Acrylic paintings aren’t exactly the first things one would expect to see on the walls of a tattoo shop, but artists at Sacred Heart Studios are proving that tattoos are just another form of expressing their artistic talent.
“We have a Thursdays on First stand to show people the other side. Tattoo shops have this reputation of being kind of dingy, but we have a lot of other art that we make here as well. We have space in the basement to mess around and experiment,” said Sacred Heart artist Nick Sinclair, of Zumbrota.
Sinclair is the relative new kid on the block at Sacred Heart, where he started as an apprentice last September. For him, tattooing is a new endeavor, but art has been in his life for as long as he can remember.
While Sinclair started with pen and ink illustrations as part of hot rod culture, he has since expanded into graphic design, painting and, most recently, tattoos.
With thousands of social media followers, a Thursdays on First stand, and shows coming up all over the region, Sinclair is putting his work out there and proving his versatility. His work can be viewed at Cafe Steam, at Thursdays on First with other artists from Sacred Heart Studios, at his website www.artbysinclair.com and at shows at the Austin Artworks Center, the Northfield Arts Guild and Aug. 1 at Cafe Steam.
How do you make adjustments to work with so many different mediums?
I don’t really think about it, but I’m sure there’s a mental preparation from going to the fine lines with the illustrations to something more loose. That’s hard with the paintings. I’m so used to keeping things really tight that I do need to remind myself to let more loose.
Of course, certain parts of the paintings do have to be tight to define different things, but overall that is different than the pencil and ink drawings. It’s a different mental game, I think.
You produce a really high volume of work. What does your creative process look like?
Well the idea starts in my head, and then I just pencil it.
Really? That’s it?
I don’t know! I do reference, so I will look up a squid if I’m drawing tentacles. Not to trace them, but just to look at and get proportions. Then, I just draw it.
That doesn’t mean I don’t erase a lot, because I do. I know a lot of guys will do four renderings and do different versions. When I start on a piece of paper, that’s my beginning and final piece.
How has your tattoo apprenticeship process been going?
It’s totally challenging and super fun, and it’s actually art people will pay for. I like the culture. Tattoos are cool.
I started the apprenticeship process in September, and it was months of observing and learning how to do the cleanup and tear down a station. Really, it was learning the basics and getting all that down. Keeping your station clean is important. It was also learning to transfer my art skills to a new tool. Now, I’m working on getting my hours logged so I can get my official license signed off.
What’s your favorite tattoo you have?
Well, I have to say it’s probably this one on my arm. It’s the state of Minnesota with “uffda” written on it. I have a hotdish on my back by the same guy. I think it’s my favorite just because of the Midwest thing.
Some of your art has religious subject matter. How does your faith fit into your work?
Well, people don’t expect that I’m Christian, so that’s kind of funny sometimes. It comes up in conversation, and it’s really easy to talk about. Bible verses are actually really common tattoos and so are crosses. When someone comes in to get that, it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s talk.’
It’s been a weird ministry, I will say, if you look at it that way. It’s weird because you have someone in a chair for three or four hours, and you’ve got to talk about something or else it gets boring.
How do you build an online presence for your work with social media?
I don’t know how hashtags work. I seriously don’t know. But I will say ever since I started an Instagram account, it has been elevated, and that’s been awesome. I used to take a picture on my phone and upload it to my computer. Now, I use If This Then That so everything automatically updates. It just helps keep it going and active.
Most of the people just like stuff, but seeing who is pretty cool. Sometimes somebody likes something, and I really admire that person’s work, so it’s cool to see that they like what I’m doing.