I got my first tattoos in my teens in the late 70’s, went to art school and started to get heavily tattooed in the 80’s, and was tattooing by the end of that decade. On the way I played in bands and worked for a while as a medical illustrator, which I loved, but tattooing was what I really wanted to do. As was traditional, and really the only way at the time, I started from home - a large squat in Central London peopled with creative types, exciting times! I was working, but there wasn’t much going on in the U.K. at that time, so I went to L.A. where things WERE happening, got tattooed by a couple of my heroes, and ended up staying and tattooing in Hollywood for a couple of years.
In 1993 I came back and started Into You, with then business partner, piercer Teena Marie. We were pretty much the first real custom tattoo shop in London, it’s hard now to truly appreciate how different things were back then. There was clearly a demand and soon Curly joined us, and it grew from there. A big thanks to all the amazing artists that I’ve been lucky enough to work with, it’s been quite a ride!
In the early years I made a lot of tribal tattoos, because it was so different to anything I had seen, but I came to love traditional Japanese work and western “old school” just as much. Although I enjoy revisiting certain themes, compared to some artists these days my style is quite broad. I like to work with the person I’m working on, start with what ideas they have, and put my own spin on it, often using some elements from the tattoo traditions that I love. I passionately believe that tattooing is a collaboration between artist and client, and try and have my work reflect that.
Outside of tattooing I have always produced work in other media. At art school I made performance and installation work and I managed to combine that with the tattoo/body art world by being lucky enough to perform regularly with the amazing Ron Athey. I produced plenty of drawings and flash in my earlier years, culminating in the box set - 23 Sleeves, published in 2001. I started printmaking around 2000, a medium that grabbed me almost as much as tattooing and I was very lucky to find a good print studio where I had access to equipment and learned my basic skills. After experimenting with various print styles including etching, monoprint and others I settled mainly on screenprints for several years, making work often influenced by the Japanese woodblock print that Japanese tattooing is based on. Needing a change, and loving the directness of the medium, I switched to the real thing, and made my woodcut portrait series - 32 portraits of my friends and colleagues in the tattoo world, which resulted in the book being published by Kintaro press in 2012. Currently I’m experimenting with printmaking, helping run both the London and Brighton shops, and enjoying a renewed interest and passion for tattooing, really always my no.1! ALEX BINNIE WEBSITE