Philip Yarnell is the 24 year old tattooer working from the seaside town Southend in Essex at Skynard. His impressive work with its strong and consistent use of imagery, muted colour pallet and his strong following is all the more special considering the fact that he has only been tattooing for two years. There is a depth and quality to his work which is far beyond his length of practice and can be seen clearly in how much interest his work amasses. Here at Sang Bleu we’ve tried to get to know Philip at little bit better by finding out more about him.
How long have you been tattooing for and how did you get into it? Your are still pretty young considering how developed your work is.
I’ve been tattooing for about 2 years now but I have been at the shop I work at for almost 3 years. I got into tattooing whilst I was still at University, I was getting tattooed at Skynyard which is now where I work. Luckily Albert Thomas the owner saw potential in my drawings (which at the time I was taking in to get tattooed). He then waited for me to finish university, and thats when I started. I think my work is still developing a lot although I’m still unsure of the direction its taking.
Where did you study fine art? Did your tutors or other students have a problems with you wanting to go into tattooing?
I studied fine art at Hertfordshire University. They didn’t have a problem with it at all, it only really came to be a possibility when I was in the last year. It also never really effected my work there as I was working on various personal art projects that have nothing to do with tattooing.
How is it tattooing in Southend, would you ever consider leaving? Or do you feel that being in Essex is an important part of your work?
Tattooing is dominated by lackluster shops in Southend. There are a few good ones though, and I’m proud to say that I am part of one of them. I’m actually going to be splitting my time between Southend and London soon. But going somewhere else in the future who knows. I don’t feel being in Essex influences my work in any way though.
Who have you been tattooed by?
I’ve been tattooed by alot of different people. Some of them are Guy Le Tattooer, Liam Sparkes, Dane Mancini Soos, Simon Erl, Shen Schubert and of course the great people I work with Albert Thomas, Charlie Coppolo and Thomas Pollard.
Who do you respect in the tattoo world?
The person I most respect would be Guy (le Tattooer). His work is constantly inspiring.
Besides from tattooers work, who else or what inspires your work?
I get inspired from alot of things. Old engravings and paintings etc, particularly from the Renaissance era have a great impact. But anything from modern art to architecture inspires me. Even movies find there way in there.
Could you give an example of one image, one film, one song, one tattoo and one building that inspire you?
Giving one example is very difficult, but if I had to choose one artist that has most effected my work over my life it would be Egon Schiele. His work literally changed the way I drew and made me rethink how I did things.
If I had to choose a movie, it would be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Terry Gilliam captured the book perfectly. Also the artwork of Ralph Steadman, which is more to do with the book has definitely inspired me. A song is a hard one, but it would most likely be ‘Heroin‘ by the Velvet Underground. I’ve listened to that song more then most whilst drawing. I can’t think of one particular tattoo, but when I first came across Guy’s work, it certainly had an effect on me. It is always very inspiring. Architecture is tricky also to pin one particular building down. But anything with a lot of concrete and wood constructed into horribly sharp angles always stop me in my tracks.
How often do you draw or paint, do you feel that drawing is imperative to the role of a tattooer?
I think drawing and/or painting is absolutely imperative for tattooer. I don’t do nearly enough of either just for myself, but it is very important. Its a great way to not worry about what people want but to experiment and develop your own work.
Have you been interested in creating your own particular aesthetic within tattooing?
I don’t consciously try and create my own aesthetic, I just try and do things the most natural way to me. I think my work has a fairly distinct style but it is still developing, so who knows what it might look like in a month or a years time.
How do you feel about the current fashionability of tattooing in our contemporary culture?
I find it a shame, it just encourages the wrong type of people, but I can’t complain because I’m very new to the tattoo scene myself, so If anything I’m a complete part of that and have most likely benefited from it and its rise in popularity thanks to these tv shows and whatever. Its just a phase for these people, so when they look at their crappy tattoo they got in a few years its going to create a negative vibe towards the industry.
Where would you like to see your work develop in the future?
I just just hope that I can continue to develop my style and that my work doesn’t hit a brick wall and become stale. I don’t want to stop learning, I’m constantly researching, which I hope will only make my work stronger.