The Inspirations: Max Rathbone - Tattoo Artist

 Max's work

Back with a bang, we interviewed Pixie's (one half on Wonderland) fiancée and very talented tattoo artist Max! So if you fancy yourself as a budding tattooist this is the post for you!


Tell us about what you do.
I tattoo at Off Key Tattoo Studio in Birmingham UK  

What does an average day at work look like for you?
All my designs are drawn on the day of appointment, so the first hour or two is all preparation. I'll do anywhere from one to three tattoos in a day usually. I don't have any breaks other than to smoke so everyday is pretty hectic.

Do you primarily work alone or with other people?

I work with a guy called Robert Ashby. His work is the opposite of mine but I think we compliment each other well. His wife is also there learning to tattoo and she does a few days a week. 

Is this what you wanted to do as a child? Did you end up in this job by “accident” or was it a planned career choice?
I wanted to do it as far back as I can remember, my earliest memory is my Dad coming home with a new tattoo and I loved them ever since.

 How long ago did you start on this path?

Not long after I dropped out of art college, think I was probably about 19.

 Max's work from Instagram

How long were you doing it before you made it into your career or primary form of income?

The first two years were unpaid. I was working anywhere up to 80 hours a week so didn't have time to give myself any other form of income. Luckily my Dad was very supportive and allowed me to live at home without rent, so I only had to find money for cigarettes. After two years I started making little bits of money

 What kind of education do you have?

I did okay during school and went to art college for about three years. So not much really.

 Do you think official qualifications are important for someone entering your industry?

100%. Very few people manage to become tattooists so it's important to have a back up plan.

If you went to school, did you enjoy studying? Could you see where it might lead you at the time? What advice would you give to someone else who might be studying to get into your industry?

I hated school and college was just messing around. At that age I didn't really look past next week let alone what I would be doing ten years later. I did fine art, but I would recommend anyone to chose illustration.

 Max's work on our Pixie

What do you think is the best thing about what you do?

I love so much about my job. It really is amazing the amount of people who give me free reign with their bodies. It's just an awesome feeling creating something new everyday and knowing that customer will keep it for the rest of their lives. Tattoos are one of the few things someone will buy that they will still own in five years, unlike phones, clothes, cars and any other possessions.

What’s the worst thing?

I can never switch off. Mentally, I'm constantly involved in tattooing.

Would you call yourself a workaholic, & if so, are you alright with that? Do you think that’s normal for your industry?

Honestly I'm fine with it. No matter what job I was doing I'd be the same, so it might as well be for a job I love.
 Taken from Max's instagram

What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?

Get tattooed. By as many different reputable artists as possible

...How about number two?

Draw as much as possible. So many people say they don't have time to draw, that's bullshit. I used to sleep five hours a night so I would have time to draw

What do you wish you had known when you first started out?

So many things. I'd love to go back in time five years and just talk at myself for hours.

Are there any major misconceptions about your job or industry?

People seem to think it's a lot more glamorous than it is in reality, probably because of what they see on TV.
 More of Max's work

Do you ever have any ethical dilemmas with the work you do?

Nope. I don't force anyone to get tattooed by me (except for close friends.)

What is the best thing that’s happened to you as a consequence of the work you do?

I met the love of my life Pixie.

 Pixie and Max 

What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?
I want to be the best. I'm a long way off, and there is a very good chance I'll never get there. But I'm going to do everything I can to get there.

Who do you look up to within your industry & why?

I could name hundreds. Eckel, Sneaky Mitch, Tiny Miss Becca, Greggletron, Justin Hartman, Wendy Pham, Lus Lips, Jeff Gogue, Thomas Hooper, Emily Rose Murray. Each one has had a massive influence on me, if you google them you will see why

Rate how happy you are with what you do out of 100 (100 being the best, 0 being devastatingly awful) on an average day.

Anywhere from 60-80. 
Is there much career progression available to you? What would you like to do next?
I really want to travel. I want to work at all the best shops in the UK, I'd love to work in the States, Australia and around Europe. I want to work at London Tattoo Convention, be on the cover of magazines and tattoo all the celebrities I grew up idolising. If I could tattoo CM Punk I'd be over the moon. I don't know how much of that I can accomplish, but I'm going to try.

Do you think you’ll continue doing this for the rest of your life?

For as long as my health will let me. Even then I will probably still try.

Thanks so much to Max for taking the time out to answer these questions for us! For more of his work and for booking information check out his instagram here!

1 comment:

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