Well this one was kind of a special one of me. Interviewing an artist whom I have loved since I found my love for comic books, Mr Paul Abstruse.
Super Saiyan Goku by Paul Abstruse
HOW DID YOU GET INTO TATTOOING?
It’s funny you ask that. I used to work as a sticker printer over in Botany & I lived in Newtown at the time. Every day I would come home and walk right past this tattoo studio…It is actually the one that I am across from right now. One day I was like…you know what…I do work as a comic book artist & I get paid fuck all. My motivation was money. I thought that was another field in which I still could be creative & make a little bit of money. I didn’t know how much money I could make back then…thought it would be just a pittance, but it still would have been more than I was making at the time. So yeah…I just went in and asked if they were looking for an apprentice, I’ve got a whole bunch of art that I can show you and they were like, yeah! Come back tomorrow. So I came back the next day & showed them the comic book artworks that I had been working on & they said yep…..You’re in. It was as easy as that. I was VERY lucky back then. I did that job for about 2yrs as I jumped from shop to shop…..I only stayed 6mths at that shop in Newtown (until they fired me!)
WHY THE FUCK DID THEY FIRE YOU???
Well I didn’t have the money to buy the equipment needed…cause I was a povo artist and so they said “If you can’t afford the equipment, you are going to have to fuck off!. I was like…well ok then. Thanks.
I then went & worked at this one place in Glebe. It was above a clothing store that is no longer there. I was there for 1 week before I had an argument with the landlord and then he just shut the place down.
Then I left it about 2 months or something & I ended up in a studio on Oxford St. I stayed there for around a year – year & a half. I learned as much as I could. The guy was a TERRIBLE artist
Paul hard at work @ the Australian International Tattoo Expo Sydney 2016 doing a Dexter portrait.
THAT MAKES IT HARD!
It did man! He was very old school & set in his ways. He taught me a lot of old school things like how to make your own needles, and you know…a lot of the old school trades, which are long forgotten about now (by today's teachers) and I thank him for that…And he was generally a pretty nice guy. He ended up actually firing me as well because I tattooed a guy after hours and I didn’t tell him. But I didn’t charge him for it & I didn’t make any money out of it, I just didn’t tell him about it. He cracked the shits & he was gunning for a reason to fire me anyway because work had slowed down. So anyway that’s what happened. I then left it for about…maybe 12 years
Yeah it was. Then 3 or 4 years ago my Niece had a partner and he found out that I was a tattooist. I in the meantime had followed my comic book career path…I had already made my name there and what not. I had told him that that part of my life is gone…its finished (tattooing)…I don’t want to be involved with it anymore and after about 6mths of bugging & pestering me he eventually convinced me…and bought me some shitty equipment and I did my first tattoo on him and I was like…wow, I remember how much I really enjoy doing this!
SO IT BROUGHT YOUR PASSION BACK?
Yeah! I was like, I might just continue this as a hobby & um…yeah, it just went from there & slowly started to escalate more & more from there. Then I started to transition all my comic book work into the tattooing…no one else did it, so I did it! That’s what hooked me right in!!!
My Little Pony by Paul Abstruse
YOU ARE A PIONEER!
Ohhhh…well I don’t know about that, but hmmmmmmm…maybe????
HAVE YOU HAD ANY SPECIAL TRAINING?
Only the shitty apprenticeships that I mentioned earlier. I am self-taught. I bring A LOT of things that I learned in comic book art into my tattooing. A lot of the line work & line weight stuff & getting it correct & proportions & perspective & Light & shadow & everything like that. But the real challenge for me was, I strictly dealt in Black & white art. And as you know I do ALL my (tattoo) work in colour now and THAT has been the real challenge. That is where the fun is for me!
One of my all time favorite pieces of my favorite character. Heath's Joker by Paul Abstruse
HAVE YOU GOT A FAVORITE CHARACTER THAT YOU TATTOO?
I don’t have a favorite character per say. What I really enjoy is a challenge. Because I can do any old thing. I can bang out any character when an image is in front of me, but when the client goes “do what you Want with this image” I’m like…so…I can add 2 light sources or I could add 3 light sources.
WHAT COLOURED LIGHT SOURCES?
Generally I would use like a yellow/daylight white sight source, then I would pick, depending on the main colour of the character I would use an adjacent or complimentary colour to be a rim light and then I would have the background colour which would be the opposite to the rim light.
Then it all just falls in to place & then I LOVE thinking about cool & warm colours….If the main character is a cool colour then you can have a warm background & vice versa…I fucking love it! I am learning all this stuff now & THAT’S what I like. I love doing stuff like that. So any character per say.
If I was forced to choose….I don’t like doing Iron Man
OK, WOW… I THOUGHT HE WOULD BE A FAV?
He is REALLY hard….Red is a really hard colour to get in to the skin and gold is really hard to get good.
Probably the one I really like doing is the real girly superheroes. They always come out real sexy!
Marvel Collage by Paul Abstruse
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED DOING YOUR COMIC BOOK STYLE I.E BLACK & GREY IN YOUR TATTOOING?
It’s funny you say that…cause I literally just had a woman walk in for a consultation and she is getting a Wonder Woman…and she HATES colour….LOVES black & grey…and I was like are you sure???? Are you sure you want to go black & grey?? She is like…see this humming bird tattoo here? I is in colour & I am getting removed slowly.
The thing is, most of the time when I have seen it done in black & grey, it doesn’t come out as nice…it really depends on the artist I think.
WELL IM A BIG FAN OF YOUR BLACK & GREY IN YOUR COMIC BOOK WORK SO I THOUGHT IT MAY LEND ITSELF TO THE TATTOOING SIDE OF THINGS?
I know…but that’s different…that’s portrait work…see that where on skin, you have little crevices & bumps & a lot a lot of the stuff that I have done are ugly creatures, whereas Wonder woman is like….she is slick & smooth & gorgeous so it definitely a whole different ball game man!
So I don’t know man…I haven’t done many (Black & Greys) let’s just say that, so we will soon see!
Wonder Woman in full glory by Paul Abstruse
WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
Comic book wise, Greg Capullo, J. Scott Campbell & Joe Madureira……… Those 3 are fucking GODS!
I COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE!
I am actually designing my right sleeve where I am getting this ….… I have 2 signatures from 2 of the artists mentioned above….all I need is Greg Capullo’s. I will be getting what I consider their pivotal characters tattooed on my arm with their creators signature underneath.
And for tattooing, obviously you have to love Nikko Hurtado, I love him more for his tutorials actually…he just spills EVERYTHING….I am like a sponge, I just soak it all up.
Locally, I love Troy Slack…Matthew BUMER Joyce, There is this guy over in Montreal called Luka Lajoie..…he is…I think he is actually better than Nikko man…his stuff is fucking next level!
I aspire to people who are great. In saying that, probably the person who I aspire to be, that I know who I cannot compete against is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Have you ever read his book Total Recall?
NO, NOT YET
You really need to read it….it is fucking mind-blowing!
His life is astonishing!
And then at the end of it he has 10 rules you need to follow in your life, and they are essential rules to being extremely successful.
I DEFINTELY HAVE TO READ THAT!
Yes….you definitely have to read that….fucking mind-blowing stuff!
Poison Ivy by Paul Abstruse
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST REQUEST YOU HAVE HAD FOR A TAT?
I had one recently….and I don’t know if I am going to go through with it. It sounds really awkward….It’s Shakespeare as a superhero.
WOW! I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT!
Yeah….either was I!
That’s probably the weirdest I have had in a long time. Generally its pretty run of the mill stuff.
I AM STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW THE FUCK THAT TAT WORKS!
Yeah man…I don’t know either! I am yet to have a consultation with this client so I have no idea!
WHAT COMIC BOOKS DID YOU GROW UP ON?
When I was a kid, I grew up on War Comics. They were the ones that I was exposed to. But I didn’t read any mainstream comics until I started to work in a comic book store when I was 21. There I started reading Spawn, hence Greg Capullo and that sort of branched out & lead me to Battle Chasers which is Joe Mad & then there was a bit of Crimson by Ramos & obviously J. Scott Campbell with Danger Girl…the whole cliff-hanger thing was pretty cool….I fucking loved that.
I wasn’t really a huge fan of DC….Marvel I sort of nipped at but only if my favourite artist worked on it and that’s about it. OH, and probably the only book that I sort of went with was The Goon by Eric Powell….that shit was fucking hilarious!
Scooby Doo & Daphne by Paul Abstruse
WHAT COMIC BOOK / ISSUE WOULD YOU LOVE TO ILLUSTRATE?
NICE! I WAS HOPING YOU WERE GOING TO SAY THAT!
It’s just……It’s just my dream project. I would even love to tattoo Ghost Rider!
I have never done it!
I have only seen one good on…that was done by Alex Bock….and that’s it.
I would LOVE to do that character!
I LOVE this concept! My Little Pony X Pulp Fiction! By Paul Abstruse
WOULD THAT BE YOUR FAVORITE COMIC BOOK CHARACTER THEN?
No……..It’s hard to pick a favourite man. I grew up with everything man, you know…..So it’s hard to pinpoint a fav….but yeah I would probably say that Ghost Rider would be up there.
WHAT IS THE BEST MAINSTREAM COMIC THAT HAS NOT BEEN TURNED INTO A HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER YET?
I MEAN YEAH, THEY HAVE DONE THE BATMANS & SPIDER MANS, AVENGERS, IRON MAN…….EVEN GHOST RIDER!
Yeah….they fucked that one up didn’t they! (Ghost Rider)
THEY SURE DID!
Man, I’m a HUGE fan of films….that’s where I draw my inspiration from. But what would I like to see done???? That is mainstream??? I don’t think there is anything “mainstream” man…I mean, like I said, I REALLY don’t follow marvel or DC……Maybe Image Comics? They did a Witchblade TV series a while back……Spawn was obviously awful…..That was a TERRIBLE film….They are remaking that one apparently
I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A REMAKE OF SPAWN!
Yeah man…They are remaking it!!!
That is a REALLY tough question man!
SORRY TO STUMP YOU MATE!
You got me on that one!
Another spin on The Joker by Paul Abstruse
TO FINISH UP PAUL, WE PUT EVERY GUEST WE INTERVIEW UP FOR OUR “QUICK SIX”…..ARE YOU READY?
IF YOU WERE TONY STARK FOR A DAY….WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Steal his fucking suit!
BEST VILLAIN OF ALL TIME?
Ahhh…..Oh Fuck….Best Villain….of all time….shit man… I am actually drawing a blank on that one!
I really can’t think…..I’ll probably thing of one later when I’m on the toilet or something….Sorry man….can’t think of one!!!!
THE LAST “HOLY SHIT” MOMENT THAT YOU CAN REMEMBER?
Last night when I accidentally said the wrong thing to my girlfriend! I will be back peddling on that for a while!
WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE THAT WAS SO BAD YOU COULD NOT FINISH WATCHING IT?
That would have to be “I’m Still Here” with Joaquin Phoenix…. That shit was fucking awful!
IF YOU COULD PICK YOUR MIDDLE NAME, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
T.M.I (Too Much Information)
TRANSFORMERS OR VOLTRON?
Voltron man…transformers are shot to hell…..way to commercialized these days…..it’s gone!
AND NOW WE COME TO AN END MY FRIEND!
Awesome man…that was cool…..thanks heaps man…and thanks for the Cuppa Tea!
You can find HEAPS more of Paul's work @ the following links;
My Little (Undead) Pony by Paul Abstruse
All images shown are copyright by their respective owners.