Tattoo artist and illustrator Galen Bryce has been up, down, and all around the New York scene. His work is bright, heavily illustrative, and eclectic — there’s a little bit of Garbage Pail Kids, a little bit of 1980’s horror sci-fi, a little bit of Ren and Stimpy. His color has a neon quality to it, like something that would rage under a blacklight, and his line work is reminiscent of underground indie comics masters like Lynda Barry, R. Crumb, and Kim Deitch; and his journey into tattooing is as varied and eclectic as his style is.
After graduating from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in printmaking and video art, Bryce originally started his artistic journey in a film studio straight out of school. Working in production, he worked on the likes of television, independent films, and reality TV. “It was a good gig, but It wasn't creatively fulfilling,” Bryce says. “I just needed to get away from the city and re-explore my creative options.”
Once back in Rochester, New York, a friend told Bryce a local tattoo shop, Doc Yager's Tattoo, was looking for an apprentice. Hoofing it street-style, Bryce went in with his portfolio and came out with the gig. While Doc Yager was a very chill space to start out, this apprenticeship was of the shotgun variety. Bryce was only tattooing with a machine two weeks before his mentor put him on skin.
Bryce bounced around the city working in shops throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan for a year until landing at Whatever Tattoo down in St. Mark’s. Going from a rural, small shop, to a highly specialized custom shop, to a street shop isn’t the usual order of operations, but it’s worked out over time for Bryce’s trajectory as an artist. After toiling away, paying his dues tattooing the usual suspects (and many drunk NYU students) on the late night St. Mark’s shifts, Bryce again found himself craving more out of his artistic career.
"I feel for the first time, I have an artistic direction, and a style that is unique to me ... "
" ... And now that I've found it, I'm not turning back."
Returning to to New York with a new found self-respect and spiritual drive, Bryce decided to freelance for a while until he could build a portfolio he felt was worthy of re-applying to a custom tattoo shop with, this time having felt he'd earned it. After six months of freelance, Bryce was ready, and just like he had for his first shop, he hit the streets, portfolio in hand. This walk-about eventually lead him to Hustler's Parlour in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.