Tattoo Artist Interview: George Bone
George Bone began tattooing at just sixteen years old. Opening his studio ‘George Bone Tattoos’ back in 1973, George has maintained his reputation for being one of the finest tattooers London has to offer, with his bold and colourful Japanese style. George’s studio is authentic and full of personality, with flash, artwork and macabre artefacts collected or crafted by George over the years adorning every inch of the space.
This week, The Tattoo Collective caught up with George to discover more…
Can you recall the first time you became interested in tattooing? What led you to pick up a machine and start your tattoo career?
The very first time I became interested in the art of tattooing was when I was about fourteen years old. My mother used to buy a magazine called Titbits which ran a feature on Japanese tattooing and I found it amazing, and that’s where it all started. I said to my mother, ‘when I’m forty years old I’m having a tattoo done’! I did not wait quite that long…
Who did you get tattooed by when you were starting out, and which artists had the biggest influence on you at the time?
I got my first tattoo at fifteen years old by Prof Cash Cooper in Piccadilly Circus London. Then I got more by Prof Jack Zeek and Rich Mingins, they were my biggest influence at the time, and it was then that I knew I wanted to do tattooing. My father made me a tattoo bench at home, and I was tattooing from home at the age of sixteen.
You opened your studio in 1973, making it one of London’s first and longest-running tattoo shops. What was the landscape of tattooing like at this time? How does it compare to London’s tattoo scene today?
I first opened my studio with my wife Patricia in September 1973 on Boston Road, Hanwell, London. Back then tattooing had a more mysterious feel about it, all the tattoo studios were filled solid with designs and artefacts, where today they’ve become more like high street shops – the mystery has sadly been lost.
What initially drew you to Japanese tattoos and when did you start to focus on this style?
My love for Japanese style tattooing started with that magazine article back in the day. I was doing a lot in the eighties and then on and off for a time, but now most of my work is Japanese inspired.
Which artists do you admire today?
Which artists do I admire today – too many to mention, but the first that come to mind are Horiyoshi 3 and Filip Leu.
What do you predict for the future of tattooing?
The future of tattooing is probably more and more tattoo shops, but who knows… or as John Lydon might say, ‘No Future’, ha ha!