Tat2X: How long have you been involved in the tattoo business?
Andrew: 21 long years! I can still remember saying to my friends, “Can you believe I’ve been doing this for a year?” Time sure flies.
Tat2X: What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?
Andrew: I started tattooing in New York in 1992 after a bunch of friends pressured me to get into it. I actually had little interest at first, but friends can be persuasive! I think I got into it just to shut them all the hell up and stop bugging me already. Freakin’ New Yorkers!
Tat2X: How did you learn the art of tattooing? Did you apprentice?
Andrew: I am 100 percent self-taught. There weren’t many opportunities for apprenticeships in New York City with the whole ban in place. I have an extensive art background and always had pretty good technical common sense, so I taught myself everything. Also I had no interest in being some shop bitch and being abused for a year…as most shops would do back then. I grew up in a true artistic household where the notion of an apprentice is to be taken under the wing of a mentor, building a solid relationship, being guided and having mutual respect for one another-not buy everyone lunch, wash their cars and scrub floors with a toothbrush!
Tat2X: Are there any artists tattoo or otherwise that you admire?
Andrew: I really don’t spend a whole lot of my time at all studying other artists and exploring different worlds or art. But my greatest influences growing up were Caravaggio and my mother.
Tat2X: Has any individual in particular influenced your career?
Andrew: My mother is basically my sole inspiration when it comes to art in general.
Tat2X: What would you say is your favorite part of the job?
Andrew: It’s too hard to pinpoint one favorite part. I love the smile on the client’s face when they first see the finished work in the mirror. I love when the occasional client breaks down in tears because of its sentimental meaning. I love talking with the clients and getting to know them. I love talking about our favorite movies and I also love hearing their darkest secrets. I love watching my own work evolve from start to finish. I love…ok, is that enough? I told you I can’t list just one thing.
Tat2X: How would you describe your style?
Andrew: My own style? Do I really have a style to call my own? I don’t think so. My work is recognizable to some, but I don’t think I have something that says, “Hey! That’s Andy’s Technique and style!” What I’m know for being good at is a different thing – I love all forms of realism: portraits, people, animals, nature, flowers, etc. mostly black & grey too. But when I am doing an ocean scene or something like that, I love going nuts with color. Even a Hello Kitty design can be fun if you have a field day with the colors.
Tat2X: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists tattoo or otherwise?
Andrew: Yeah, find something else to do!!! (kidding partially) You better be good – REAL GOOD – because this industry is completely over saturated with too many artists (most of whom are nothing special or should find another profession) and too many shops. its hell out there b/c even though there are shitty artists, good/average artists and great artists, most prospective clients don’t know the difference, don’t know to search around and do research or are just looking for el cheapo anyway. It’s so frustrating!!!!
About Tattoo Artist Andrew Sussman:
Andrew Sussman has been tattooing for over 21 years and you can see more of his amazing work at his Website Imagine Artistry, his Escondido, California studio Dermal Grafix or you can like Andrew’s Facebook Page.