to Exotic and Pole Dancing. She told her editor, Paul Dinas, that I tattooed,
and his boss had been after him to do a book about tattoos. At first, I
didn't want to do it because I thought they wanted to do one about actually
doing tattoos. Doing tattoos was not in their interest, and I need to
pay off my student loans.
Do you do any other writing?
I would like to, but it takes up too much time. I am focusing on
tattooing with a side order of illustrating,
which is a tattoo on paper.
What advice would you give
other budding tattoo artists?
Black...use black, then add color. And
don't get married, even if she is hot, and
from Denmark, and good at tattooing...
What do you like to do outside
I watch too many movies. Alcohol
always seems to be around or its better
greener counterpart, which helps
with the movies. I watch Charlie Rose
a lot and a little follow up with some
Tavis Smiley. I am usually working on
something every day, but when I actually
take a day off and I am not painting
or drawing, I usually go to the Met and
then stroll through Central Park. I
visit other tattoo shops, I like riding
my bike around Brooklyn. Touristy
stuff is fun.
What would you do if you could have any other profession?
If I had to do something else, that didn't involve making pictures, then I would like to
work for the UN or at an embassy somewhere. Investigative reporting sounds like
fun, but I don't know if I could do it.
What's your favorite food?
Wiener schnitzel, and tacos, and grilled asparagus, or just to go eat at Sweetwater
Any future plans or final words?
Just working and moving forward. I am going to buy new pants after I pay off my credit
card. All my pants have ink stains. I tried buying black pants thinking that would disguise
the splatters and dropped a glob of light blue right on there the second day. So
I bought an apron, I figured that would solve my problem then ink dropped right on
the side of my lower leg. I guess I could pay more attention to what I am doing when
dipping for ink or opening the bottles...
153 Roebling St # 6
Brooklyn, NY 11211
For more information, go to www.johnreardontattoos.com
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