"Be weird, think outside the box, don’t listen to other people"
Scrolling Instagram on a typically wet, UK spring day, Mike Boyd's bold and colourful tattooing style instantly grabbed our attention, kicking the grey and drizzle to touch.
Originally from the UK, he moved to New York in 2023 to carry on his tattooing adventure. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Mike to see how he's settling into life stateside and find out what customers can expect when they engage him as their artist.
First up, how are you finding tattooing in New York? Any notable differences in the industry on that side of the pond?
I’ve been working out here since 2018 and wanted to move here in 2020 but the world had other ideas. So, finally here we are. Tattooing here is a much bigger industry and is steeped in history. When I started working in NYC I was taken aback at how stoked people were to get something different tattooed.
I was working out of Invisible at the time and people on the east coast had not really seen my style of tattooing before so I think people found it exciting and new. The west coast has more experimental work, where as I think New York has a very traditional tattoo base.
What’s the studio like where you’re based?
I work out of my friend Henbo and Kiku's studio, Good Luck NYC. It is a beautiful studio with a huge amount of natural light and a roof terrace. I’d spent the last 10 years tattooing out of a basement in Soho and small studio in Angel so to have this much space and natural light is a game changer. Not to mention the level of artistry that is in the shop.
Also the variety of tattoos that come out of Good Luck is amazing. I think it’s important to surround yourself with a vast array of artists, because you can always pick up something from somewhere you might not look normally.
We see you’re on a bit of a US tour this year. What’s your plans?
I want to settle into New York and build my client base first but I have a nice little circuit that I’ve developed over the years here in the US. I try and hit different spots at least once or twice a year to see friends and hang out.
Portland is always a good spot for me, I have a good group of people up there. San Diego is always a beautiful space, everyone there is so welcoming and I love the beach. Denver and Austin are on the list too as my customers there were incredible.
"Portland is always a good spot for me" - Mike Boyd
What can customers expect when they engage you as their artist?
A big smile and youthful enthusiasm…ha. Truthfully though, I am stoked when anyone reaches out and wants to begin a project with me. Good tattoos aren’t cheap, so it is an honour that someone picks me to begin their transformation. I offer a fully custom service (unless they’re after a "wanna do" or a flash design).
All I need from the client is a rough idea, a clear well lit photo of the area and their trust and I can do the rest. I will be honest with the client about their idea too, somethings simply do not work as tattoos. So there may need to be some directing in the right direction.
The most important thing is that both people are happy when it comes to tattoo time. I try and make the whole experience as easy as possible. Getting tattooed isn’t easy, so if I can take a little edge off for people so they can relax then that’s a good result in my books.
Your artwork instantly hooked us. Tell us a bit about your style.
It developed through pure experimentation. I always had a fondness for the European artists of the early 20th century and thought to push that in my tattooing. Experimenting is very important to me and by that very nature you never stand still. Which, in my opinion is the most important part of being an artist of any discipline.
You have to constantly evolve, you can’t stand still when you’re creating. As long as you can honestly say that you’re pushing the boundaries and not taking the easy route then you’re heading in the right direction.
How do you continue to grow and develop as an artist?
Having new experiences and being involved with different artists of different disciplines is important to me. As I said earlier you never know what you can pick up from other artists.
With me settling into NYC my bookings are the quietest they’ve been in 9 years. So I’m really enjoying the time to paint again and develop new ideas. I have a small draft book where I experiment with ideas in front of the telly in the evenings then I develop them on the iPad.
"Not everything you draw is going to be a masterpiece"
I think young artists need to understand that not everything you draw is going to be a masterpiece, coming to terms with that helped me a lot. Honestly the amount of failed designs I have per each success is staggering but that’s the only way to get there.
Being disciplined with yourself and making sure you sit down and actually create is important, just keep churning and something will stick. Treating it like a 9-5 job helped me enormously.
Anything else you’d like to say? Where can people to see more of your work or book a tattoo?
Photo by Ben Gibson.
Thanks so much having me be a part of Stories & Ink, really appreciate you guys reaching out. Uummm…what else can I say? Be weird, think outside the box, don’t listen to other people, be the real you and enjoy the ride!
You can find me on Instagram @mikeboydtattoos and TikTok as well under the same name. You can check out my website mikeboydtattoos.com to see my work and travel dates and info on how to book. Also you can just shoot me an email email@example.com to start up a dialogue.
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