The Bold Blackwork Of Ben Volt
You're in for some heavy, calculated, and bold blackwork with Ben Volt's solid tattoo designs.
Abstract and geometric. Conceptual and bold. Electric. Dynamic and kinetic. Angular and futuristic while being influenced by vintage graphic design. Those are the words blackwork tattooist Ben Volt used to describe his work.
And as for his moniker, Ben explains, “I like everything to have a sense of movement and electricity, hence the name Volt.”
Ben currently tattoos at Scholar Tattoo in San Francisco.
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“I find inspiration everywhere,” says Ben. “Patterns, archetypes, and symbols. Anything from indigenous tribal tattoos and cultures around the world. Art deco, Modernism, Bauhaus, Dada, the Avant-Garde, etc. Vintage band t-shirts and treasures from dusty thrift stores. Midcentury design aesthetics. Op-Art. Classic one color crust punk graphics. Retro futuristic movies. Anything that is bold and powerful and evokes some sort of movement or emotion. Vibe.”
“I’m interested in making art as timeless as these influences,” he adds.
Ben's father was an engineer who made circuit boards and complex electrical structures. Given the nature of his father's work, Ben grew up surrounded by computers, geometric pieces, diodes, and different sorts of random computer parts. He became drawn to anything that has something to do with precision. These were the things that first sparked the young Ben's interest in conceptual designs.
Aside from the contraptions of his old man, Ben was also exposed to sci-fi movies, weird cartoons, and f-cked up humor as a kid. “[They were] a bit dark and esoteric. I guess that has kind of seeped into my style today,” he says.
A product of the 1990’s music scene, Ben was heavily influenced by alternative genres of music such as old school hardcore, goth, industrial, shoegaze and heavy guitar-laden stuff. Ben also played and toured with emo bands then, involving him further with the music scene.
“Listening to these kinds of loud, strange, conceptual and noisy records taught me yet another level of abstraction that also strongly translated and informed my art,” he says.
Conceptual. I see things differently. When I make something I always want to do it in a way that you’ve never seen it done before. I get bored and am not interested in rehashing the same ideas over and over again. It’s not an artistic victory for me to do something that has already been done. I want to always push to a new place, even if it’s not widely received or easy for the viewer.
Ben's signature style was derived from his desire to create things in a way people don't often get to see. He's not one for hyperrealism.
“The freedom to do what you want to do. The fact that everything you create or put energy into is purely for yourself. No bosses. Being able to completely call the shots in your life. Making art, leaving your mark and being connected to people forever.” —Ben Volt on the best thing about being a tattoo artist
And finally, we asked him about something other aspiring tattoo artists would like “It's the hardest thing I've ever learned to do. You have to be a strong person to make it through. You have to really love it. Don't worry about fame or making money. Do what you love, and the rest will come. Also, it is a huge responsibility to people; one that should not be taken lightly.”