Wow! What an unforgettable journey. Feels like just yesterday it was the first day of fall classes and now it’s December 9th. It’s crazy how fast time flies and how things progress. Coming into the final week of this course feels unbelievable. For the past week I been reflecting on this experience and all I’ve learned. I couldn’t have imagined I’d be writing blog posts and interviewing a MIAD Alum with similar interests as me. Truly enjoyed this class and the doors it opened!
At the beginning of the semester I was interested in writing about murals around Milwaukee. Especially since I had spent time in Scotland over the summer and seen so many buildings covered in amazing street art. Yet, at the same time I was also interested in writing about tattoo artist in Milwaukee. I definitely had a hard time making a decision. However once I did some research and understood what the series of articles was going to about. It made more sense to write about MIAD Alums in Milwaukee, who tattooed for a living.
I reached out to multiple tattoo artists who were MIAD Alums. Some said they would help but never came through. The only one who did come through and was more then happy to help was Adam Werther. Yo that was super cool that he made time for me!
I can’t help but think back, when I had first heard about Adam was in Duane Seidensticker office (executive director of advising and career services). This was a years ago while I was getting my resume looked over, Duane noticed I had a lot of background in tattooing and recommended I go visit Adam one day. And sure enough that day came sooner than I had planned.
I can honestly say I was nervous but excited at the same time. I came up with about 50 questions I thought would be perfect to ask Adam. Some had to do with his career as an artist today, some on his involvement in the community most recently, and some on his personal views at the moment.
The interview funny enough started with me showing Adam my sleeve of tattoos and leg piece. Then it led, to me showing him my portfolio and answering a couple questions he had for me. Almost felt like I was getting interviewed at first which surprised me but did make sense since I had told him I was very interested in tattooing after I graduate MIAD.
Finally it was my turn to do the interviewing and I had a list of questions ready for him. However I thought, I would have to asking him each one individually, one by one but the first question kinda led me branching off his answers or adding my own comments which then led into a different topic. It almost felt like we were going back and forth with each topic and we just added from there.
I could honestly relate to a lot of what Adam was saying about the current state of tattooing and how life as an artist could be a roller coaster. Through the good and the bad I learned that Adam still manages to be persistent with everything. Even when he fails, he keeps going and is always finding a way to move forward. It's been almost two decades and Adam still here doing what he loves. Which I think says a lot about him as a person and artist. Overall I found Adam to be very intellectual about art, tattoos, life, and himself.
Our interview almost took two hours and we’d probably would have kept talking but his appointment had arrived and I needed to get back to school. Which wasn’t a problem, I had more then enough content to use. All in all I had an amazing time interviewing Adam and hope one day we will cross paths again.
During the process of writing the final article, I had to transcribe the interview which took awhile. Then I had to take out all the key points, quotes, and turn that in to an article draft. This process was definitely challenging and took a lot time to piece together but overall I was thankful for the opportunity and happy it all worked out in the end.
When did tattooing start catching momentum for you?
Tattooing started picking up momentum with shows like Inked(2005-2006) and LA ink (2007-2011). I think that because I started tattooing before all these reality shows and the huge predominant movement of tattooing I was able to get a head start. And having five artist(names?) here at one point, we apexd out and were booked out. I mean, I never get booked crazy like big artists like years in advance. But we were booked solid, solid for like six months, everybody. (Now they all have their own tattoo shops?) And since then I been riding this wave.
How do you see the evaluation of tattooing today?
Right now there's so many tattoo parlors and so many tattoo artist. There's like multiple things happening right now, one a-lot of saturation happening but there's also a lot of really good work happening. To where I’m like wow, there's some pretty goo amazing artists that are out there. However this huge saturation had lead cliental to start spread out and slowly tapering off. When I first started tattooing there where only a few amazing artist moving the industry along, always stepping up what can be done but since all the reality shows, since all the shops, since all the artists and since all the good work, things started going down, down, down.
What some difference between you and other tattoo artist today?
When I first opened Adambomb Gallery, I was tattooing and kind of in that grove of the tattoo artists but now there are some really good tattoo artist around, and I ain't shit compared to them and they're in the same city. Where as before, it would be this one amazing in Chicago or in Minneapolis. I want to be as good as them. But here in this city and now, there's tattoo artist that would smoke me and they're just right next door.
Hows your tattoo shop doing overall today?
I’m somewhat in a holding pattern, flying in a circle. Waiting to see what life presents but also watching. At one point I put this building up for sale because I thought I had to and it didn't sell. So I made a choice and then I waited and then it didn't sell. And so I was like Ok and took it off the table. I’m going to step back and observe because there's probably something that I'm not doing first or something that needs to happen first before I do that. So I been pay attention to that. And that's a dance too. Are you are you being complacent or are you observing? How much interjection do I have to put in to make it not complacent?
Would you want to move somewhere else?
Yes, if I could sell my building (Adambomb Gallery) and open a really super low key shop in Madison which is not to far from where I live and work only a few days a week. We’ll see.
How do you deal with failures or (set backs) when things aren't working out your way?
In the face of failure, it just kept going. I remember in grade school, there was a time I would try and do something so hard. I’d get so frustrated and I would start crying. But I still persisted, even though I get so upset. I still kept going. Same thing with tattooing. Although right now I feel like I would benefit from refocusing on my strengths and developing those.
Have you been apart of any community events recently?
Just recently, I did the Feed Your Soul at Flux Design where they had live artists working on painting, drawing and then tattooing with me. For the first time I tried a completely different tattoo process. I've never done a tattoo without stencil or at least drew on somebody and then went from there. I didn't know what I was going to do. The person that was getting the tattoo didn't know what I was going to do. I just literally started scribbling on the person's lower, just scribbles. And it came out pretty amazing, It was a gold, squid, octopus thing.
Did Feed Your Soul inspired you?
Yes, Feed your Soul inspired me to start doing more stuff like that with tattooing and then having a progressive, sit down, scribble something out. It would be cool if I started one piece where nobody knew what was happening and get very excited and have an outline started and then have them come back and do the same process when it comes to shading or coloring. Just start scribbling, if I want to emphasize that I could or just leave it open. The drawing would talk to me as much as I would talk to it, a harmonious thing.
Any big projects coming up?
Right now, I have the opportunity to do an entire back piece on this woman, of two phoenix and maybe I could introduce my style of anthropomorphic creatures and ambient background. But It's so weird I got to try and get it to fit into two phoenix. So that's where it's strange, I could and probably should push that envelope and see.
Where are you right now with your art?
Right now I want to get back into making art for me. As a tattoo artist you're just focused on this one little area. No matter how large the tattoo is, your still just focused on this one little area. I’d like to get back into making my own pieces of art. If I could do that and find myself within that. I would love to just start doing art shows.
Where are you right now with your tattooing?
Im trying to get back into having more possession for tattooing and art. I felt like I lost it and now I want to get back and redefine that energy. Tattooing is hard, I’ve said this before it’s one of the hardest artistic medium any artist can embark on because there's no consistency or solid consistency from person to person.
Dose your clientele give you the freedom to apply your style into their ideas?
Right now I post everything whether it's a name or something crazy. So I think streamlining, my brand if you will, into more of stuff I want to do would perpetuate that. I would get cliental that wouldn’t want that type of work.
Do you think you work better independently or as a collective?
I mean it's good having other artists. I'm all about having other artists around and when I do have other artist here and we actually have interactions. It's a good thing. There’s a lot of idea bouncing and not just about tattooing necessary but other things too. It's this nice verbal interaction that you can take into consideration of someone else's ideas. I'm all about that.
Are you looking for new artist to work with?
I've tried Ive put it out there and nothing. I put it on Instagram like, hey, this is how much I charge a months, which is the extremely low amount every month and nobody, OK, I'm going to just fly around in circles for awhile. And see let's. Again I put it out there. At least three if not like five times. I put it out there like, hey, hey, everybody. This is what I'm offering. Cricket. Cricket. OK, I'll let that go, a couple months later. Hey, this offer still stands. Nothing. So it's like, OK, all right. Let's see what happens. Just going to fly in a circle. Fly in a circle. I’m I going to land?
Do you have any new artist doing guess spots at your shop?
Next week, I’ll be meeting up with another tattoo artist. Who wants to do a guess spot in December. Will see, I mean, I like this style. But with him it’ll be temporary because he's going to Florida. So we'll see. Again, I'll try it out. If it doesn’t work. I’ll just keep playing in the circle.
What do you think about the tattoo community?
Tattooing is one of the hardest mediums and because of that you can find within the tattooing community there is a lot of partying happening. This this could be because of all the challenges tattoo artist have face when dealing with people and needing an escape.
What did MIAD do for you that impacted or influenced your artistry or your life?
I think ultimately that gave you this opportunity to work with a huge group of people and bounce ideas off all these people. So I remember being at MIAD, getting more out of student to student interaction than student teacher interaction. Not to say that teacher weren’t impactive, they were. The most I got out of MIAD was collaboration with other students. Whether it be critiques or actual doing collaborative art work or just talking people like that. I think that the community of artists. Ultimately that was it.
In our last weeks class season (October 14th, 2019) all the students had the privilege of interviewing Jason McDowell (MIAD Alum, Illustration), creative director for On Milwaukee. During his presentation Jason talked about his experience at MIAD, life after graduating, exploring new jobs, how he started working for OnMilwaukee, writing articles, learning new art forms, portfolio work, and all his different job titles. Some of those jobs include Ad Designing, photography, web design, logo design, branding, creating emojis, icons, and many more. Aside from that Jason gave the class some advice on how we as students should take advantage of as many different classes MIAD has to offer because after graduation there could be many unique opportunities relating to previous classes. In addition he added this could serve as an advantage for future projects as well as valuable to future employers due to the knowledge obtained. Jason also told the class not to take grades so serious and find our passion even if it means sacrificing abit of school time to work on it. After hearing this I felt a sense of relief because even though I’m currently a student, I also been balancing school with my own passion and at times I had to sacrifice one or the other to move closer to my goals. The last bit of advice we got from Jason related to our own articles (for OnMilwaukee). Things to keep in mind were understand the message as well as your audience, have a strong title, apply humor/knowledge in your writing, and keep it informative. I had an easier time knowing which Milwaukee tattoo artist I wanted to interview/write about because either I’ve have met them in the pasted or been informed through MIAD professors. I figure the best way to contact the artist was though email and see if they would let me interview them in person. I would also like to video record the interview and edit it if possible.
Hey there, I’m Alejandro. I love creating art and being surrounded by it. All my life I’ve been an artist, starting with painting and drawing. My mother told me I should be a tattooer growing up. Since I was very drawn to art, I could make it a career. But I felt there were still things I needed to learn about myself as an artist. So I decided to go to MIAD to be exposed to everything about art. Throughout my college career, I’ve explored all kinds of mediums, but I’m still working towards finding my voice, my style, and also learning how talk about art and express myself. For the past couple of years, the type of art I’ve been attracted to has beed abstract, graffiti , realism, and fine art. But there are still things I want to keep exploring, like surrealism. I currently work as a barber and a tattoo artist. I’ve been barbering for 11 years and tattooing for 6. I want to become a successful full-time tattoo artist after I graduate. In the coming months I want to create concepts that could possibly become future tattoos for clients. This will work towards establishing my individual identity.
I struggle with writing, being bilingual - English is not my first language. I often need help from a teacher or tutor. I struggle with translating my thoughts to words on paper. I think writing is important, and I’d like to get better at it. My early memories involve writing poetry in elementary school. In middle school, I wrote lyrics for music, and in high school, I began to write a script for a movie. I currently would like my focus to be more on the art than the writing. But being that is not the case, I hope that this senior writing class will help me improve as a writer.
When I think about interpretation I think about painting, and how it can be communicating multiple different messages, feelings, and emotions. It can be expressed using color, gesture, and the like. Narrative also comes to mind - I like works that have narrative to them, allows me to look deeper into what the artist is trying to say. You can interpret and analyze anything, but I think it comes down to how something expresses itself or how it makes you feel.
For upcoming projects, I think I would like to focus on mural work throughout the Milwaukee community, as well as the story and context behind it. This past summer, I had the privilege of going to Glasgow, Scotland, where art is more accepted and public art is more common. I found this idea so fascinating, I want to model my final project for the course after what drew my attention in Glasgow. I want to continue exploring this idea with future projects this semester, as well as bringing foreign ideas back to the states.