Interview By CIV
Mike Rubendall: You have one shot to make it right. For me the permanence of a tattoo was a heavy thing and I wanted to make a smart decision. I remember as a kid looking through magazines I’d always admired Filip’s work, it always had a tremendous impact on me. I saw what could be done with tattooing and, first and foremost, I wanted to go out there and see what he did different from what everyone else was doing to get the results he was getting, you know?
That was a big part of the reason why I had him do my arms, because I wanted to watch him; I wanted to see it done right. However, at the time I think it was too early in my career to pick up what he was throwing down. I could have soaked up more knowledge if I had waited to make that trip later in my career. Well, who really knows how things would have turned out? I do know it still gave me a whole different mentality and perspective on tattooing…
CIV: Yeah. Watching Filip is not like watching other people tattoo.
MR: Exactly. It was brilliant to see. He has the ability to make the client who’s wearing the tattoo look like they were born with it.
CIV: When you get to sit and watch somebody tattoo for that long, or get tattooed by somebody like Trevino, all the hours you spent with Trevino, or all the hours you spent with Filip—was there something else imparted? Like the work ethic that those guys have? Just the straight warrior shit that those guys do? And do you take that on? When you’re sitting with them for that long, do you discuss a burnout factor from working that hard?
MR: No, I don’t believe in burnout. I think you can work through burnout periods. I think we all share a common factor; we create this out of love, not for money, or fame—well, I’ll speak for myself. And the constant, deliberate practice of tattooing everyday, it pays off. I have adopted a weird belief system. I don’t believe in failure, or burnout. I just feel like you can program your brain to do anything. Your brain is like a computer. If you think you’re going to burnout, you’re absolutely right- you’re going to burnout…
CIV: Yeah, like Trevino can sit and tattoo for 12 hours straight.
MR: Yeah, exactly. That guy’s a machine.
CIV: So you think it’s a state of mind?
MR: Yes, I think it’s 100 percent a state of mind. Absolutely.
CIV: I like that. It’s a good concept. Kind of touching on the same thing, you were talking about doing it for so many years, and what you put into it is what you get back, so when did you start to feel like, “Okay, I don’t suck anymore?”
MR: I think it’s a 10-year marker. I feel like you can never be content with your work at any point of your career, and you can always grow, but I felt at 10 years, that’s when I was finally getting the hang of it. I felt confidant in what I was doing and started coming into my own.
(Mike Rubendall can be found at Kings Avenue Tattoo in New York City.)
Mike Rubendall is featured in Tattoo Artist Magazine issue #28.