Name, where are you from?
My name is Henry Hate and I was born in the City Of Orange and raised in Southern California. Yet I am a gypsy and have moved around in my younger days.
What do you do?
I am a contemporary visual artist and tattoo artist, in some circles, they would say celebrity tattoo artist. But anyone these days claims to be a celebrity or public figure on social media. Abraham Lincoln was a public figure. I just create from my head and two hands and make my living from it.
Describe your style in three words?
Functional Classic Cool... I mix high end with low-end labels, but I tend to stick to traditional classic cool timeless stuff. Vintage letterman, motorcycle jackets, rock show shirts older than you. Fred Perry of course mixed with Vivienne Westwood, Rick Owens, and Vintage McQueen or Comme Des Garçon and Levis… Vintage.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was trying to get a job doing art and I was working in porn and for the Tom Of Finland Foundation and had a friend whom was a tattoo artist and was always asleep when I visited him. Him and some guys were migrating to a new shop opening. So at his suggestion I hung out like a bad smell and refused to leave till they put me to actual work with a tattoo apprenticeship. It was the start and I have Bob Vessels, Jamie Schene, Marc Culleton Paramore and Luis Favala to thank back in Hollywood for those salad days. Mind you this was the days before the Internet and social media.
Tell us about your favourite tattoo?
My favourite tattoos are all of them as all mine are mostly black and grey and I like the severity of their look. Based on my Catholic upbringing and my vices. What is on the label with me is definitely in the tin. As for a favourite tattoo I have done I couldn’t choose. I would say that over the span of my career I guess 20% is where I hit the nail on the head and knocked it out of the park. Yet that’s like asking to choose a favourite pet or kid. Some clients have been pretty memorable. What surprises me is that I see a tattoo and compliment my client on the work and ask who did it, and they reply you did. Then I think Ok I don’t suck... But I was trained as an all-rounder so I do what’s put in front of me. And that is how I built my clientele, they don’t chase trends perseé. I’m just happy they like what I do. No more no less.
How has tattoo culture changed since you moved to London?
Tattoo shops are like rabbits now they are everywhere, and social media has changed it. It used to be that tattoo artists worked and stayed in their own patch and kind of looked out for each other and kept secrets and shared them with a select few. Now you can go on youtube and watch someone teach you how to tune a machine. But then the new kids moan that their tattoo has been copied. There are only so many ways to do a skull gypsy head with roses. To me there are more pressing issues in the world than a tattoo. But I think what has really changed is the way the younger kids place so much identity on a tattoo and claim ownership over it. I get that everything has been done under the sun. But some get worked up over tattoo designs. The amount of tattoo conventions is mind boggling. There is virtually one a week. There are about 14 shops that really place London tattoos on the map. Author Tom Angel wrote a book to list those shops. What I think is a shame is the old time English tattoo that was essentially the working class tattoo has become lost and Dennis Cockell whom I was fortunate enough to work in his old shop when I first arrived put those on the map. He invented the Stray Cat Tattoo and the Billy Idol Tattoo that I thought was ugly but still cool enough for me to seek the shop out.
A British icon that has inspired you?
Definitely Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood. Terry Hall of the Specials as I had a huge crush on him. I loved all the early eighties English Music stuff. As a kid whom grew up in the 70s and 80s hearing the music for the first time was a thrilling experience and being able to see some of the bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees. And for like $12 was truly a miracle. English Punk was very crucial to shaping me, and then I came across the Rude Boyz of ska and dug the skanking and saw Bad Manner when they first came to LA. Gigs back then were a little more dangerous and that was thrilling to me cause you just didn’t know what was going to happen. But I always stayed clear of the meathead jocks from Redondo Beach and Huntington Beach as they always wanted to fight. So, in a nutshell, all British Counter Culture was inspirational to me. It was just a big f*ck you, and f*ck what everyone thinks.
Tell us about the tattoos you designed for Amy Winehouse?
Amy’s tattoos were very spontaneous and when I drew the first one I did it in like 5 minutes based on her Nan Cynthia who was a looker and the glue of the Winehouse Family. She was very proud of her nan and wanted to commemorate the woman. I didn’t think it would be as identifiable as it would go on to be. I clicked with Amy and could have been done in about an hour or so but we hit it off and chatted and was amazed at how funny and self-effacing she was. I tattooed her boyfriend at the time too, Alex Claire whom has now had them all removed. She wanted all her tattoos to represent portions of her life. Like the label matched the tin. And I respect that about clients whom don’t chase trends but declare that this is them on their body. To me, you don’t get much more punk rock than that. But Amy’s tattoos are also about her love of her family. She had a VERY BIG HEART.
Tell us about the rose/bird design you created for the Amy Winehouse Foundation Collection?
The London tattoo rose I think is a representation of Amy and the cycle of life. Classic, timeless, and like a Fred Perry, never goes out of style. Despite it being hard to live in London it’s a beautiful city with its thorns.
Every year a rose will still bloom despite the tough weather. Also, it’s a reminder to stop and take note to smell the roses and appreciate the beauty that is around you. Amy was very proud to be a London girl. Tough on the outside, but very sensitive and innocent on the inside and I think that is most London girls. This is a shout out to the tough council estate girls with hearts of gold, of London and the UK.
Name, where are you from?