An Extract from an interview I conducted with Robert Ryan of ‘Electric Tattoo’, New Jersey, for Issue VI…..
“Your work is well known for its vibrancy; would you say that it is a calculated or intuitive characteristic? What do you enjoy so much about its use in your painting and tattoos?
I definitely think it started as an intuitive thing. At the start I was very attracted to brightly coloured tattoos, probably through the use of psychedelics and my attraction to psychedelics style painting from he 60’s and 70’s. As it began to become intuitive, it developed into being a more practical use up till now where it has evolved into being more calculated as part of my general motif…
With the rise in interest of the Old World; particularly surrounding Esotericism and the Occult, do you the overuse of such symbols within tattooing is dangerous in terms of preserving integrity? Or is it a positive thing, with such high usage ushering in a new meaning and identity?
I can see both sides of it. There is something that does exist in this world and it has done for a long time; other writers call it the symbol drain where you literally drain power from a symbol through overuse or reduce it to a mundane thing. Taking a powerful symbol and putting it on television, advertising a car with it, a political party with it…but I think its important for us as humanity in the current state and stage that we’re in to try to harness these symbols and take them back. I think there’s been abuse of symbols since way before tattooing started using them. I do think its good that people are starting to learn about them and start to get them tattooed, but we also have to ask why are people starting to get these symbols and using these esoteric symbols, and I think its because theres this invisible power struggle over these symbols as people are becoming more educated and learning about their origins…”
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