Tattoo Artist I Adore – Geary Morrill
I started this blog mainly because I am a huge tattoo geek and absolutely LOVE tattoos, tattoo artists, tattoo culture, tattoo shops, tattoo conventions etc. etc. Turns out I’m not only a tattoo geek, but also a tattoo snob because I only want to look at/experience the very best of all of those categories. Luckily for me – and many more like me – the tattoo world contains many superlative examples of skill, talent, and creativity. Geary Morrill is a tattoo artist that pushes all my geeky tattoo fan-girl buttons.
I had the chance to watch Geary Morrill work at the Tahoe Tattoo Convention and was intrigued by the solid color block cat tattoo he was laying down on a rather stoic young woman’s thigh and I got to watch him work again when he whipped up this rad Kurt Cobain drawing for some lucky future client whilst I passed a very pleasant afternoon getting tattooed by Teresa Sharpe at Unkindness Art. I was impressed with Geary’s completely unique approach to color, composition, creativity, and overall design. In the world of tattoos you may see many excellent examples of the same image – say a tiger, skull or rose – but how often do you see a tattoo that completely defies category or description and approaches color theory like an acid-infused carnival ride? And don’t even get me started on his line work – razor sharp and clean as a whistle. My inner tattoo geek cried out to know more and Geary graciously took the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.
TT: When did you first start tattooing? What drew you to it?
Geary Morrill: I started tattooing in 1999. I was about 22. I had been getting tattoos since I was 18, and some of my friends encouraged me to take up tattooing. I wasn’t really aware of what a long, crazy road that would be for me. I was initially attracted to the counterculture lifestyle associated with tattooing. The old “I don’t care what anyone thinks, I am gonna do this my way” attitude that really permeated tattooing in the times before it was quite so socially accepted. I was kinda in on the end of a different era. It was edgier, then. More punk rock. I really loved that. very unique.
TT: Your style is so unique. What are your influences in developing this style?
Geary: The style I have is something that I tailored to my strong suits. I call it psycho-trad. It is a pop-art with a psychedelic aesthetic, steeped in some traditional tattoo application and sensibility. I also draw influence from all types of modern art, as well as street art and cartoon animation. I like to look outside of tattooing for inspiration, and I am always trying to grow and find new ways to build upon what I do!
TT: Are there any other artists emulating what you do? What are your thoughts on that?
Geary: I don’t really know if other artists are emulating me. At least not consciously. I see things here and there. Little things, and I wonder “Did they get that idea from me?” I think it’s cool. I think if you really do something….If you change the way people look at tattoos or art, and you add an element that is worthwhile back into the collective consciousness, then other people are going to take it, and hopefully add to it, and make it different or better. I hope that one day I can look back and see that. I think that would be cool.
TT: What is your ideal client like? Do you feel like you need to educate your clients about your work or do they come to you specifically for your style?
Geary: My clients are really very fun people. I don’t think you can look at my body of work and want to get tattooed by me if you aren’t an open-minded creative type. I am always amazed at the people who sit in my chair. I have such a connection with them. It is always neat to spend time with someone who vibes with your work, and then find out that you have so much more than that in common. But the art is what brings you both together. With no words or agenda. It just puts the two of you there and says “now figure out why you are both here”. I am very lucky in that way. It seems my clients understand that as much, if not more than I do. I don’t have to do much explaining. So I would say that my ideal client is anyone that makes it into my chair.
TT: Who are your big influences in the tattoo world?
Geary: My influences in the tattoo world are many, and for different reasons. I look up to so many people. I think that spiritually, I really look at Jeff Gogue and think, “Man, that guy is getting it right.” As a person who has a family, I look at people like Mike Mankin and James Hurley for inspiration. Those dudes are super devoted fathers who do awesome tattoos, and will outwork anyone in the studio. When it comes purely to artistic style, I love Jonathan Penchoff, Zack Singer, Tin Machado, Kati Berinky, Tobias Berchert, and Mike Riina.
TT: What does the future hold for you and your career?
Geary: Well, as for my immediate future, I am just about to move home to Michigan. I have been in Richmond ,VA working at Unkindness Art with my friends Teresa Sharpe and Erin Chance. They gave me a great opportunity, and a guy couldn’t ask for better people to work for. That being said, I feel a very strong urge to open my own space, back home. I have always had a vision of it, and at 39 yrs. old, it seems like if I am going to make it happen, I better get at it. I will be back in Michigan mid December, and will be calling Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery my home base until my studio is open. I will be doing a bit of traveling in the mean time as well, and will be posting all of my travel dates on my Instagram account @__Roy.G.Biv__
Thank you Geary Morrill for your time and talent!!!
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