Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview with an Artist- Tattoo artist Richard McGowen

Hello everyone!  I love all different kinds of art and thought it would be interesting to interview different kinds of artists.  This is my interview with Richard McGowen, a long-time friend of mine and a very talented artist.  I've been a fan of Rich's art for years and although we no longer live close to each other I can still remember great times spent hanging out and watching him create. 

Artist Richard McGowen at work
Hi Rich!  Introduce yourself to my readers...

- My name is Richard McGowen . I’m a 40 year old artist who lives in Tacoma, WA with my girlfriend, Brittainy. I’m the proud father of two beautiful girls. I was born in Tucson, AZ and graduated from HHS in Missouri. I attended community college and went on to The Kansas City Art Institute. I started tattooing in 2002 after a friend took a design I drew for him to get tattooed. His artist saw my work and asked him to introduce us, and I eventually apprenticed under him.

How would you describe your art style?

-I feel that my style covers a broad spectrum of art. I love to work in many different mediums and media, from wood carving to shoe designs and of course, tattoos. A lot of my early influence came from watching my older brother draw monsters and rat fink style pieces when we were younger. In tattoos I like to combine realism, cartoonism, and surrealism to acquire my own unique look.
Artist Richard McGowen at work

When did you first become interested in art, and what sparked your passion?

-My father was a construction worker and would always draw blue prints and building plans. He bought me my first art book that taught me some basic drawing techniques. As I mentioned, watching my older brother draw monsters inspired me as well as watching Saturday morning cartoons.

What is the most challenging thing about being a tattoo artist?

- The most challenging thing about tattoos is that it is generally a seasonal job, summer being the busiest time, and winter being the slower time. People love to get tattooed in the summer time, which is great for business. The most important thing to remember is that it is important to keep your fresh tattoo out of the sun and water. Winter is actually the best time for healing tattoos, but people generally don’t have money around the holidays.
One of Richard's tattoos

Describe your favorite art creation.

-A paper collage of medusa that I made out of all different tones of green paper to create an image. Another favorite piece is my drawing of the girl whose body is a tattoo machine, which I also have tattooed on my right arm.
Artwork by Richard McGowen

What part of the tattooing process is your favorite?

-I love meeting new people and sharing our love of art through tattoos. Having someone love your art enough to have it on them for life is a great feeling. The actual tattooing process is challenging and always different, but I enjoy that as well because I am always growing and learning as an artist.
Tattoo by Richard McGowen

Any tattoos you regret giving/getting?

-I never regret tattooing people, but I do get bored of tribal designs. They have no meaning (outside of the traditional culture) and are painstakingly mundane to fill in. I do remember one girl who got “crazy bitch” tattooed on her arm in a bold letter style. Despite trying to tell her she’d regret that, she was insistent. She left happy, but I wonder if she regrets it now.

Do you ever experience a creative block, and if so, how do you over come it?

-I get them sometimes, but they don’t really last long. I have a plethora of art that I’ve left dormant for awhile, so if I’m feeling blocked on one project, I can always finish one of those. If I can’t figure out what to draw I do light scribbles on paper until I see a picture, and then I draw that.
Tattoo by Richard McGowen

Do you sell you paintings and artwork any where?

-While I don’t have a specific location to sell my art, most of it is always for sale. I usually get commissioned to do a piece for a client, or sell direct. I’m in the process of getting prints as well as an ETSY page. I do have a face book with my art on it, as well as a paypal for those interested.

Besides art, what’s your greatest passion?

-My family and friends. I try to surround myself with positive people. My art is truly a reflection of my life and experiences. My moods always show through my designs.
Tattoo by Richard McGowen

Do you have any pets?

-Random, but yes.  We have two cats. One is a Viking tuxedo cat named Keke, and the other is a lil Siamese named Halliburton. Originally we were going to name her Bobo (after the old art test keke/bobo) but she has a lot of gray markings on her that look like oil. Since we got her the same time her oil spill happened, it seemed fitting.

Where can we find you and your artwork?

-You can reach me on facebook through my personal page (Rich McGowen), and you can view my tattoos on Ink Spot Tattoos face book. I would love to eventually have an entire website for my artwork.

Link to my album on the Ink Spot page:

Link to the Ink Spot page:

Link to my personal page:

Tattoo by Richard McGowen

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and share your artwork with my readers!  I appreciate it!

If you ever find yourself in Tacoma and want an awesome tattoo, look up my friend Richard at The Ink Spot.  He can take your ideas and dreams and come up with the perfect tattoo just for you.  Until next time...


  1. I would never have a tattoo myself but all I can say is WOW. This guy certainly has some talent. Those tattoos are just outstanding.

  2. It's nice to see someone admit that about tribals. They're not for everyone, yet everyone wants them even when there's no meaning or occasion to have them.