"Profile" is a column dedicated to exploring the sensibilities of independent creatives in the fashion sphere. Tim runs an appointment based tattoo studio in Los Angeles under the moniker “Bodiesneedrest.” He is known for his precise single needle and fine line work. We caught up with Tim in his studio to talk about how he got started tattooing, what keeps him inspired and his various art, music and fashion interests.
SL: Of all mediums, why tattooing, what got you started?
BODIES: I have been drawing as far back as I can remember. I was lucky to have a few creative types in my family that pushed me towards art and other creative outlets. Tattooing presented itself to me early on. I was 12 or 13 the first time I walked into a tattoo shop, I was immediately kicked out but something between the time I walked through the door and walked back out stuck with me. It would be a few more years before I entered another tattoo shop but I never stopped thinking about that first exposure. Getting started in tattooing was hard for me, a very slow road. There was a lot of begging, failed starts, and lost time. Obviously, eventually things worked out.
SL: Have there been any other artists in or outside your field that have shaped the way you draw or tattoo?
BODIES: That’s something I think about a lot. I’m not sure why I draw the way I do. I don’t think I draw in a very tattoo specific way. I have a lot of references, ideas, inspiration around me that I pull from but nothing in particular that I could name. I’ll also add that tattooing is funny in the sense that a lot of my output is based on client requests. So often, I’m trying to figure out how to approach a concept that I would never think of on my own. If that makes sense.
SL: What influences have shaped your fine line and single needle tattoo styles?
BODIES: I used to do a lot of more American traditional style tattoos which I still love. But when I moved to LA from The East Coast I didn’t get as many requests for what I was doing back home. It was an opportunity to strip away a lot of what I was doing and had learned to build new skills and concepts.
SL: Are there any other tattoo styles you’re willing to experiment with in the future?
BODIES: With clients, I’m open to anything really. I prefer to work in black or black and grey styles but as long as I feel I can make a good tattoo out of a request, I’m open to ideas. Personally, I would like to do some larger scale work but from a more minimal angle.
SL: Your pieces frequently feature a lot of iconography, myths and obscure lithographs. Is this usually what you’re comfortable working with? Or have your clients consistently come to you with these requests in mind?
BODIES: Thats a good question, fashion and tattoos are closely related in my opinion. It’s the wearer, deciding how the world views themselves based on the choices they make about how to present themselves to the world. Tattoos are just a more permanent choice. Designers who I take inspiration from all have a pretty singular vision over their careers. I like that. I like the idea of constant growth through staying the course. An arching evolution of personal design language. Like the idea of callbacks to earlier collections but with new cuts or fabrics. There is a lot of repetition in tattooing, finding a way to evolve within the repetition is important.
SL: What characteristics do you look for when buying clothing?
BODIES: Over the last few years I’ve been putting a lot more effort into paring back what I wear. I want to have reliable pieces that I can wear without putting much thought into it. Since I work with inks, and exposure to blood, mildly harsh chemicals, etc. my day to day clothing needs to be able to hold up through all that, it also needs to be something that I feel comfortable in when I’m not at work. Solid construction, a limited pallet, and timeliness are key.
SL: What musicians, older or newer are you currently listening to?
BODIES: I’ve been listening to Stars of the Lid, Tim Hecker, Robert Turman, and Fennesz in the studio lately. I like music that becomes part of the room and doesn’t interfere with the experience of being tattooed. Music can have a big impact on how people receive a tattoo, I've seen more people pass out, have anxiety attacks, and sit more uncomfortably pain wise when the music is taking up too much of the atmosphere, vs, when something more ambient is being played.
When I’m not in the studio I listen to a lot of other stuff. Lingua Ignota, Liturgy, Swans, and PJ Harvey have been some recent go to’s.
SL: What is the vetting process when you choose to take on a new client? Are there illustrations or requests that you categorically reject?
BODIES: Everyone has the right to get a good tattoo. I try not to be picky about who I work with, as I feel it’s the client and not the tattooer who should be picky. There are so many great tattooers in this city, not to mention the amazing tattooers all over the world. I’m lucky that anyone chooses to work with me at all. I won’t normally turn down a tattoo unless it’s something that I know I cannot do well. Say, vibrant watercolor tattoos or something in that vein. That being said, I consider myself fairly introverted and can fall victim to certain energies. If I feel a personality clash coming on, I will in some cases suggest a client work with another tattooer. There is a transfer of energy that happens in the process of giving and receiving tattoos that should stay in good balance and I try my best to keep it level.
SL: Outside of tattooing are there any other mediums you’d like to explore in the future?
BODIES: I’ve been kicking around some ideas for a long time. I have some projects that I have been working on that I’m excited for but there is no current plan for any kind of release or announcement on that just yet. I don’t limit myself to tattooing, I just do more of it than anything else currently. Stay tuned.