Bad Luck Veteran: Interview with Thomas Bennington

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Bad Luck Veteran: Interview with Thomas Bennington

In this interview with Thomas Bennington he talks about his background and inspirations.

Surreal and yet softly minimal, his is a unique take on the illustrative aesthetic. The visual stylings of Thomas, aka Bad Luck Veteran, are much like the concepts beneath the ink. Ghosts, whispers of death, sharp scythes, or long forgotten celluloid film stars; the black and grey vignettes of Bad Luck Veteran are like ephemeral, eidolic puffs of smoke beautifully preserved by skin.  

How did you get into tattooing and why was it the art form you were most interested in?

I got into tattooing out of curiosity, one of my roommates, at the time, got his hands on some needles and some ink and we started doing some stick and pokes on our legs. I still remember working at a breakfast restaurant and feeling the sting of a fresh tattoo on my thigh and just being excited about the next one. Not very much was going on in my life at this point, drawing was my thing and tattoo made those drawings permanent, the whole thing was captivating.

Your aesthetic reminds me of old school ball point pen drawings meets minimalist surrealism. What artists, films, visuals, or books inspired you along the way? How has your style evolved over the years?

I started out just drawing flash sheets, and very early I found @swiftdeathclub, who just makes the most harmonious sheets of flash, and I wanted to mimic his way of presenting designs. I remember being a bit obsessed with Roger Penrose and M.C Escher at first and taking idea’s from history painters like Alfred Rethel. Any interesting idea or concept that can be translated into an image is fair game. My style at first had outlines, and that was my weakness so any excuse to not do a line was great. Stand alone lines rarely find their way into my drawings now and with time the way the light hits has become more realistic than the subject matter itself. For the most part my tattoo’s have been inspired both in application and in content by other tattoo artists like @skeleton_jelly, @claygibson, @kanetrubenbacher, @rough_handz, @a.a.tattooer, @ana_and_camille, @mendonzafuturo, @acoupe, @nico_bassill to name a few.

Can you talk about the tattoo community in Montreal? What do you love about living there?

I feel like the tattoo community in Montreal is very supportive and has a lot of variety, I have only been at it for a year and a half now so I have not yet met everyone id like to, all in due time. Clients are amazing, i’ve had so many nice encounters. Also Montreal is cheap rent wise and that makes for great opportunities for artists to develop their craft without struggling too much. People seem to be bit more cold and bitter in the winter months and then in the summer our parks and streets become crowded with people enjoying life, I like this polarity. It takes time to really get to know a city, so I try to stay curious.

Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?

I want the people I tattoo to leave the studio more positive about their own body image and their decision making skills. I also want to keep learning. Success is happiness, happiness is a complicated puzzle.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What is the best advice you feel you can give?

Some tree-planting foreman once told me ‘’never wait for the cavalry”. That stuck, if I want something, I get it myself. I would advise people to do what makes them happy as cheesy as it is, because yolo.

What are you passionate about beyond tattooing? What do you do on your days off or vacations?

I have just discovered my love for traveling I think, I skateboard a little here and there, sometimes I go bouldering, anything to balance out the shrimp posture I get from tattooing. Seeing friends and family is always nice. All of these things while thinking about tattoos.

Any travel plans, collabs, or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

I would like to travel to Europe in 2019, I dont know where yet. I want to get my work in some funky places and have fun doing so, that would be sweet.