Scott Campbell: tattooing his legacy in fine art.
A breath of fresh air from the southern states.
While his tattoo shop, Saved Tattoo, is located in the trendy territory of Williamsburg, Scott Campbell’s fine art studio is tucked away in just one of many unassuming warehouses of the up-and-coming Bushwick neighbourhood of Brooklyn. His dog, Texas, barrels out on to the sidewalk to greet (and size-up) newcomers, as Campbell, complete with blue dress shoes, slicked back hair and a smile, coaxes him from the door. Though Campbell’s now more accustomed to big city living, his warmth suggests that southern hospitality still comes easily to this Louisiana native. While his recent marriage to actress Lake Bell made for tabloid fodder, Campbell seems to be grounded in his success.
He shows off his artwork with excitement and humbleness – refreshing, as it’s not exactly easy to break into the New York City art scene as an outsider, let alone trade in tattoo guns for notable galleries.
The prominence waits in line.
But with a client list that consists of inked-up celebrities such as Marc Jacobs, Josh Hartnett, and Orlando Bloom, it’s no wonder the paparazzi preyed on his wedding guests, which included the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz.
We spent a Saturday morning with Campbell to talk about the differences he’s found between tattoo art and fine art, and his time spent building jury-rigged tattoo guns for prisoners in Mexico City.
New York – the city of possibilities.
First off, congratulations to you! How was the wedding?
It was great! I never imagined myself as someone who would get excited about a wedding. We had such a great crew of friends and family, we could’ve done it in a bowling alley and it would’ve been a great time.
You’re a successful tattoo artist, and have managed to translate that aesthetic into fine art and design. How did that transition happen?
It happened pretty organically. I feel like New York City was a big catalyst for that, just in that I’ve been tattooing here for a while, and through tattooing came a really great opportunity for me to work and collaborate with some of my favourite artists that I’ve always looked up to here in the New York community.
Where art lives.
New York has such a vitality to it, it has such an energy, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in it. So I started by doing a couple of group shows with friends of mine and artists here, and it evolved naturally.
When you say New York artists, is there anyone in particular that you looked to?
I hung out a lot with Dash Snow, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, and they were all huge inspirations, and friends. I grew up in rural Louisiana, and so what little art exposure I had was from museums there, or from books and films that I would happen upon, and the art world became this really fantastic, almost hypothetical world.