Artist Interview – David Corden
Realism artist David Corden will be attending The Tattoo Collective in February 2017. A relatively late bloomer to the industry, David’s interest in tattooing piqued after he received his first tattoo at thirty years old; four years later, he was offered an apprenticeship and the rest is history. Now the proud owner of his own studio, Edinburgh’s beautiful ‘Semper Tattoo’, David has firmly secured his spot as one of the best realism artists in the UK. This week, The Tattoo Collective caught up with David to find out more…
You received your first tattoo at thirty years old from Jim Gambell at Ritual Art Tattoo and embarked on an apprenticeship under his tutelage a few years later. Had you always harboured a desire to tattoo, or did your interest develop after going under the needle yourself?
Definitely after getting tattooed. I didn’t know you could do realism, I used to draw realism but before getting tattooed I didn’t even consider tattooing.
Do you feel that entering your apprenticeship slightly later in life helped or hindered the learning process?
It helped me have more respect for my client’s investment. Tattoos cost a lot of money and some people who have only ever earned a tattooist wage don’t have that understanding for how much people are paying for their work, and won’t think twice about cancelling or changing plans. I have such an appreciation for my clients and the time and money one has to put in to come and get tattooed by me.
Your work is very distinctive; how do you manage to put your own stamp on realism? What do you feel sets your work apart from other realism artists?
Personally, I don’t think I do have my own stamp, and it’s usually other people telling me I have a distinctive style, I don’t see it. That’s up for other people to decide. I just try to do a better tattoo each day.
What has been your favourite or most memorable tattoo to date?
I met my best mate doing the ‘Zombieland’ piece. We’ve been travelling the world doing conventions together ever since, so that would definitely be the most memorable tattoo I’ve done.
Can you tell us a little about your studio, Semper Tattoo? The shop looks incredible and is in such a fantastic location. How have you enjoyed the experience of being a studio owner so far?
It’s been awesome. I love owning my own studio. We have almost an extended family environment here. It doesn’t feel like I’m the employee and they are my employers – its more like we’re brothers and sisters. When we decide on new staff it’s a unanimous decision. If the dynamic of the studio shifts in any way, that means that the new people aren’t working and we really want everyone here to get along.
We also really aim to make all our clients feel welcome. It makes a big difference having a friendly face greet you and to be treated well. Sometimes people can feel anxious and nervous when they aren’t in a friendly space and that makes for a bad tattoo experience, so we really try to make people feel comfortable. Everyone who has been here loves Edinburgh. We are right next to Edinburgh Castle and face the Grassmarket so our clients have a beautiful view and get to stare out the window and watch the world happen.
The building is nearly 400 years old and used to be part of the King’s stables. As far as we been able to work out, it was actually the grain store to feed the King’s horses. We have a beautiful location, friendly and welcoming staff and happy clients, so I am loving it!
Lastly, how can customers book in with you for The Tattoo Collective?
I’m actually already fully booked. I got so many enquiries as soon as my name was announced to attend the convention, but for anyone travelling to Edinburgh, you can email my reception staff at firstname.lastname@example.org with any enquiries.
Interview by Jasmine Rollason for The Tattoo Collective