Since 2006, Fun Fun Fun Fest has been nothing short of fun x 3. Every year, the music/art/food festival seems to turn it up a notch, so much, that last year I actually decided enough is enough and headed to Austin, TX, to check it out. The result, minus Danzig acting like a little bitch, was a killer weekend with friends fueled by amazing bands. In other words, I had fun. A ton of fun.
The festival was well organized, and all three days of music was well worth the $200 or so bucks I dropped on a wristband. By the want of the fest last year, I told myself and my friends I wanted to return the following year.
This year, the good people at FFF Fest have outdone themselves. Not only did they get RUN-DMC to reform, but they also had put together almost a dream lineup for this music lover. Refused, De La Soul, Seaweed, The Promise Ring, Bob Mould, Lucero, Lagwagon, Braid, OFF!, Against Me!, F’d Up, Superchunk, Minus The Bear…I can keep going…P.I.L., Explosions In The Sky, X, Turbonegro…
Seriously, check out all who will be playing this year:
This does not even include the FFFEST Nites, the nightly free (with wristband) concerts around the city.
I am planning on returning to Auditorium Shores in November to take in this festival. Since I have moved, I have not seen one live band due to a lack of venues, but this festival will make up for it. Not to mention Austin is one of my favorite cities and I am now only a 6 hour drive away…
Do you remember your first time? Think about it for a moment. Did it hurt? I know mine did for a moment. It was not excruciating or anything, but it was a new pain that I slowly found comfort in. I have returned to that feeling many a time since. I really do believe everyone should experience it at least once.
I am talking about tattoos of course. Many of us have them and many more appreciate them.
Whether you have 1 or 100, tattoos these days are becoming a more common trend and seen on people of all ages. I am not going to get into the ethics of tattoos or anything of that nature, I am just merely pointing out what tattoos have become. Forget the eyebrow ring piercing…tattoos are one of the more popular forms of socially acceptable self-expression on the human body.
I’ve interviewed all sort of people over the years for this site and others including musicians, artists, authors and once even a roller derby team. Having my own site has opened doors to so many interesting stories and events. I feel honored to have talked to so many people from all over the states.
I, until now, had never for whatever reason interviewed a tattoo artist and I honestly do not know what took me so long. I’ve chatted with Cleveland’s Derek Hess in the past and his art is on the flesh of thousands of fans, but not once did I ever sit down with a tattoo artist and just shoot the breeze and find out a little more about them than many may know.
If any of you have ever met me, you are probably aware that I have a huge appreciation for tattoos and have quite a few all over my body. I certainly plan on getting many more with visions of a full torso piece getting started this year. With such a love of permanent art, I realized that a few months ago that I should really try to incorporate something into this site about tattooing.
As luck would have it, one of my favorite people in Austin heard wind of my idea and shared with me a name of someone I should check out: Evan Lovett.
It was not hard to track Lovett down, thanks to the ever popular social networking, and after I saw his online portfolio, I realized that not only did I want to interview him, but I wanted him to tattoo me. His drawings and tattoos were more detailed than I was expecting and I was immediately intrigued to learn more about this guy, let alone get something done by him on me.
With him in Austin and myself in Akron though, I was not sure if that was going to happen anytime soon…until I realized I was going to Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin. I was sure he was going to be busy that weekend but I was mistaken and on day two of Fun Fun Fun Fest, Lovett texted me and told me to stop by the studio.
After hanging out for a little bit and checking out Lovett’s portfolio, he told me that he had some fun pieces he wanted to tattoo. I took this as an invitation for him to use my skin as his canvas and was quick to pick out something that he had previously drawn up. So, not only did I get to interview Lovett, but I also got tattooed by him. The experience was amazing. I enjoyed not only chatting with him, but also watching him work. His shading technique was unlike anyone else’s I had seen before and he basically was painting on me. Mixing inks and blending sections together.
The result was a great afternoon full of good conversation as well as an amazing tattoo.
How did you get into the tattoo business? Was it something you wanted to do all along or were you kind of just introduced to it by chance?
Growing up the son of a biker, I was always around tattoos and tattoo art, but the way i got into it was kind of strange. I was an artist from a young age always drawing and my dad basically handed me over to a tattoo artist that he knew to keep me out of trouble and I spent about everyday of my life in that shop from 15 to 18 years old.
Did you ever think you would ever be tattooing?
Before i stepped foot into that shop, no. But after my second day there ,the boss made me pick up a machine and outline a skull on his leg just to see if i had the balls. Well I did and after that I couldn’t think of doing anything else.
You are not as much of a tattoo artist as you are an artist that tattoos correct?
Yes, I agree with that. Not disrespecting any tattoo artist out there, but I feel to call myself a tattoo artist would be disrespecting the tradition and culture of the tattoo arts. I wasn’t introduced to tattooing in the traditional sense. The first shop I worked at, and in fact every shop I’ve worked at, have all been custom shops. Since I started so young, I was fortunate to attend art school while and after I started tattooing. I try to look at everything from a fine art perspective. regardless if its skin or canvas, although I have to admit I wish sometimes i could just tattoo!
I feel I take my tattooing too seriously and envy those tattoo artists with a sense of humor. In fact, I think the tattoo I did on you was the most light hearted tattooing I’ve done in a long time. (laughs)
I will admit, it was a lot of fun. So, which do you prefer more then, tattooing or drawing?
Drawing for sure. There is a lot less pressure in drawing. When it comes to tattooing, I try very hard to not think about the result and focus on the process. That is why I do my best to work out the drawing as much as possible before hand. The fact that I draw most of my tattoos directly on the skin before i tattoo is a bit strange for people, until I’m done. I have to make the drawing as detailed as possible so I end up drawing on people for hours sometimes. Luckily for me no one complains because when I’m done, I feel they have a better understanding of what the tattoo will look like and are a lot more comfortable with wearing it. Plus it’s fun!
When did you start doing this process of drawing on the skin over doing a stencil?
A few years ago, but only after I had the process worked out on paper first. A good friend and somewhat of a mentor of mine, Sean Zee, made me do a red pencil sketch for every tattoo i did. After that, [he] started making me do full color sketches with pencils. I did this for about a year with every tattoo I did. After a while, the tonal study was all I needed and I could replace colors in my head. That’s when the Sharpies came into play. They allowed me to create a fully rendered monochromatic drawing with a strong enough contrast quickly.
If I feel I still need to better understand something, I will still do a color study. You can never be too prepared. The better the understanding, the better the final piece will be whether it be a tattoo or painting of whatever.
Why a Sharpie though?
I like the shape of the fine point and the fact that they’re alcohol based.
So is there a process when drawing with Sharpies? Are there certain techniques you use when drawing with Sharpies over other drawing instruments? How many colors do you generally use?
The technique is harder to explain, but I basically blend out lighter colors with darker ones. I do this in layers until i get the result I want. i can use any colors, but I prefer to use primary ones: red, yellow and blue.
How long have you been drawing with Sharpies?
I’ve been drawing with them for a few years now, and it kind of just snowballed into kind of a style. It really is my favorite thing to draw with. The techniques I use originally were just experiments in order to open up some creative doors in my head, but after a while, I had so much fun and found them so versatile that i just stuck with it. With every shop, convention or guest spot I do, I find others fascinated by how far I can take it which is cool because hopefully by the time I leave, they have took it upon themselves to experiment and open some doors themselves.
That is kind of awesome and makes me want to go out and buy a pack of Sharpies… So have you reached out to Sharpie yet for a possible sponsorship? I think it is safe to say they are going to be impressed.
Working on it…
Tell me about growing up outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey.
I love that I grew up in that area, surrounded by everything from tree-filled suburbs to vast farm lands and the beach also being 15 minutes away from the city. I feel it’s made me very adaptable and well-rounded. Artistically, the east coast can be a little segregated at least in our industry. No one really talks to other people in shops, it’s very territorial. Regardless, I always tried to break that stereotype and befriended everyone. I hope it worked. (laughs) I was also introduced to some great graffiti artists. Some of New Jerseys finest in fact! But that’s something I’m not about to get in to.
No doubt, talking graffiti with you would be awesome but let’s stick to the tattoos – at least for now. What made you move from the east coast to Austin?
I’ve been visiting Texas to see family for as long as I can remember and it always seemed like the place i wanted to be. I remember my first solo trip out here, I think i was about 13 and I definitely stood out (laughs), but everyone was so nice and friendly. I was in a store with my aunt and people started asking me questions. Being from the big dirty, I was suspicious, but when i looked at her she assured me that they were just nice. [It] took me a while to learn to let my guard down a bit. (laughs) When it came time for me to finally make that move, I was lucky enough to have a few friends who already lived or moved out here, so it made my decision a little easier.
I have to say, living in Austin is a bit of a comfort. This is the only city I’ve ever been in where people don’t just assume I tattoo. I’m mean everyone is covered out here, and sometimes it’s nice to not stand out.
You still travel to Philly though monthly right? Do you find a lot of appointments for work waiting for you when you visit?
Yeah, I work at Art Machine Production in Philly one week every month. It started out as just a guest spot, a chance for me to finish up some work on my clients that I left behind. I guess with almost 8 years of clients there though, I was still in demand. So I talked to my buddy Tim Pangburn and we made it a regular permanent thing. I’m usually booked solid there which is a good change of pace to my more casual Austin work habits.
Let’s talk about your art. You had an exhibit going on in Austin that lasted 2 weekends last Fall. Care to talk about that for a moment?
Yes. Me and my studio-mate Nick Baxter participated in what they call E.A.S.T. or east Austin studio tour. It’s a two-week-long open house free to the public that allows anyone to come into our private studio and see our work, checkout what we have to offer, see some cool art and meet us. There are over 300 individual artists and studios involved, so it was good to feel a part of a creative community. But I think the coolest part of it was just seeing our work cover the walls of our studio. They were pretty bare until E.A.S.T. gave us a reason to change that. (laughs)
How was the overall response?
Really good. [We] had a lot of positive feedback. had a lot of tattoo folk come threw artists from shops and studios around the city come check us out, it was cool. [It’s] good for people to know; just because we’re a private studio, we’re not some big secret. We just like to work in a smaller more comfortable atmosphere and make cool art work.
This is the first time you sold prints of your work correct? How did that work out for you?
Not bad, it was a bit weird for me, but had a good response and [I] was encouraged to make more. My drawings seem to reproduce beautifully.
I’ll say. Do you think you will make some of these prints available to others maybe via the net?
Never thought about it before, but I don’t see why not. If someone likes my art enough to want it, the least I could do is get it to them.
[I] still don’t feel like I have a style that’s mine yet, but standing back and looking at everything I’ve done at the same time, I guess you can see something there. But either way, I don’t think I’ll ever perfect anything. [I] can only hope I die trying.
Your shading and detail is beyond amazing. How tough is it to take a piece you drew on paper and put it permanent on skin?
[It’s] way easier than taking something not perfected and putting it on skin. (laughs) But on a more serious note, there are limitations to both skin and paper and sometimes certain things can be pushed farther on one over the other. I always try to push further when someone is going to be wearing it. It’s only fair to them.
You’ve opted out the idea of owning a tattoo parlor and instead operate in a studio. When did you decided that you wanted to be more exclusive?
It’s something I’ve always wanted, once i started working on more of a serious clientele, but never pursued it till about a year ago. When asking the advice of my friend Nick on whether or not he thought I could do it, he told me he did and would be interested in collaborating on it with me. So, that sold me and here we are a year later.
The studio I work at in Philly is more open to the public, but has a private studio feel. We all work there by appointment only and do as we please working each in our own style on the things that interest us the most, so i have a good balance. Even if i did miss the atmosphere of a more street shop, I can and do often visit my friends at work all around the city, and it’s a honor to be welcomed in.
I am sure your work travels by word of mouth right? (In fact, when I was on South Congress the day before I flew home, a girl stopped me and asked me who did my piece.)
Well, since I’m am absolute shit at self-promotion, due to my shyness and anti-social behavior and anxieties, yea word of mouth has been the venue of chance for my carrier to spread. So, thank you to all of you out there who proudly wear my work and show it off.
Really, thank you! I am trying to have a working website this year! About time, I know…
Wrapping things up, what’s one important thing you learned in the past that you use daily when drawing or tattooing?
To slow my role! Make sure i know where I’m going with a piece before I start and that in a business that relies completely on the will of another person, that it never hurts to be nice.
What is your favorite thing to draw? How about favorite thing to draw on?
Well I don’t know why, but I really like drawing birds and nature in general with sharpies on skin. I like to paint with oil on board, and bic pen on diner place mats. (laughs)
You need to show me this place mat art one day. So, what’s next for Evan Lovett?
I think I’m gonna up my convention game in 2012 and try and hit as many as i can. Other than that, keep on making art as often as I can. I’d like also to simplify my life, although that’s what i say everyday, [it] never seems to happen.
Check out the following links for more information on Evan Lovett:
I have made arrangements with friends in Austin, TX and will be heading down there having absolutely no idea what to expect. SXSW has been something I have wanted to attend for years now and I could not be happier to finally be a part of it.
I have been to tons of concerts and festivals throughout the years, but can’t say that I have been to something quite like SXSW. I am looking forward to seeing as many bands (and maybe even movies) as possible in one of the, in my opinion, greatest cities in the world.
Within the last couple months a friendship was created between a guy in Ohio who likes to blog and a girl in TX who found his blog through Twitter. Small talk started and things slowly progressed to the point where phone conversations started. Music taste was shared as well as appreciation for literature, art, and history. It was clear that these two people had a lot in common.
Weeks later a plane ticket was purchased and TX invaded OH.
If you have not figured this out yet, I am OH and TX is my pal Jenn who I am more than thrilled to have started a friendship with. Last weekend she visited me and I thought I would re-cap some of the fun we had.
Friday was one of those work days I wanted to hit fast-forward on until the shift was over. It was a long day because in my mind I was trying to figure out all the things I wanted to show Jenn. As soon as 2:30 hit the clock I was out of the building and off to the Akron / Canton airport to pick up Jenn.
After the initial meeting he hopped on Route 8 and searched for something to eat. I immediately thought of an Akron staple and headed to Luigi’s Pizza where we caught up face to face and lunched on some great food. After lunch we headed to Highland Square as I wanted to show her one of my favorite Akron music stores, Square Records. We checked out some other shops in the area and decided to head back to my pad to hang out as Saturday was going to be a busy day.
Saturday was one of those days that I had been planning in advance for weeks upon hearing Jenn confirm she was going to visit OH. We started the day by heading out to Lakewood to eat an early lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Cleveland, Melt Bat & Grilled. I called the ever cool Matt from Addicted To Vinyl as he agreed to meet up with us to see if he was awake or passed out in a ditch somewhere. Surprisingly he was not only awake but waiting for us to arrive at Melt. He even put his name in for a table and stated we only had to wait 30 minutes!
I actually had something to take care of upon entering the Melt establishment that i had been meaning to do for quite some time. So the moment I walked in and was greeted I rolled up my sleeves looking for a staff member…and showed them my Melt tattoo.
Yes, a Melt tattoo.
Melt Bar & Grilled started a tattoo promotion recently where if a loyal fan of the establishment gets the Melt logo or a variance of it they will receive 25% off their sandwich, FOR LIFE. As a grilled cheese fanatic I could not pass this up so I had my tattoo artist Ronnie Castro tattoo the permanent coupon on my arm in November.
Now that I was standing there in Melt it was time to get into the gang of loyal grilled cheese lovers. After some appreciated compliments, photos, and the ever important “Tattoo Family Member” card I joined Matt and Jenn at a table for some grilled goodness.
Matt the trendsetter ordered a “Mighty Mac Melt”, the sandwich of the month and as a huge fan of mac & cheese I had to order the same. Jenn had to be a rebel and ordered an Italian grilled cheese. The three of us chatted so much that it seemed like only moments passed until we were served our sandwiches. That meal was a highlight of my year! No joke… My sandwich was a giant friend mac & cheese nugget snug in a grilled cheese. My arteries clogged and I only ate half (don’t worry I saved the rest for dinner, as did Jenn) but it was worth it.
After we stuffed ourselves silly Jenn and I said by to Matt and I decided to take Jenn to the park down the street to see the Cleveland skyline. I do not care how cold it is outside, there is something about the Cleveland skyline I think everyone needs to see from Lakewood Park. She really enjoyed it a lot as did I.
Once our fingers turned blue we decided to pack it up and head downtown. I drove up and down the streets and gave Jenn a mobile tour of one of my favorite cities. We really did not make any stops as I wanted to get to Collinwood before it started to get dark so Jenn could see Waterloo during the daylight.
After a couple of laps through the city we hopped back on the highway and headed out to the artsy district of Cleveland also known as Collinwood.
Stopping at Music Saves and Blue Arrow Records were on my agenda while out there but much to my surprise I was informed while at Music Saves that there was a Rock N Roll flea market going on at the Beachland Ballroom. With plenty of time we headed down there and checked out what was good. I really wanted to buy stuff there but money is tight these days on the BHP ranch so I was a good boy and looked with my eyes and kept the $1.27 I had in my wallet.
I plan on checking that out again one day when I have a couple bucks to spend. There was a guy there who’s name escapes me but he had this box full of CDs from local Cleveland bands of the 90’s. There were a few bands in there I remembered hearing about or even seeing live as a young music lover. If I had it my way I would have grabbed a bunch just for the memory. The guy said he had vinyl too but left it at home so I am hoping next time he is there. We shall see.
Merchants were starting to pack up so I headed down to see Pete at Blue Arrow Records to see what was good. I love that store and I had to show it off to Jenn. While there I flipped through endless vinyl and found a Pacific Gas & Electric LP I had been looking for so you could say I was excited.
As we headed back to good ol’ Akron, OH it started to snow ever so slightly. It was a nice end to a long day. Once home we just kicked it and geeked out (relaxed) for the duration of the evening.
Sunday morning I did my best to make a breakfast of sorts and was pleased with the outcome. I cubed up some potatoes and fried them up as well as made eggs and refried beans. I then fried up (with Jenn’s help) some corn tortillas and make tacos. The outcome was an OH take on a Tex-Mex staple breakfast meal and I was thrilled.
I scored major brownie points there. Speaking of brownies, the night before while we were geeking out I snuck in the kitchen and made brownies with chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Yeah, they were amazing. I pride myself on those.
Sunday morning I did not want to do much of anything but relax and Jenn was ok with that. Suddenly I came up with the great idea of taking the pups up to Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls to show Jenn the fun little area as well as the Cuyahoga River. While walking around she took tons of pictures and I just soaked in the beauty of the river and surroundings. I love having that place just down the street from me. The pups had fun dragging me all over the place.
Right before heading back home I noticed that the open light was on at Metropolis Popcorn so we picked up some snacks for afternoon football watching. I got my favorite Chicago style popcorn (cheddar mixed with caramel) and Jenn chose the dill popcorn. Both were amazing.
The rest of Sunday was chill and of course the Browns lost but at this time it does not bother me anymore. There is always next year – and a hopeful first round draft pick.
Monday was departure day. I know Jenn had fun because she thanked me multiple times throughout the morning. I thanked her as well for coming up. Not only was it a pleasure to have met her face to face but it was also awesome just to show her around Cleveland/Akron at the places I love. Had we more time I would have taken her to many more places but I think I did good with what was shown. Still, I wish I would have dropped by Cleveland Hts. and showed her Coventry. Oh well, next time right?
Jenn is back in TX and I am sure she left OH with a good idea of how fun our city is, well at least I hope she did. Upon exiting my car at the airport she reminded me that I was always welcome to visit her in TX and I hope to do that one day very soon.
Reason 576 why Austin, TX is a cool city… Fun Fun Fun Fest. I am jealous I was not there. Really jealous… Seriously look at this line up!
I’ve been to festivals that had good line ups in my time but it seems as if Fun Fun Fun Fest takes the cake. They have some special means of attracting some of the more obscure bands for a weekend of awesome and I only wish something like this could happen in my area.
I took a few moments tonight to look for some fan shot footage. Here is what I found: