Le tatoueur Charlie Shazer accueillera dans son salon Kids Love Ink les acquéreurs des œuvres de l’exposition Burning Ink afin qu’il les leur encre définitivement dans la peau. Une interview, en anglais dans le texte, avec le maître des lieux.

Charlie Shazer is a tattoo artist and tattoo shop owner. He will be the host of the next Burning Ink exhibition in London, in his tattoo shop Kids Love Ink, from March 13th to March 31st.

Charlie Shazer on duty

What’s your background?

I have drawn my whole life… I think it’s the only thing I was ever any good at. I quickly dropped out of college, getting bored and being stuck into the graffiti world. I probably dedicated more years than I should to it, doing everything involved, having fun times with my crew. Eventually that phase ended at some point. I screwed about for a while, managed to scrape some freelance illustration and painting commissions now and then. I got back to the long forgotten idea of tattooing, got my first one 25 years ago. It was a small spray can, scratched on my shoulder blade in a nasty tattoo shop in the old part of Oslo, Norway.Many years later I hooked up with Per Kristian (Horisize) who I started getting proper work from.Also my good friend Jason Saga (r.i.p) had started tattooing, he kicked my slow ass into gear, and I started to learn how to tattoo as well at this point. Me and Jay used to ink friends in his bedroom for a couple of years until we got work in proper studios. We both worked at Fine Line Tattoo in Islington. It’s long gone now, it was an old school street shop… It gave us a good grass- roots upbringing, balanced that out with working at Per Kristian’s custom studio in Oslo as often as I could. Both places meant a lot to me… I eventually started inking in Soho, here in London, in a small basement at an existing piercing studio there. I worked hard, 5 years of it…

My then apprentice started alongside me there also, we got a little stir crazy being downstairs all day. Marcus opened his own studio Kids Love Ink Deptford and I went to ink at Tattoo Seen in the Bronx, NYC. Awesome times.Then back to london to get involved in getting my own place… Few ups and downs, situations changing, but all roads led to where I am now. 6 months ago, I opened my first studio in East London, just off Brick Lane.All happened pretty quickly really, got a good crew with myself, Josh Sutterby inking full time now, and my apprentice Raph Cemo. Both with graf backgrounds too, also good artists… Has to be. No half assed shit.


What’s your occupation?

My occupation has now changed from artist / tattooist, to shop owner and boss! It’s not something I would have really consid- ered, but it comes with the territory. I gotta do it right, it’s not just me to look after now.


Please describe a typical day at the tattoo shop.

It’s still early days at the studio, so its fairly relaxed starts to each day, keep the place ordered. It’s a small but flexible work space, so no clutter or confusion.There are always some drawing to be doing, and of course dealing with whatever comes our way…

Helping the guys get into the groove of daily operations… Making sure I’m not slacking on anything seems to be a big part of each day. then of course, inking good people, which is why we do this. I love it. Most evenings Raph is inking friends, so I help him with that, which in turn makes me think about my tattooing. All in all long days but great ones.Then home to my missy, and relax…


Where do your influences come from?

I’m influenced by an increasingly broadening range of artists/ink- ers/visuals. I mostly need some blood, sweat and tears involved… Stuff that makes you think ‘’fuuuck!!”. I have become friends with some people who inspired/impressed me, which in itself is majorly inspirational.


What jobs and work did you do before tattoo?

I always tried (lazily) to earn some money from drawing/paint- ing… In between I worked badly in retail for a while. I had many good times having a part time job at Mr Bongo Records in Soho. I did not have a record collection, not one piece of vinyl. I learnt a lot though, it was great… Big ups BONGO crew!


What are your favorite aspects about London?

I have a big love / hate relationship with London… I have always had. It’s where I’m from, but I always had the hardest time work- wise, I guess because I was in the move so much. I seem to have cracked it now, with the new studio and all. So now is the time to push hard. London is on the up, it seems to be in a good place, where so much creativity / shit is happening.The London tattoo scene is on the up too, and we want to be a part of that. Holding our own, doing what we do best for everybody.These are excit- ing times.The right time it seems.We had some ups and downs already in the last 6 months, but there will be way more of that to come. It makes us a stronger unit. I’m glad to be part of a city that is a very cosmopolitan mix of all kinds of folks.Thank fuck for that.


Describe your city in 3 words and tell us why…

DEAL WITH IT. I use this term a lot. I tattooed it on myself few years back. I use it to describe London because, as I said, it has always given me the hardest time workwise, and now I have a shop and crew, in that city. So I will have to ‘deal with it’, no-one else will.Aint gonna not make this work.

Portrait by Victor Vautier
Kids Love Ink, 14 Cheshire St, E2 London