John Lloyd Interview
By Tattoo Masters Magazine UK
How long have you been tattooing?
I did my first tattoo at Brandon Bond's private Anti Art Elite Studio. It was on tattoo artist Tim Orth, back in April 2006. I was extremely nervous. I did a few paying tattoos traveling out of state doing "guest spots". But did not feel I was at the All or Nothing Studio level. I feel I started tattooing when I was hired three years ago.
How long have you been with ALL OR NOTHING?
Gosh, has it been that long? I started my apprenticeship with All or Nothing in March of 2005. So my loyalty has been five and a half years so far and running. Some days it seems like yesterday, other times I have trouble remembering anything else.
Where DID you live before coming to Atlanta?
I hail from the Buckeye state. Midwest boy all the way. I grew up just outside of Dayton, Ohio. My folks still live there and I visit the few chances I get every year. People in Atlanta don't understand snow.
How did you come to ALL OR NOTHING, tell us the story!?!
I wanted to do something different with my life. The last eight years I had been teaching art in public schools. I wanted to push my art skills to the highest level. I was fascinated with tattooing, and wanted to learn from the best. Every magazine I picked up had images and articles from this Mecca of tattooing, in Atlanta, called All or Nothing; lead by this genius, wild man, Brandon Bond. When I attended a seminar of his, I was sold. I quit teaching, cashed in my savings, and called the studio every day until someone would consider me for an apprenticeship. It took about a month. The day I came in with my artwork and met everyone, I ended up in the back sweeping up at closing time. The rest as they say...is history.
What brought you to move to Atlanta to work at ALL OR NOTHING?
Surprisingly, I moved to Atlanta in 1999, with my now ex-wife. I was still a teacher. She had gotten a promotion, and we moved south. When I did research to find out where to learn about tattooing, I lucked out to find All or Nothing just 45 minutes away. I would have driven across the country and it was in my backyard. It's like a curve ball. You don't think it will get there, until it is in the strike zone.
What is your favorite type of tattooing to do?
Some of my favorite tattoos were the ones where the client had a good sense of humor and wanted something original. Or a technical piece that was right on the edge of what I was capable of doing. I tend to draw out everything I can before a client shows up for their appointment, but a few just need to be drawn right onto the skin with sharpie. The more comfortable I get with drawing on the skin, the more I enjoy doing it.
What machines do you use? How many do you set up for a substantial session?
I have a lot of machines, but only use maybe four on a regular basis. My two daily drivers are an Axis Iron's liner, and Pulse shader. You just can't go wrong with the Executive, and a Solution pair, from Pulse. They are reliable, right out of the box. I have several Axis Iron's machines including #1, but they need the occasional tinkering. I have a brass Paco Rollins that puts in black and gray smoothly for me. I try, even with big pieces to just set up two machines. Now that I am trying to vary my line weight, I will set up a second liner. Still, that is only three machines.
What type of needles & groupings do you prefer? How did you come to
start using them?
I favor a really tight seven round to line with. For me it is quite versatile. I started with threes. Never use them now, unless absolutely necessary. My second liner, if needed, would be a regular eight round. It took me forever to give up using a seven mag for everything. I now have one leg into my big boy pants, using eleven mags. Eventually, I will put the other leg in, and step up to thirteens. I know they are popular where I work. Just look at Dave Tedder's tattoos. Between you and me I still have a crush on seven mags.
Is Brandon really a psychopath to work for?
Whether tattooing, film making, marketing, or philanthropy; there is no doubt that Brandon is passionate about everything that he does. I am sure that he stands in front of a urinal, thinking about how he can relieve himself more efficiently, and somehow improve the lives of others, while getting paid to do it. He has built a tattoo empire because of his "lead, follow, or get out of my way" attitude. If someone calls him a psychopath it is because they fall into the "get out of my way" category.
What has changed about your tattooing since you first walked in the
front door of ALL OR NOTHING?
What hasn't changed. I had no idea the depth of understanding these guys have about tattooing. The days of "you pick it I'll stick it" are numbered. Today is all about pushing the envelope of what a tattoo can be. Custom, one off pieces that have dynamic compositions and are technically challenging are becoming the norm. My eyes have been opened to the possibilities, and there seems to be no limit. It is truly an exciting time to be tattooing.
Everyone that comes arrives at different times, so the list of artists
is always in flux. Who have YOU worked with, gotten tattooed by, met
or gotten to watch work since coming to ALL OR NOTHING? And how did
any of that affect you and your art.
I have been with the studio for over five years now. Man, the people that have walked through these doors are like a who's who of the tattooing community. Some of the artists that I have been tattooed by here, include; Brandon Bond, Dave Tedder, Sean Herman, Tim Orth, Brian Reynolds, Tony Mancia, Chris Vennecamp, Vince Villalvazo, Short, Bird, and J. Ranno. But I have had the chance to work with and watch; Nate Beavers, Tim "Victim" Pangburn, Tim McGrath, Bob Tyrell, Mike Demassi, Mike Divrise, Josh Woods, Lenny Renkin, Shauncey Fury, Queckie Fury, Danny Pepto, Ted Wallen, Jason Atkins, Chris Nelson, Jase Masula, Rob Lowe, Taylor Cort.
What other type of art do you produce? Paintings, video, flash, graphics etc?
I still paint. That was an emphasis on my art degree. Mostly acrylic, but the occasional watercolor. I did a sheet of flash a few years back, and should do another one soon. If I start a painting, it needs to be completely done in three days, or I will never finish it. It is one of those things, either now or never. Many of the young whipper snappers I work with will manipulate multiple images digitally and print it out. Not me. I do the bare minimum with that electronic voodoo. New things scare me, and I would rather use a light table over a monitor any day of the week. And twice on Sunday.
Are you tired of people talking to you about dogs?
I like dogs. And dog people are a different breed. Ha, get it? Someone that talks to me about the cool dog they rescued from a shelter is different than an owner that wants to show you their dog's Christmas photo with Santa wearing their handmade sweater. I am proud of the small part I played in Victory to the Underdog documentary, as well as anything I have done for the Atlanta Pitbull Rescue. I do get tired of people that just TALK about dogs. I will never tire of people that DO something for dogs.
How has your LIFE been changed since coming?
It feels like tattooing is all I do. Most days I eat, sleep, and breathe it. If you do that long enough, the feeling is you need it for nourishment, to rest, and it gives you breath. I am seeking balance in my life, but for now, it is all about work.
Was there ever a time when you realized you had figured this out or
had an "art epiphany" about your own growth as a tattooer?
Ever since I picked up a tattoo machine for the first time I have been having those moments. I keep thinking, ah, now I get it. Three months later I think, ah NOW I get it. Although my work is better today than it has ever been, the time will come when I realize that I still had not understood it yet.
What kind of inks do you use?
Most of the pigments I use are either Starbrite or Intenze. I do cheat on these brands with certain other colors and use Waverly, Dermaglo, and Classic for example. As far as black goes, my current favorite is Dynamic. Other tattooists recommend many alternatives, but it is the darkest black I have used.
What is it like to work with so many artists from all over every day?
It's great. Come on?! Who wouldn't like it? Feels like a dream team or something. No attitudes. Each week I steal something amazing from these guys. I will walk one of my clients into another artist's booth and ask their opinion about a piece. Often their suggestion is something I would not have thought of myself. My bag of tricks improves, and the client gets a more original tattoo.
Tell me about your kids (if you've got any?)
No kids. I am not a breeder. Ha ha. I think that teaching was a good form of birth control. Kids are great. Just for other people. They can call me when they are eighteen, and I will tattoo them. Ha ha.
What do you love about tattooing the most?
Tattooing is fiercely independent. It is capitalism at its best. Each day I wake up, I can spend it in the manner of my choosing. Whether I do a thousand dollars worth of tattooing in one day or choose to do cool free stuff all day. I am my own boss. The harder I push myself, the further I can go. No one can tell me I cannot achieve that which I am willing to work for.