Greg Nicholson, what can be said about Greg Nicholson? “I heard he once tattooed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” pipes up one of his 63K Instagram followers. “Oh really? Well, I heard he does tattoo machine commercials...in Japan,” offers up another. “One time, he responded to my comment on Instagram about what stencil papers he prefers. It was awesome.”
All Regina George jokes aside, Greg Nicholson is a man of mystery. Operating somewhere out of the wooded, misty mountains of British Columbia, Nicholson’s work is a beautiful progression of fine lined black and grey combined with realism that’s absolutely captivating from shoulder to wrist.
Drawing on inspiration from cities, nature, mythology, and everyday objects, Nicholson’s work is shockingly lifelike. Having the ability to create an accurate portrait is one thing, but possessing the ability to perfectly capture the way that a marble statue looks, is positioned, as well as the shadow it casts is something else entirely.
If you look a little closer at each of the sleeves he creates, it becomes increasingly apparent that every tiny detail of his work it thoroughly researched. The black, thick lace that accompanies the hand mirror and pearls is the actual pattern of French Leavers lace, a specific type of machine that requires a specific type of loom, the dots at the edges of the flowers the places where the thread has been hand finished and tied off. The totem pole that accompanies his British Columbia themed sleeve an exact replication of one of the tribes native to that land.
The trick to mastering realism is research, knowing each and every aspect of the tattoo like the back of your hand — and with the amount of detail placed in every single one of Nicholson’s pieces, we half expect him to be pouring over encyclopedias, museums, the subtleties of nature the weeks leading up to an appointment. We might not know much about the man behind the sleeves, but he knows a lot about what he’s putting in them.