Out on the dividing line between the chaos of Canal street and the bougiest blocks of SoHo, you might stumble across a beautiful storefront gilded in golden lettering — the new (and improved) home of Ami James and Chris Garver's Love Hate Social Club.
The double doors open to a small waiting area and reception desk. The space is quaint and colorful, with the tattoo floor separated slightly by a half wall. Artwork adorns most of the visible wall-space. Snakes and dragons weave in and out of their respected frames. There are quite a few stand-out artists that call this Love Hate their home, but today we're here to see Guy Waisman — Israeli-born tattooer from Tel Aviv, and full-timer at the studio.
Today he has an appointment with a first-timer whose husband has been tattooed by Waisman previously. She wants a mandala on her forearm.
As his client fills out the necessary paperwork, the floor manager runs back to the drawing room to alert Guy that she's here. He glances over to the one way mirror, takes his already-prepared design off the drawing table, and places it into the carbon copier to shrink the palm-size design down by 15%.
“First tattoo, I didn’t know it was a girl. She’s not going to want it this big...,” he says to himself. He cuts around the newly made smaller-copy, snatches the larger original, and makes his way outside for the consult.
Surprisingly, his client decides to go with the bigger version.
After receiving his first tattoo in his hometown at the ripe young age of sixteen (the legal age in Israel), Guy was hooked. He knew then and there he wanted to be a tattoo artist. Not long after, he began experimenting with the craft on himself, and eventually, other people. Practice led him to his first formal apprenticeship.
Two years into that apprenticeship, Guy felt he was going nowhere real fast and severed ties with that shop to be a piercer at Psycho Tattoo in Tel Aviv. It was there he received that first tattoo at sixteen, by shop owner Avi Vanunu. Guy knew piercing wasn’t the be-all-end-all, but he took the job to get a foot in the door. That foot-in-the-door lasted roughly four years, but the path was clear and he had patience. Eventually he would earn an apprenticeship with Avi, who helped shape the building blocks of his career.
From day one, Waisman knew what he liked. Black tattoos and geometric shapes. Alex Binnie and Xed LeHead were his main influence in styling shapes and dotwork. The texture, coupled with the precise care it took to apply made Guy feel he could take his time and perfect his designs with this method. Claus Fuhrman was his biggest inspiration for learning how to get "deep into the details." A strong background in graphic design also lent itself well to the equation.
If it were up to Guy, he’d rather do large-scale work even though he admits it tends to be difficult. “I guess the most challenging part is the composition, to build it all,” he says. “To make something new and different than work you did before, and something different than what other artists do. If you have a clean canvas, it’s easier than if you have to work around existing pieces.”
Working in the rigidity and perfection that is the geometric style has its restraints, but Guy's hand comes through. "Other people will see your tattoos and see that there is something that is coming back all the time," he says. "That’s how they recognize it’s your tattoo. It could be in the spacing between lines. But it’s something you do naturally, because of the way you see things.”