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The Most Glamorous Court Jester: Interview with Albie

The Most Glamorous Court Jester: Interview with Albie

Tattoo Artists4 min Read

In this interview with Albie we talk artistic background, the power of community, and how to survive on a desert island.

Snakes slither from portal doors that open up into checked floors and lilting lips. Fruit bowls and key holes, spotted socks and adorable doggies; Albie creates pieces that are like diving head first into a hypnagogic world of 80's Deco Revival. It's full of the vivid colors, bold designs, and playful concepts that are completely eye arresting and awe inspiring. 

Self described as a "benign fellow jester" but all jokes aside, Albie's work has a quality that merges surrealism and humor in a way that makes for an incredible portfolio. Gleaning insight from a variety of art movements and heroes, these tattoos are unique and special. There is a magic within them that can only be achieved through serendipitous surrender to the natural creative forces within. 

What was your childhood like? Do you think your upbringing directly inspired the artist you are today? 

I was always drawing a lot from a very young age. I was a kind of quiet loner kid. No one in my family is really an artist, so I’m not sure if my upbringing directly influenced my art but it probably did somehow.

How did you get into tattooing? What was the first tattoo you ever gave someone else? If you were given three words to describe your style, what would they be?

I bought a shitty machine and started tattooing myself and some of my friends. I had no idea what I was doing. The first tattoo I gave someone else was plain text of the band name “ABBA.” I eventually reached out to Shannon Perry of Valentine’s Tattoo where I work now. I knew of her work and that her shop and tattoos had more of the outsider vibe that I feel at home in. She took a chance on apprenticing me and I’ve been here ever since! I guess I would say surreal, irreverent and deco but I always feel cheesy describing my own art. I honestly feel like I’m still finding and refining my style every day. I am trying to be a good and patient student of it.

Your artwork blends a multitude of movements and styles, while also infused with your own voice. A lot of it reminds me of surrealist Joan Miro with a humorous glam twist. Who are your favorite artists, films, or books? What inspires you?

I love Joan Miro, Im glad that you see humor in it. I definitely try not to take myself too seriously. I’m influenced by women surrealists like Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington. I recently saw the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York which was wild. I’m also very inspired by Grace Jones and Yoko Ono. I love subversive ladies with style. Some of my favorite artists and biggest inspirations are my peers too. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a super strong creative community.

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You work at Valentine’s Tattoo Co. which is also home to some of the best artists in the industry. What is it like working with such talented people? What makes this particular shop special and different from the rest? 

Everyone is very supportive of each other. I genuinely love everyone that works here. We have a lot of fun and we are excited about tattooing and art. I also feel like we are integrated into the arts and feminist community around us in Seattle, most of us do art outside of tattooing whether its music or painting or performance art. We also share an intersectional feminist approach to our work and process which I think separates us from a lot of other shops. Plus its colorful and cozy and full of plants in here! Its our special club house!

What do you hope your work illustrates? Does your work comment on current social or political issues? Why do you do what you do?

I don’t know if the images in my work directly represent my politics or social vision, but I think there is a connective thread there that is more subconscious. The majority of my clients seem to share my politics and I think are intuitively drawn to my style. I think tattooing found me because I really can’t do any other job. I’m a high school drop out and I’ve been fired from so many jobs. I wanted a way to survive without having to compromise myself and be miserable working for someone else. But now that I’m in it, I see my place in it, which is being part of building of safer spaces for tattooing.

If you could teleport to anywhere in the world where would it be and why? What do you love to do when you’re not tattooing?

It’s the regular grey rain part of the year in Seattle so probably to some beautiful river swimming hole in a warm part of the world. I ‘play' guitar in a band called Terminator with two of my best friends. I’m also addicted to going to thrift and vintage stores and antique malls and I collect and hoard vintage clothing.

If you were stranded on a desert island what music would you need, and what items would you take?

The Fall’s discography and Alice Coltranes “Journey in satchidananda” Do I have a limit to what I can bring? Umm food. A lot of food. Is it warm there? Lots of art supplies and music equipment. I was gonna ask if I can bring a boat to go home but I think this isolation will be good for me actually.

What are your hopes for the year 2019?

Just that capitalism is abolished and humanity stops destroying ourselves and all people are liberated. But realistically for myself, just continuing to grow in my technical skill and voice in tattooing and music. And more traveling. 

Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

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