Mike Boyd has spent his career crafting a signature and instantly recognisable style of tattooing, utilising bold line and colour in a manner which nods to modern art history, geometry and popular culture in one fell swoop.
As proficient with a paint brush as with a tattoo machine, Mike translates his keen eye for palettes and colour pairings from murals to skin and vice versa with flair and precision.
We spoke to Mike on his style, inspirations and expert way with colour.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to tattooing?
A: I started working the front desk of a tattoo studio in 2007 to help get some extra money while I was at uni and that developed into my apprenticeship at the beginning of 2009 and I did my first paid tattoo September 27th 2009. I remember it like it was yesterday - it was terrifying and amazing all at once. I always loved tattoos but never thought I’d be a tattooer though, it just kind of happened.
Q: There are frequent comparisons drawn between your work and that of cubist and abstract artists - where do you take your inspirations from?
A: I grew up in a house with a lot of artwork and it was always very abstract; my mum has a good eye for colour and does amazing quilts, so I was always around patterns and colour from a young age. When I started studying art history in school and saw the abstract and cubist movement in Europe I was instantly blown away. I loved the bold colours and complete abandonment of the classic way of painting and drawing. I admired the testicular fortitude those artists had to go against the grain and develop something new.
Q: Colour clearly plays such a huge part in both your murals and tattoos. Do you tend to approach a work with a colour palette in mind first or is that dictated by your design?
A: Turquoise, it has to have turquoise in it. No idea why, I’ve always been drawn to that colour. I usually use that as the base colour and go from there. Nine times out of ten there will be orange too - super bright orange as well, I like the impact of a bright orange. I can’t stand muted colours as it seems such a shame to dull such bold colours.
Q: Speaking of your mural work, your painterly skill is so apparent in your original works on both paper and walls - how long have you been painting and has it always been something you’ve wanted to make a focus of in your career?
A: In all honesty I’m not a fan of painting, it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I hadn’t picked up a paint brush for almost 8 years before the lockdown. I’m so terrified of making something rubbish it usually stops me from painting - which is strange as I don’t have that with any other medium. Luckily the guys at one of the shops I work in are avid painters and they really pushed me to paint again which I wouldn’t have done without them. So picking up a paint brush is a constant battle for me. Personally I think I’m a much better digital artist, I like how crisp and perfect digital artwork is.
Q: What does the remainder of 2021 have in store for you Mike?
A: Hopefully making cool shit that people can enjoy. I’d love to do more murals, an installation, more collabs with companies. I’ve been researching NFTs so I’d love to launch my first NFT before the year is out. I have a few guest spots around the country which I’m looking forward to as well. Always nice to get out of London and see old friends and do some cool tattoos. More merch as well would be good and hopefully not get locked down again.