Interview with Michael Clester - Studio 617
IR - How did you get involved in the tattoo industry?
Michael - I got involved in the tattoo industry at a young age, my father tattooed and I was always in the shop when he was there getting stencils put on me because I wanted to be as cool as my pops. My time tattooing didn't really start till I was 21-22 where I got an apprenticeship in my home town and it all blossomed from there really, I started in North Carolina and I'm ventured my way out here to Tennessee
IR - When we were hanging out, you mentioned that you began drawing at an early age. Having a father that tattooed, how did that influence you when you were learning to draw?
Michael - Yeah man at an early age I kind of found a passion for drawing, I think just like any other kid, I just loved doodling, my father wasn't around a whole lot being deployed in the armed service, but my mom said I always kind of entertained my self and drawing was that outlet that kept me busy, but I guess to more answer the question I never really thought about how it affected me because I never thought I'd be tattooing for a living, but I guess I'd say I definitely found a interest in it being around it in my younger years.
IR - That's awesome man. For someone that hasn't seen your work yet, how would you describe your style?
Michael - I would say it's an even mix of new school and traditional, bold images with a new school flair, everyone has a hard time describing it and always just says it's a style of its own, but you can tell I did it lol I have my own little trade marks I like to try and put in every tattoo so you know with out a doubt I did it
IR - I'd say that's a good description. Where do you find your inspiration for your art?
Michael - Cartoons, movies and anime, I love the use of vibrant colors and some of the color pallets cartoonist are using now a days, and looking at other artist work like, Timmy b, will Gonzalez, Taylor Cory and Marshall Sinclair are some dudes I look up too.
IR - I can definitely see those influences in your work. What's your favorite anime?
Michael - Right now I've been jamming to attack on Titan, Tokyo ghoul and mob psycho 100
IR - I know that Kitty at 617 is a big anime fan too. What's the best thing about your shop? You guys seem to have a good time.
Michael - Everyday is full of us being able to create art in a good environment, we defiantly have a good time there is never a dull moment here at 617. I think kris fords new convention banner pretty much sums up our shop perfectly
IR - Ha! I saw that! I'm looking forward to meeting him.. Seems like a terrific shop. Do you do work in any other mediums?
Michael - He's an awesome dude, and I've worked in earthenware clay, different paint mediums and mixed media stuff, my favorite right now are illustrations done in marker
IR - That's killer man! I've enjoyed seeing your illustrations lately. What is one of the most challenging things about being a tattoo artist?
Michael - The main challenge I face every day is that every clients skin is different it's never the same tattooing one person as it is another, also trying to do something creative for a client can be difficult with the images and things found on Pinterest, some people think that's the end all be all of tattoo related images which is kind of funny
IR - What has been your most meaningful accomplishment so far in tattooing?
Michael - Winning my first 3 awards, I was blown away, because when a client comes to you seeking out your work you know and so do they that you are going to give them a tattoo they will love, but having that work judged by your peers in the industry and they think it's cool enough to be awarded something is super awesome to me, I cried like a little girl because tattooing is my everything
IR - That's awesome man! To be able to be passionate about something like that, it's what it's all about man. What are your next goals that you want to accomplish?
Michael - My next goals are to travel and try to do more conventions and get my art and name out there more, I want to grow my collective of people who support what I do is my main goal
IR - That's a great perspective on things to have man! We wish you nothing but the best! I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. Where can people find you and your work online?
Michael - No problem man I always enjoy support my work can be found in Instagram at miketattoo617 or on like at studio617.com and Facebook studio 617