Meet Artist, Musician - Vincent Manco.
Q: How'd you get into Tattooing? (So many people are curious how one goes from saying, I can draw - to I'm going to be a tattoo artist...)
A: Let me first say this is a hard question to answer. Most tattooers (including myself) consider tattooing as much, if not more of a trade than an art. Being able to draw does not mean you should be a tattooist. I don't feel that a tattoo machine is an art supply but a tool of a trade. The deep interest, respect and understanding of tattooing's heritage are the most important traits a tattooistcan exhibit. Then again there are many different schools of thought to this, my viewpoint is that these tenets are far more important than drawing ability. Basically if you don't know how to become one, you shouldn't be one. It may sound harsh but I do this for a living and had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am. Saying "well I can draw I want to do this" trivializes what we get through to get where we are. There are so many things that must be understood before one should even be allowed to touch a machine. This is a business that can be lucrative, so people have a tendency to think its fast money. Its anything but. Our trades rich tradition must be protected at all costs, not made a staple of pop culture and tv shows. This mindset not only bolsters public safety by making sure that the tattooer understands sanitary methods, but also protects a very very important part of american culture that would be lost if the ones who came before me did not vehemently defend and carry the torch of the fathers of modern tattooing. C/S
Q: What inspires you to create?
The World. inspiration for images can come from anywhere. An archway, a detail on an old building, naturally occurring shapes. When I was younger I would go through stretches where I would not create because I always thought that art has to say something. I thought my ideas were either too straight forward or not profound enough. I often have these same problems with songwriting. I never want my mouth to open and just regurgitation fall out. Being a tattooer you have to create on the strictly aesthetic, so you have to look at everything in the world if you want to bring in fresh ideas. My favorite tattooers find a way to simplify things to a few lines, yet create such strong images. Being forced to create has made my view of art a little different and now Im always thinking of ideas, and am willing to make something that I just think looks cool.
Q: Name an artist you are wow'd by?
A: Da'Vinci. I answered the rest from a tattooers standpoint, so im going to answer this one a little more as an artist individual of tattooing. He was a genius on all levels and I don't think that history is aware of all of his profound creations. They used his medical drawings into the 1800s your grandparents doctor learned from his medical drawings. thats incredible influence. I mean there's speculation that the shroud of turin is the first photograph! A self portrait of DaVinci himself. If that's true I would be so amped. I pretty much tell myself it is.
Q: When you create, do you typically listen to music, and if so what?
A: At home I keep blowing my stereo receivers trying to mess around with too many speakers so I actually as crazy as it is cant even really listen to music at home. I actually tend to watch mindless TV and get angry at all the commercials I hear. I dont really actually ever watch TV I just hear it, but a lot of what I watch is documentaries on Netflix. Always trying to learn. My friend Murray says you can get a college education on Netflix, and hes right. At Planet NY we listen to a little of everything. Django Rheinhart, Tom Petty, Traveling Wilburys, Explosions in the Sky, Bruce Springsteen, Howlin' Wolf, Promise Ring, O Brother, Isis. Literally everything. Everybody's into different stuff. For the most part its only the best of each genre so I can get down with almost all of it. Working with other people with diverse taste definitely opened my mind up.
A: Sadly, I cant really say Ive read all that much in the last few years. I used to be a huge reader but with so much going on in my life I havent really had the chance. I constantly buy books. But most are for pictures for art reference. I read a book about pirates which bummed me out because it painted the majority of them as rich kids with nothing else to do, and the End of Faith by Sam Harris which was a pretty interesting read with some good points, and some bad ones. I tend to rely on documentaries and Internet articles to learn pertinent information I feel is important (fuck SOPA and PIPA they're just trying to steal your rights don't let them!).
Q: Are you an action, comedy or romance kinda guy, and what film would you then recommend? Of course you could also maybe be into documentaries?
A: Documentaries, they are cheap to make and easy to self release, even more now with Netflix. The result is good information available to you. That's where all the stuff is to make you mad. It gets a little depressing to watch all this stuff but its important to have all the information on tough topics before you can choose a side. And imperative if you ever want to open your mouth in debate, nothing's worse than an argument with an idiot who sticks to what they believe in the face of direct evidence otherwise. They're always the loudest.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a Tattoo Artist?
A: No adult crash. I stayed the same person always. Never had to compromise who I was to get what I wanted. There is great freedom in that.
Q: Most entertaining/interesting/boring story from the shop?
A: Its all pretty boring, we recently lost heat for a few days and it was cold. That sucked. Just kidding I mean its a fun atmosphere. Nothing really surprises us anymore.
Q: Best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
A: Best advice is to never think anything you do is good. Staying humble drives you to get better. Thinking you're anything super fancy makes you stop progressing.
A: Worst advice was to go to college for graphic design
Q: How do you think the Internet has changed art?
A: Same way pop culture has always changed art, by taking a good thing and finding a way to ruin it. No one wants to have to think in this culture. Everything is a soundbyte, a phrase to sell an idea. For music its both good and bad. Its good because if there's a band you hear about you can just go check it out in seconds. Thats great. But on the downside its so easy to do now, its really lost its effectiveness for promoting music because everyone is soooooo sick of requests from bands and posts from bands. Its so inundated that people are burnt out on it and don't even bather checking stuff out which is unfortunate because as a musician you dedicate so much time to doing it. People forget that. Music trends come and go so fast a record someone loves last year they'll (hopefully, in most cases) be embarrassed about ever liking next year. Dubstep is the devil, pop music sells you America. In art it has made room for a lot of talented people to get their true deserved recognition, and made it possible for us tattooers to steal from each other.
All images © Vincent Manco