I've always used computers, I was one of the first kids on the block to have one. I got my first one in 1984. It looked like the one in the picture. I have embraced technology in just about every aspect of my life. That being said, I've been been very hesitant to create art on computers. Sure, I use photoshop to manipulate my sketches that I've first created on paper, but the idea of drawing on a tablet just didn't feel right.
Well I finally broke down and got an iPad pro and so far, so good. It's sped up my tattoo process and definitley helped with consultations.
Here's a "painting" I've been working on lately. I'll hopefully post more about my exploration into digital art in the future.
A nice Yelp review I got recently. Thanks Aldora!
"I just got my first tattoo done here after somebody walked into my restaurant and I liked his artwork. This was my first tattoo and I take it very seriously. I wanted something unique, delicate and feminine. But I wasn't sure how to get what I was envisioning in my head. But somehow Ben Licata drew exactly what I wanted. After looking him up it seems he focuses on skulls, and I think what I wanted (three birds lol) was the opposite of that and he did a PERFECT job. This guy is talented and knows what he is doing. He was extremely nice, everything is really clean and he made me feel extremely comfortable. My first tattoo experience was perfect, I did my research, knew what I wanted and spent three years thinking about it lol. If I get another tattoo, it would be at this place."
Aldora L. Amherst, MA
Here's a collection of progress photos of a cover up tattoo I've been poking away at. Eric came to me during the very early days of my apprenticeship and asked me if I would be willing to take on a cover up. I've always been someone who jumps in over my head then figures out how to swim, so , I said yes. Also, seeing the original tattoo, I figured I couldn't make it look worse. This is only my 4th or 5th tattoo I've ever attempted.
During the first session I started to lose my stencil and began to sweat a bit. The linework mixed with old tattoo also had me wondering what the hell I had got myself into. I soldiered on adding heavier linework and solid blacks, followed by some greywash shading. My mentor Joe King suggested using some opaque greys at this point and that really helped disguise the old tattoo. The most recent session was just straight black and some limited white to push the contrast a bit. The next session will be to add some smoke elements to the background to camouflage the remaining lines of the old tattoo. This had been a challenging journey but I've learned a ton along the way. Thanks Eric.
This past weekend I put myself in one of the most stress filled scenarios I've ever been in. Let me set the scene.
It was Saturday afternoon during this year's Paradise Tattoo Gathering at Jiminey Peak in the beautiful Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. I had just left Laura Jade's first ever seminar that I was webcasting, and I had to quickly gather all of my tattoo equipment and get to the main stage. I began to set up and methodically went through my routine. "Massage table, check. Drape cloth, check. machine, power supply, gloves, cords, ink, check. Damn, what time is it? Shit, almost 1:30, this is taking forever."
I was at a very high level of stress at this moment because I was about to tattoo for the first time at a convention, on stage, in front of a packed room, with my tattoo being projected on the big screen....with Guy fucking Aitchison sitting across the table from me. *gulp. The premise was for Guy to sort of coach me through a tattoo, pointing out methods and techniques that would be helpful to an apprentice tattooer. Sounds great on paper.
I apply the stencil before Guy gets there and I'm ready to go. My victim...er..I mean client, was feloow Off the Map tattooer Mark Tousignant. He was kind enough to sacrafice himself so I could learn. I get mark up on the table and I sit down. Then, directly across from me, Guy sits down, with a god damned microphone. Yep, all his tips, comments, and crticisms would be broadcast across the resort. To every room, for everyone at the convention to hear. The camera get set into position and I hear "Make sure to get this streaming on Facebook!" Great, now thousands of people can watch me tank this. I was sweating and felt like I might be sick. My stomach was a giant knot.
After a bit of a brief history from me and some comments from Guy, it's time to start. I can't pull a line. My hands are shaking so badly that I can't even pull a simple freakin line. " What the Hell did I get my self into?" I thought to myself. "I'm never going to get through this." It was at this moment Guy leans in and tells me to forget about the lines, and cocentrate on some shading and dotwork for bit until I calm down a bit. So I did, and eventually I calmed down, got my shit together and finished the tattoo. It's not half bad either, see for yourself.
I was a very stressfull thing to do, but I was happy to share my vulnerability with the tattoo community. I got a lot out of the experience. I received a great deal of positive feedback, and I am fairly confident I could tattoo under any circumstance put before me, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thanks for reading. More stories from Paradise soon.
I took a trip yesterday to New York City with Off the Map guest artist Joe Phillips, Resident artist Oleg Turyanskiy and his wife Fiola. Joe joined us fom his shop Vere Street Tattoos in Barry, South Wales. Oleg and Fiola have just moved to our Northeast location from Moscow, Russia.
We took a day and drove down to the city to visit the American Museum of Natural History for some inspiration. We spent hours at the museum and then roamed freely around the city taking the sites. It was a great chance to exercise our bodies and minds as well. I believe trips like this are highly valuable, because it's get you out of your day to day routine and exposes you to new ideas. Inspiration can come from somethingh as small as detailed railing on an old church to an enormous mastodon skeleton. Spending time with other artists outside of the studio gas it's merits as well. It's a chance to find out more about the people you work with everyday and build a stronger relationship built on shared experience. A conversation over a beer in a dive bar about the wonders you saw at a museum are mentally envigorating. I'm back to work feeling tired but with a renewed excitement about art. thanks for reading the ramble, I'm on 3 hours sleep. - Ben
So my friend Eric has been kind enough to let me tattoo him as a part of my apprenticeship.He's got a skull on his arm and a very large cover up in process on his thigh. He's been rad about letting me figure things out and understanding that I might be slow and far from perfect. But enough about him, his band Black Pyramid is rad and they are playing some shows soon. they all happen while I'll be in Italy for The Venetian Tattoo Gathering so I can't go, but YOU should. Go support the guy who's been supporting me and get your brain pummelled by some super awesome stoner doom.
I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been making my ongoing apprenticeship a possibilty. Without the people who have been willing to come in and let me tattoo them I would never be able to learn as much as I have so far. Thank you all for your trust and confidence in me. Thank you to Joe King for taking me as an apprentice, without your guidance and knowledge and patience this journey I have started would be much harder and may not have happened at all. I'd also like to thank all of the artists at Off the Map for letting me continue to peek over your shoulders and ask questions. Major gratitude to Bob Tyrrell, Ralph Nonnweiler, and Guy Aitchison, for pushing me to pursue tattooing and checking up on me to make sure I'm not fucking up too badly. Your constant confidence and support is of an immeasurable value and thank you is just not a big enough word. Thank you to Durb Morrison, Ray Webb and all the family at Neotat for providing me with the tools I needed to get going. The list of artists that have encouraged me, offered advice and took time for my questions is so long it would never fit here, but I hope you all know who you are and how much I appreciate you. Even the smallest of kind words mean so much to me and help keep me driven. With the awesome support team I have behind me I have no option but to succeed, I hope I do you all proud.
Ok!, Now who wants a tattoo?!!!
So after watching master tattooers up close for years while producing webinars and interviewing them for Off the Map LIVE!, Ben Licata is starting to tattoo. He loves the skulls. Email him if you want a skull tattoo or painting! Commissioned paintings run from $500-$1,500.