Interview by YOU for Brandon Bond
-A refreshing series of questions posed by the members of the All or Nothing message board-
Brandon Bond is one of the most interviewed tattoo artists on the planet. Tattoo artist interviews are usually based on a "paint by numbers" list of uninteresting questions. "What are your influences?" "How long have you been tattooing?" and other retarded inquiries flooded his first sixty articles or so.
In an attempt to avoid this, Brandon posted a request for questions that you guys wanted to know about on the messageboard at www.allornothingtattoo.com. This is a collection of those questions and his answers and will be used in the next round of interviews and featured articles worldwide.
The forum thread that produced this can be found here:
Q) What do you visualize before developing a tattoo?
A) The flow on the body and the ability to determine what the image is from afar is key. I work with a body part and go crazy with it.
Q) If you could tattoo anyone in the world (living or dead), who would it be and what would you tattoo on them?
A) I would tattoo a picture of Tupac on Jesus Christ. With an AK under it that says M.O.B. (money over b*tches) - or I would tattoo Satan with "la vida loca"
Q) Do you ever sleep?
A) Yes, but not nearly enough. Even my staff has no idea what goes on at the office everyday, and there’s no way they could - web guys see the web stuff, artists see the clients, Stranglehold folks see the Stranglehold orders, printers see the printing, the graphics department sees the graphics, but I am the only person that sees ALL of it. I’m not complaining a bit - that’s the job I signed on for when I created this chaotic circus. Haters can say whatever they want, but no one has EVER called me lazy.
Q) What is up with your obsession with guns?
A) I get a lot of sh*t for the whole interest in guns from some folks, so here’s the deal: I was born into a wonderful family and there I was taught that the protection of that family is my job as a loving participant. I learned to shoot guns before I even knew what a cuss word was. I was taught safety, respect, and regard for human life, I learned that a gun is as safe as its owner is, and I am extremely careful with my firearms.
I love shooting, my father loves shooting, my wife loves it and a lot of our staff and clients love it. I have very little free time, and what free time I have I like to spend with close friends and quality firearms. It’s a hobby, like quilting. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with my job, or the four businesses I own.
I am trained in tactical shooting, entry, sub-gun, long-gun, shotgun and handgun courses by our local SWAT team, as well as having shot piles of law enforcement guns at law enforcement targets with the guidance of law enforcement officers. I have had extensive military training with a Lt. Colonel involved in special forces focusing on disarming people and using their weapons against them, and Dave Tedder and I have been training off and on for over a year with a DEA firearms teacher (with an incredibly STRICT curriculum). It’s what we love to do, that’s all.
Q) How did you get to be as good as you are and who was your teacher?
A) I had many teachers - in the since that I looked at tattoo magazines and lived in tattoo shops - but no one ever really sat me down and showed me much of anything after my "apprenticeship.” I started tattooing at a small shop in Ft. Walton Beach FL that is still there called Tattoo Zoo.
I think I achieved the level of success that I have based on hard work - tattooing constantly, never giving in, and focusing on nothing else, for over a decade. Perseverance, constant and throbbing. I tried everything, every machine I could, every ink, and when I was asleep, I was still dreaming about tattooing.
I focused on it so much that I started to resent tattooing, believe it or not. The business side of our empire is constantly attempting to take me out of tattooing, and have me focus all my energy on paperwork, advertisement, websites, etc.
It became second nature, but at the same time reminded me of the life I was missing around me. I did nothing but tattoo-related activities for year after year, worked seven days a week, and moved city-to-city based solely on trying to be closer to better artists. I worked in fifty shops! If I couldn’t figure out how to do a decent tattoo after all that, I figured I'd just go back to being a musician.
Q) Who was Brandon Bond before he was the tattoo artist?
A) I was a musician. I played guitar, keyboards, pianos, drums, and bass, anything that made noise. Tattooing was an easier way to make money so honestly, it was my second choice and I have always regretted that decision in a way.
Q) When you started All or Nothing Tattoo, it was just you and a couple of other artists. Today you have eleven tattoo artists and a piercer. Why you think all this grew so fast?
A) Actually, we have a staff of over seventy people including web guys, graphics guys etc. It grew as fast as it did because we are a family and we take care of each other. We are successful and that only attracts more successful and awesome people - my crew is my life and I love every single f@#king one of them.
Q) All the artists in your shop have a particular style and an excellent quality. How did you manage to form this team and how you do find the balance among so many styles and personalities in one place?
A) They always come to us because we are known for doing great art and taking great care of our artists! It’s like tattoo Valhalla here: created by artists for artists. I have never solicited a single staff member - there is actually a waiting list.
Q) Then, a year ago, you had the need to create A.N.T.I. Art Elite. Why the urge to open another space?
A) I needed a private space to tattoo and focus on art - business had consumed my life completely, so I needed a place for my artists and I to focus strictly on artwork all day without interruption - and it is amazing!! The work is better, not to mention the waterfalls, movie theaters, etched glass, and total freedom! No restrictions! No distractions!
Q) You are promoting some companies that sell tattoo equipment and aftercare products like Hardnox clothing and H2Ocean. Is this part of the businessman that you are, or from your experience have thought that these companies have some good stuff to offer?
A) We were one of the first tattoo shops to actually be publicly sponsored, and I think its a great idea. I would never endorse a product that is not awesome! We are approached by companies daily and I am only sponsored by five companies; therefore, we are extremely selective - only the best - ‘todo o nada’ style ya know! I endorse Hardnox clothes because I wear them everyday and they get you sex. I endorse H2Ocean aftercare because it works incredibly well. I endorse Kingpin Tattoo Supply because they have great stuff and only sell to licensed tattoo artists.
Q) If you could make a wish today, what would it be?
A) To stop working right now - I’m dying. To produce this many projects, books, studios, movies, and artworks is killing me. I don’t even need the money anymore, but I can’t seem to find the motherf@#king off switch! I want a f@#king day off!! In fact, I want to be entirely done. I’ve been saving money - I’m almost there!
Q) Your marketing machine is impressive, probably the most ambitious I've seen. How much of it do you manage directly and how much do you delegate?
A) I manage it all directly, believe it or not.
Q) I've also noticed that you tend to do more to promote the artists who work for you than most folks. How much of that do you leave up to them and how much of it is part of the over promotional set up for the business?
A) I stay on everybody all the time to constantly push forward. I spend hundreds of hours working with each artist and their sites and their ads and their galleries, get their stuff uploaded for them all over, and make sure they are sending art to magazines because I want them to be successful and happy and awesome.
Q) How do you motivate them to put themselves out there?
A) I lead by example - I don’t ask them to do anything that I myself am not already doing times 100.
Q) My schedule is f*cked as it is. When I see someone like you generating so much energy towards their business and personal career, I wonder how in the hell they can manage it. How do you do it?
A) I’m barely pulling it off, and I’m exhausted and almost dead. For real - be careful what you wish for!
Q) Why did you name the documentary See You in H*LL?
A) Because the movie is about our family, artists, friends, clients, helpers, ole ladies, dogs, babies, you know, OUR family. In Empire Strikes Back, at the beginning, Luke is missing. Everyone seems to accept this except Han Solo, and when they tell Captain Solo not to go out into the freezing cold weather because his "ton-ton" will freeze before he reaches the first marker - he replies, "Well, I’ll see you in hell" and goes into the blizzard to save his friend. I felt as though that statement sums up my feelings for our family at All or Nothing Tattoo. And in risking his own life he saves Luke and kills his ton-ton. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to help one of my own. That’s one of the central principals of the film. And since my favorite movie (The Devils Rejects) was based on my second favorite movie (Empire Strikes Back), it only made sense for there to be references to both in my first movie.
Q) As can be witnessed on your recent DVD production, you like to go shooting and save stray pit bulls. Does all of this keep you sane from the everyday ups and downs of life?
A) My dogs are the best part of my life. Each was rescued in some form or another from a life of fighting and abuse, and they now are the most spoiled rotten, lazy, mellow and appreciative animals on the planet. We work hard still to find great homes for sheltered or rescued pit bulls, and it brings a lot of happiness and satisfaction to my life in a way that I can’t get out of the dark and stressed-out world of business.
Q) In your film, it seems as though your wife is an exact opposite of you. What does she think of your crazy interests and your work as a tattoo artist?
A) My wife knows nothing of my career, and is still not tattooed by me at all. She sees a different side of me than anyone else, and I think probably appreciates that. She does, however, tolerate my excessive workaholism, and understands that there are times when I have to disappear into a world of late night screaming and pirate ship captain-like behavior... she stays away from me when I’m in "work mode," which is probably smart. As to my interests with the gun stuff and all - she loves shooting and loves animals and pit bulls, so we share those interests and it brings us closer together. We are planning to open a non-profit pit bull rescue shelter together in the next 3 years.
Q) How does one reform oneself from a badly motivated slut tattooist into a capable, competent tattoo artist? What changed? What kind of sacrifices does that entail?
A) I came to a point where it was time to $h*t or get off the pot, ya know? I could have sustained forever being that guy, but it was an empty, unfulfilling and low income type gig, with no retirement. It was a dead end. I had a blast touring and doing guest spots and drunken conventions, but I could never hold a job for more than a year or so. I cleared my head, maintained total sobriety for a period of two years, and gave it everything I had in every way. Hence the studio name - it was either going to work or not, but it wasn’t going to fail based on a lack of effort. It was risky and it was all the money I had in the world sunk into countertops and flooring and every spare moment went into work - twenty-four hour days of nonstop focus seven days a week to the point of psychosis. It worked.
Q) What's the craziest late-night after-hours tattoo time you've ever experienced? And I don't mean like "fun party woohoo" crazy, I mean like "get me the f@#k out of here, what the hell is going on" crazy.
Mike Demassi, Mike Devries, Sean Herman, Dave Tedder, and I tattooed my apprentice Matt Dunlap at about 4 am-9am after we had spent all day tattooing and drinking heavily at the private studio. The video footage is not only disturbing but also bizarre and horrifying. We want to use it for SEE YOU IN H*LL Vol. 2, but are having trouble editing it into anything remotely politically correct in any way... it was amazing.
Q) Why do you look like the zombie that is in the basement in Return of the Living Dead Part One?
A) Because I’m a playa from the dirty dirty. And my penis is in fact huge.
Q) How has your early behavior affected your career, and how was it trying to turn your image around on a professional level?
A) It definitely makes it harder for my peers from back in the day to accept the success we have achieved. I spent many years being "that guy" and did a 180 on everybody with no warning, so people who knew me then and saw what happened spoke out and initially became our first "haters.” That led to a bandwagon of disparaging internet chat and forum commentary that thunders throughout the internet to this day. It used to bother me a lot, but now we just ignore it and push forward. I try to just keep my head up and not speak out about anyone or any shops, regardless of what they might be saying about ours.
Taking the high road, so to speak. To get in a pi$$ing match with the world is futile and time wasted. I try not to waste any time. I don’t have much of it.
Q) And since you're not quite done doing that, how is it to hold on to your own personality intact, while trying to keep customers satisfied and all that stuff? In other words, how do you handle the conflict between being balls deep in fun, and also appearing professional enough to not frighten away clients?
A) I separate my life in many degrees and levels. The public sees what we approve in film, or photos, or information, and my close friends see an entirely different side of me. My wife sees another entirely separate section of my reality, and so it seems I have spliced my life into sections. An existential crisis of sorts, but a lucrative, functional, and productive melting pot. I hate the "Brandon Bond" that was created by the media in our industry early on and it’s still frustrating that people believe all that. The bottom line is that I am who I need to be to generate interest and revenue on certain levels, but I never changed whom I am or sold out in any way. I have turned down multiple TV show offers to ensure that not be tainted. All of the books and films come out of my publishing company, so therefore are not tainted by mainstream influences. My book WHORE is not what would have been produced by a "normal" publishing house. Our film See You in H*LL is definitely not anything like what those reality TV producer-type snakes would have created out of us.
I am the same person, we just chopped up what people do and don’t see. I worked to get where I am and did it on my own terms, in my own way. I think many people see that and are disturbed because it reminds them of their own laziness or lack of focus. Many artists out there are much better than I am and are barely scraping by financially. I don’t want to be another 60+ year old tattooer. I will still tattoo, but only for fun. My personal life, my spiritual beliefs, my finances, my family are all distinctly intact and immediate; however, there is no reason to involve these realities in my business life.
Q) How do you reconcile your own beliefs with possibly offensive (to you personally) subject matter?
A) I am not emotionally involved in the imagery I create on a personal level. My involvement is purely aesthetic and artistic. I want to do the best possible piece regardless of meaning and rarely even discuss a piece’s relevance with my client. It’s the image itself I’m focused on, along with body placement, vibrancy, saturation, color palette, and longevity of the actual tattoo itself. Tattooing is very different from all other mediums of art in that regard. The piece is on someone, therefore you have to listen to them at least a little, at least while they are paying you. Hahahahaaa, then we can just make fun of them and count money.
All or Nothing Tattoo
2569 S. Cobb Dr.
Smyrna, Ga. 30080
Michael 'Genghis' Ray
MLB Players get tattooed at All or Nothing
Tattoo Convention Photos
All or Nothing Invades Europe
Mike Busey Visits
Around the Shop
Tattoos that say All or Nothing
THE GREAT PIT BALL
Shop Expansion Photos
Behind The Scenes
-VICKtory to the Underdog
Our Film Wins Film Fest Award
The Apprentice Corner
Atlanta Braves get tattooed at All or Nothing Tattoo
Brandon Bond returns to All or Nothing
Guest Artist Galleries
Filming of LA Ink with Kat Von D
AoN Studio Tour
Halloween Party '05
It's A Wild Ride '05
Past Party Pictures
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