Liam Ryan is a tattoo artist from London, Uk. Liam began his tattooing career at the age of fifteen. Since then, he has tattooed in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, London and Paris. Liam's work has evolved from its beginnings in traditional Japanese freehand work, to black and grey realism to Lettering, which is now his specialism. Taking inspiration from Chicano and decorative script to carve his own signature style. Liam is currently a resident artist at Motorink Finest Tattooing in the heart of Amsterdam, where he works with a lively and returning client base from all over Europe.
Motorink is a custom tattoo studio situated in the centre of Amsterdam, with resident artists specializing in all styles of tattooing. Its international artists and location combine to create an energetic and ultra creative atmosphere, where individuality and custom tattooing are at its heart. In this interview, Liam Ryan discusses the studio, finding inspiration, and staying true to a signature style whilst working with the client.
What brought you to Motorink?
I came here as a guest artist, and I loved the energy of the shop. They recognized my passion for lettering. We both knew the direction I wanted to go with my lettering, and now I’m here as a resident artist where we are working hard to make it happen.
How does tattooing in Amsterdam differ from the other cities you’ve worked in?
The majority of people here are tourists, so the vibe tends to be more laid back., which means there more likely to listen to us. Considering we have many years of experience between us, it’s nice to be heard. I love tattooing in different cities, but there is something about Amsterdam where tattooing will always be a huge part of the scene.
What kind of work do you encourage clients to get?
Good work. Do your research; find an artist you like, preferably someone who specializes in what you want. Also, be open-minded. I heard a great quote from a great tattoo artist, “sometimes what you want is not what is best”
What excites you the most about the tattooing community?
So many different things. The direction its going in, it never stops moving forward, and I like that because you must keep up with it to compete. Even in my short eight years of tattooing, the work being made has become something that people would never have expected. Now the proof is there, I really don’t know where it could be in eight more years. Also the love great artist show worldwide, social media has made it even easier to hit your artist up and tell them how much you dig their work. Sometimes a simple comment from an artist you respect so much can push you to put in more work than before.
How has the industry changed since you began?
I mean as said before, a lot, in good ways and in bad ways. There is now a tattoo shop on every corner in most cities now. This doesn’t always mean there are always good artists inside; as its very easy to pick a machine up, but its not easy to work hard at something that takes years of dedication to achieve.
Overall, I don’t know everyone’s reasons for getting into tattooing but I just wish there was more respect shown in the industry, from the public and other artists. If someone can do a better job than you, as a humble artist you should inform the client and point them in the right direction.
How did you begin tattooing?
I began like most, just trying some work out on myself. At the age of 15, my mother bought me a machine. She’ll kill me that I told you! I made a promise to her that no skin would be touched. Obviously, that didn’t last long and was tattooing most of my local area by the age of 16. I got an apprenticeship at 17 and I haven’t stopped since then.
Who would you describe as your biggest influence?
I love Norm, Scriptinator, Yung Chavo, Big Meas, Big Sleeps, Boog, Homiekwun, Flaks and anyone else who creates custom tattoos. These are just some of my personal favorites.
You specialize in script, so when you search for inspiration for your Lettering pieces, where’s the first stop?
For styles, I look at my peers. But generally, I just draw to see what flows I can create. And my inspiration for what I should write normally comes from music or other influential characters like Bob Marley and Snoop Dogg for example. Quotes, Family names and Cities are my favorites to tattoo.
What’s so different about Motorink?
We generally care about your wellbeing. People don’t want to hear this, but 99 percent of my customers don’t leave with what they asked for. They are not Artists, let alone Tattoo Artists, so understand that we know best. You must be open-minded. We understand that you want what you want, but we know what will work best for you using as much of your idea as we can.
You now have 30k followers on Tattoodo. Congratulations. How does it make you feel to know that so many people have had access to your work?
Humbled and Hungry! I’ve worked hard for a long time and from a young age. There were times I didn’t think this shit would happen, but what you want you will get if you put the time and work in. I come from a small town in London, and I now get to tattoo in different countries. Tattoodo helps me show the world what I’m currently doing and keeping people up to date with my style. Anyone that helps promote good tattoos is great for the industry.
Leave us with a quote you live by.
‘No risk, no reward.’