ARTIST COLLABORATION: GERRY KRAMER OF TATTOO ZOO
As many of you know, here at Baggins we love celebrating our city and the people who live in it. After a few of our staff members gushed about their recent tattoo experiences at Tattoo Zoo, it was an easy choice to reach out and see if Gerry Kramer and his crew were interested in partnering up! With similar values, both personal and in business, we were ecstatic when they said yes!
Just in time for the holiday season we have launched the Tattoo Zoo collection! Over the next few weeks we will highlight each artist in their own blog feature. It only made sense to start things off with the man himself, Gerry Kramer. So buckle up and get ready to want to sss-lither into hisss sss-uper cusss-tom desss-ign!
Learn more about Gerry Kramer in our Q&A!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I started tattooing in the mid-90s, I had been hanging around a shop for a couple years when I finally got my 'shot' at it. I worked for my mentor for a couple years before I decided it would be best for me if I moved on. We had had a pretty big falling out, the work environment had become pretty toxic, and although I really loved tattooing it seemed like it just wasn't going to work out for me, so I gave my notice and packed up.
I was fully prepared to stop tattooing, but on the very day I left, I was called by the owner of Tattoo Zoo. She asked me to come in and help out over a busy weekend, and after that weekend she offered me a permanent spot. That was the in spring of 2000, and I've been a fixture at the shop ever since. In 2003 I purchased the shop from the owner at the time, and I've spent the last 15 years creating an all-inclusive space where anybody and anyone will feel comfortable. We LOVE tattooing you.
Can you tell us a little about how you found your signature style?
My signature 'style' just grew out of the work I was being asked to do. Over the years I've learned what works for me from design to application, and especially what I can do to bring a client's idea to life, while still maintaining the integrity of the tattoos aging process. Survivability is very important to my design, and it's something I've always taken pretty seriously.
What is your favourite thing about tattooing?
I love everything about tattooing. From the moment I meet someone new in the front of the shop, to the end of the actual tattoo process. One of my favourite things to do is covering up poorly done or unwanted tattoos. There's just something so uniquely challenging to each and every one of those projects, and the end result is always such a joyful occasion for all of us! It definitely makes me feel really good about the work I do.
Converse, Dr. Martens or Vans- what’s your go to shoe?
Always Vans slip-ons. I feel like they are the only socially acceptable slipper to wear outside. :)
What is your favourite thing to do in Victoria?
Almost all of my favourite things to do in Victoria involve leaving the actual city. But motorcycling in and around the city (mostly the woods!) is hands down my favourite thing to do.
What are you currently watching on Netﬂix?
We recently completed a marathon of all 10 seasons of Friends. It was nice, I miss those guys. Except Ross. Man… that guy was a dick.
How did you start creating art? Why do you make art?
I've been drawing since I was a wee boy. It's only very recently that I've come to terms with the fact that I'm an artist, I've always been pretty apprehensive about using the term. When I learned to tattoo, I was taught that there was a very big difference between a 'tattooer' and an 'artist'. Honestly, it took me a long time to figure out my place in between the two, but now that I have, it makes designing tattoos much more liberating. I make art because I'm really interested in the process. I'm almost never happy with any art I create outside of tattooing, but I am always satisfied with the steps I take.
Can you tell us about the space where you create?
I do almost all of my creative work in the shop. I've always felt that it's important to keep a good work/life balance, and as much as I love my job, I try very hard to keep my home-life separate.
Do you have a favourite tattoo on your body?
I have a couple favourite tattoos on my body, but they all have the same thread running through them, in that they were done by my wife. I have a tiny heart with the number 13 in it that she did on our 13th wedding anniversary, and a goofy eyeball she did last summer. They aren't applied perfectly, but I don't think every tattoo needs to be technically flawless to have loads of meaning.
Can you talk us through your customised Baggins Original?
I approached the project as though I was designing a tattoo to fit a specific shape. I chose a snake and a peony because I've always loved the two elements in tattoos, and I think that they go so well together. Also, snakes are awesome.
What advice would you want to tell artists breaking into “scene”?
I get asked almost weekly to take on an apprentice. 9 times out of ten the person asking is emailing or direct messaging me, and is a complete stranger to me. I've never understood this. If tattooing is something you love, and you think that I am the person that should teach you, come in and get tattooed. A lot. When we have become acquainted, then let's have that conversation.
Any book/movie/podcast/etc recommendations?
I will always recommend that everyone read Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Hands down my favourite series of books every written. I read them through once every couple of years.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I'd like to be remembered for being a kind and fair boss, and as a solid, trustworthy tattooer. I take both those roles very seriously, and I try to do them to the best of my abilities.
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Tattoo Zoo LOVES tattooing you!
Tattoo Zoo has been providing a welcoming atmosphere for all walks of life since 1994. Nestled in the heart of Downtown Victoria, you can find Gerry Kramer and his team of creatives just outside the Fabulous Fort neighbourhood, at 826 Fort Street. Tattoo Zoo has built a reputation as a leading tattoo studio in the city for providing the highest quality body-art in a variety of styles. Whether you're in need of a cover-up, a bold pop of colour, a beautiful black and grey piece or something more traditional, Tattoo Zoo is the place for you. If you haven't check them out before, do yourself a favour and stop in to say hello! One thing is for sure, Gerry Kramer and the folks at Tattoo Zoo love tattooing you!
Learn even more about about Gerry Kramer and Tattoo Zoo by visiting their website or checking out their IG feed! If you're in the neighbourhood, we suggest popping by the shop! You might even get to meet Gerry's other half, Sarah Superstar and their insta-famous pup, Walter. Stay tuned for more Tattoo Zoo greatness coming your way in a flash!
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