Texas native Aric Von is a man of many talents. With his sculpting and tattoo work Aric has been creating his own unique imagery since the age of 12. He can currently be found at Ink Attic Tattoo in Fort Worth, TX. When not working there he is usually busy producing works of art for both corporations and individuals. For more information please see: https://www.facebook.com/pages/StyroVisions-by-Aric-Von/150798871696127
What was it like growing up in Texas? What were you like as a kid?
Kind of hot and boring. The basics, go down to the creek, watch Star Wars at the cinema every single day of summer vacation. It was boring, but we did o.k. The Richland Hills Bunch, we were pretty good kids, except most of the ones that were supposed to be the over achievers are in prison or dead.
I was real shy. I don’t like crowds, didn’t like flashy lights, loud noises, clowns, and circuses I really didn’t care for none of that. I was pretty frail, thin. I got picked on a lot. I was like the shit magnet, you know if there was a bully within 35 yards he could smell me. But it builds character getting bullied. I’m the antibully now.
You first started sculpting and casting latex masks at the age of 12. What influenced you to try your hand at that at such an early age?
I was fascinated with drawing in three dimensions. It is what led me to cross the threshold from paper and I started to make things in 3d. Then I became interested in casting, making duplicates. Learning the proper ways of doing that, it was always like a new adventure, kind of like exploring. I’m still very addicted to it.
Well of course we didn’t really have the money to buy Halloween masks, and oddball stuff that you’d find in shops at that time. And my Granddad he wouldn’t go for that. Even if I did make one of those purchases, I would pay for it, getting told how many times I didn’t need it. So basically I learned how to make it and I couldn’t get in trouble for that. So that’s how it happened, I started making the props and Paw-paw couldn’t put together that I was buying all these separate materials and combining them making the projects. So I got away with it.
Who were some of your earliest influences?
Kevin Yagher, the special effects artist that did some of Robert Englund’s makeup. He’s a really, really cool special effects artist. David Whitley was local special effects artists who passed away, he was a big time inspiration. He was always such a positive person. He saw that I had a talent with the sculptures and instead of doing what a lot of people do, instead of stuffing it down, he really filled me up full of positive energy. I miss David Whitley, he has to be one of my main inspirations.
What do you enjoy most about sculpting?
That is hard to explain. There are certain things that are therapy for me while I’m sculpting. The sanding of it, the smoothing it down, being able to look at something and over a little bit of time recreating it out of nothing is pretty cool. Sometimes some of the sculptures I do are new to me as well as to the person who is purchasing them.
You became a tattoo artist at the age of 17 I believe? What was the very first thing you put to skin so to speak?
No not really. I started messing around with the ink thing because of my father at like 14 I believe, with his old, I called it “The Black Box of Death”. I would draw things on his club brothers and he would attempt to tattoo it. I learned everything not to do by example that way. I actually started tattooing at the age of 14, but professionally I got into a shop when I was 18 yrs old at Mild the Wild Tattoos on 28th Street. Me and Mild the Wild Mikey started that up. We had went to school together and were pretty good friends.
Honestly the first freehand or no stencil tattoo I did, I didn’t have any stencil paper, so what’s a guy going to do you know? You just draw, go freehand. But it in the long run it was a specialty. It was skull on my cousin Jerry Ray. I remember back then I could just tell it was going to work out.
What do you think it is that sets the professional tattoo artist aside from the rest?
Since I don’t know the rest,and some of the professionals that I know are fucking bad ass in the industry and are really shitty as people, I’m not really at liberty answer that. Just keep it clean. In being professional aside from the art aspect of it, the artist needs to know about blood born pathogens, cross contamination, what you’re touching, how you’re treating the skin while you are working on it. You got to try to be prepared to have all the answers. If someone asks you a question you don’t want to say, “I don’t know”.
Do you have a favorite tattoo?
No, no I don’t. On me? Actually, my daughter, on my chest, it’s a portrait that Jamie English did, El Watcho. He is a tattoo artist in Fort Worth, TX, he’s a friend. He did Brooke Ann’s portrait when she was lying in the crib and I’m quite fond of that. She checks for it periodically to make sure it’s still there(smiles). Safekeeping you know.
Does your daughter share your artistic talents?
It seeps from her. I don’t push it. I don’t tell her she has got to do this…If anything I’m a little mad at myself when she has learned by me working when she is around me, which is something I don’t really like to do a lot, but sometimes I have to. In watching she picks it up. She is 10 now and she can do a lot of things I can do. She’ll be able to do anything she wants I really think.
As a father what advice would you offer the women of tomorrow in regards to society and self image?
As far as women go, I’ve never figured them out. I just know that it is the old cliché, we always like what we can’t get or what we can’t have. Don’t be so easy.
What do you love most about being a father?
I like the fact of knowing that in the back of my little girl’s mind that she has me to lean on, and it’s there. It’s never going to go anywhere. She’ll grow up and she’ll leave me but I’ll never leave her. I like being able to not just say I’m always there, I just like being it. I like her to know. I don’t like to grand stand it for everybody to know. But she’ll tell you that Dad’s always going to be there, for the long haul.
What is your favorite medium to use in your work?
You know I have so many different ones. Sometimes I like the way a pencil feels on a cross grid on a certain type of paper. I’d like to say anything that is clean, but unfortunately that’s a step back, it all leaves a mess. Basically I love it all. I don’t have a favorite. As long as it is cool and workable and has a really good outcome. I’ve no favoritism I think everything is relative.
Do you have a favorite subject you most like work with?
I’m not one that likes violence, or mean looking people or dark alleys but it is like the world is attracted to that stuff. Ever since I was a young kid I’ve always been attracted to the surreal. Actually I was a scaredy cat so it is kind of strange I’ve always been attracted to the macabre and the dark. I just don’t sit around and draw monsters and demons…much. I like to do human stuff. I don’t have to distort it. I mean look at da Vinci’s Grotesque Series that he did. He just went around town looking at weirdos you know, distorting reality. That is what I’m attracted to. Not necessarily making a Six Flags character, just taking something that is already distorted and adding onto it.
You seem to be a bit of a Hank Williams fan. Why do you think that is?
I discovered him through my Grandmother Ravena Anne Cain, who introduced me to his music. I was raised up on Hee-Haw and old school Western Swing so that is where I got my influences there.
What projects are you currently working on?
I really don’t have anything major going on. Of course I’ve always got the allotted companies that ask for stuff. No real big projects lately. I’ve been working just doing custom stuff for individuals. Just private art at this point in time.
Do you have a dream project you’d most like to accomplish before you die?
Man, I’ve been thinking about it. It’s out there. It is. I think parts of it are probably floating around in someone else’s brain right now. Until we all get together and they need me to visualize it for them we’ll just have to wait…it is all a process. I am kind of like a medium.
What are your feelings on the afterlife and that sort of thing?
I know that death hurts. But I also know that death is really, really close to love. Just about the time you know that you really love somebody…they die, I feel. I’m not scared of death but you know I don’t like the pain that I’ve seen my family go through sometimes. I know we’re all going to die. The body wears out, we’re all going to go, but it takes a toll. Especially when you come from a loving family full of support.
How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes? If you could pick your last words what would you like them to be?
Well, as a positive person. Not that I was completely nuts but like there was some not craziness to me, that I was actually serious about something, which is my daughter and my career. That I never turned my back on my ink. You know, it is in my blood to do it and the sculptures too. I love that medium. I try to treat them equally, sometimes it’s hard to do it all.
Be careful how bright you shine when you’re young, cause you may spend the rest of your life trying to catch up with yourself.