This month we’ll be shining our artist spotlight on Bill Read. Having been with us for approximately two years now, Bill has carved a home for himself in our roster. If you want a detailed look into how the tattoo industry has evolved from its beginnings, as simply a quality of the underground subculture, to a fully-fledged art form, Bill is the man to ask.
Bill began his career after graduating from OCAD, 27 years ago. Fresh out of school, he jumped straight into a career in tattooing. At the start of his career, Bill says the industry was a vastly different landscape, “years ago, making it as an artist, you couldn’t afford a specialty… you had to be versatile.”
The only way to achieve any success was to become a “jack off all trades”. Back in the day, anyone interested in getting a tattoo would go into their local tattoo shop, pick a design off the wall and that was that. It was a world of low custom designs. These days, Bill says, as tattoos have become more accepted in mainstream culture, the offerings of the industry and the technology available for artists to create with have also evolved. The “hard” or “rough” stigma of tattoos is now gone, which is a big change from when he first started out. The media in particular is something he believes has played a significant role in changing the way people think about tattoos.
As the industry has grown and expanded, tattooing has blossomed into a respected art style. Individuals of various artistic backgrounds are free to explore their creativity and hone their technical skills. Experimentation with new tools and the general shift towards highly detailed custom designs have really allowed artists to push their boundaries and create once in a lifetime works of art like the piece you see above. This piece is based on the artwork of sci-fi surrealist painter H.G. Giger. This tattoo is one that Bill is especially proud of. He had the pleasure the crafting it for a client who, to this day, still reports getting comments on it.
Check out more of Bill’s work in the Artist section of our site, or better yet, come down to the shop! He would be more than happy to put all of those years of perfecting his artistry to good use.
Art by Bill Read.