Making his mark through art

Sam Clayton, 27, has been a tattoo artist for five years and is the owner of Henderson's Ink Rush Tattoos.

Ink Rush Tattoos owner and tattoo artist Sam Clayton.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Ink Rush Tattoos owner and tattoo artist Sam Clayton.

What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?

Just the art and the passion of bringing art onto skin. Meeting new people every single day, getting along with clients and opening people's eyes to different styles. Waking up everyday just loving what you do, not complaining about about not having a day off. I love it.

Why did you open up your own shop?

Sam Clayton says roses and skulls are always popular tattoos.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Sam Clayton says roses and skulls are always popular tattoos.

Just so I didn't have anyone breathing down my neck. Also to be able to be more independent and more career-driven. With any business, you start from the bottom and work your way up. So I think just giving myself more risk, pressure and more focus on success is what I was after.

Did you have experience with running a business?

Nothing at all. I'm a self-taught tattoo artist and first time business-owner. But to me, if you want it hard enough, you will get it. Just have a smile on your face and take every day as it comes. If there's opportunities, jump on them. Every day is a learning curve, there is always bigger and better people out there so if you get an opportunity to learn from anyone, just take it on board and ride with it.

Sam Clayton tattooing a client's forearm.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Sam Clayton tattooing a client's forearm.

Was it hard to get clients at the start?

Definitely. I was working seven-days-a-week for about two years losing money. But with anything, it doesn't come easy. It was definitely hard at the start but just keep humble and do your thing. If I didn't have any work on I would just be here drawing and putting up pictures [online] asking if anyone wanted it done. But it has made me who I am today and if you can get through the hard times, everything else is a bit of a breeze.

What do you like about working in west Auckland?

Sam Clayton is self-taught and has tattooed for five years.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Sam Clayton is self-taught and has tattooed for five years.

How cruisy people are. I was born and raised on the shore so there is a different stigma out here. The majority of people are tattooed and people just greet you with open arms. People come up and they just love a good laugh and it's just not so uptight. That's what I like about it.

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Describe a typical day for you.

Concentration, laughter - the majority of it. Just good music, good banter. It's like hanging out with friends every day. Every day is like a day off to me.

Ink Rush Tattoos is located at 368 Great North Rd in Henderson.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Ink Rush Tattoos is located at 368 Great North Rd in Henderson.

Has the stigma that surrounds tattoos changed in west Auckland since you opened?

Ever since I opened up here, it's always been quite good. I just went through a stage where I tried opening a second shop on the North Shore, going through the right guidelines. We were actually objected from other surrounding businesses just because they didn't want a tattoo studio in the area thinking there would be drugs. They looked at it completely the wrong way and it's sad to see in 2017, people still have that idea and stigma against tattoo artists. It doesn't matter what you look like, I don't have any facial tattoos or neck tattoos, and I can cover up and they still thought of it in that sort of sense. Definitely being out west it's more accepted. But to be honest, in 2017, I think it should be accepted in any kind of way. At the end of the day, its just an art form on skin, not on paper.

What do you like most about your job?

Just living in a creative world everyday. You are in a work space where you're just with art and creativity. Clients as well. You're just sitting down, laughing, you build such a friendship as well. Your art is on someone for the rest of their life so you are kind of part of their journey. 

What is your favourite style to tattoo?

Definitely photorealism. Capturing real life photos on skin. The depths, the detail, shadows, tones. That's definitely more of a wow factor for me.

Do you notice any tattoo trends that are specific to west Aucklanders?

A lot of people are wanting writing. Portraits too. A lot of people out west like to have portraits of loved ones, pets as well.

What is your favourite tattoo you have tattooed on someone else?

I'd probably say the big geometric sleeve I did. That was a really fun one on a friend of mine. Pretty much any tattoo when you have a bit of creativity is always fun.

 - Stuff

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