Pictures that get under the skin.

Scott Campbell translates stories into symbols.

He is a tattoo star and has left his artistic traces on the bodies of Sting, Orlando Bloom and Penelope Cruz. Scott not only transforms their stories into symbols. He also creates real works of art out of egg shells, bank notes and spray cans. He takes inspiring time off on his motorcycle.  

In school, he would carve skulls into the tables. He would scribble logos and emblems all over the jackets of his pals and schoolmates. Raised half an hour away from New Orleans, there wasn't much to do out in the country for Scott as a pupil. "Except riding dirt bikes and shooting air pistols. I was a little punk", Scott says about his childhood during a visit to his studio in Los Angeles.  

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The crème de la crème.

Scott transforms not only the stories of his customers into symbols and pictures; he also works with selected materials.

The crème de la crème.

He had no idea that he would one day be tattooing the crème de la crème of actors and artists. He has been in demand for years: to the stars, Scott is a star. His customers include Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom, Helena Christensen, and Penelope Cruz. Celebrities from the New York art and designer world such as model designer Marc Jacobs are also among his customer base. The late Australian actor Heath Ledger also went to Scott for tattoos. A friendship blossomed between the two.  

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The ABC of tattooing.

This is how it all began: Scott was already decorating tables at school. He is now a professional and highly esteemed tattoo artist.

The ABC of tattooing.

It all came from the craving to create tattoos. "I'm no good at most things but I can draw pictures", says the skin artist assertively. He gave up his intended career as a medical illustrator early on and abandoned his studies of biochemistry at the university of Texas. When he was about to become a professional in the artistic craft, he had only completed seven tattoos. Armed with photos of his first body paintings, he went to visit a small biker tattoo shop in San Francisco. 

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Iron will.

Tools of the trade: the tattooing machines are similar to old doorbells with two magnetic coils.

Iron will.

"I told them I'd been tattooing for a few years, but that I had foolishly lost my portfolio along with my luggage on a plane". Scott merely had the seven photos in his hands. Would the shop employees take his story at face value? "I don't think they really believed me". But they sensed that the young man was stubborn and had an iron will. "They gave me the night shift and I tattooed every drunken idiot who came in. This is how I learnt the ABC of tattooing".

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My first dirt bike was my key to the world.

Scott Campbell

For the skin artist, bikes and tattoos inevitably belong together. "Motorcycles are part of my life; I got my first dirt bike when I was eleven years old. This was my key to the world, because for the first time I was able to move faster than my short fat legs could carry me". Scott also met his wife on the motorcycle and tattooing scene. Back then, she had a job at a TV show. She and a few actors were to have a few fake tattoos. A job for Scott, who rode up on his bike. "She asked me about my helmet". As it turned out, her father was not only a racer, but he had also had the track in the New Jersey Motorsports Park built.  

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The lateral thinker.

"I have been involved with motorcycle clubs my whole life; I tattooed emblems on people or gave outdated skin pictures a cover", Scott recounts. He uses motorcycling as a means of taking a creative timeout. The artist is less interested in going for rides with a few mates. "When I sit atop a motorcycle, I want to be alone. It allows me to pursue my own thoughts for a while".

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After a short ride, he has to check his messages again.

Skull or butterfly.

The American got his first tattoo at the age of 15 – a nightmare for his mother. "I had 20 dollars and a fake ID on me when I entered the dirty biker shop Dragon Mike and Tagger John’s and asked what I could get for the money. I was given a choice between a skull and a butterfly. I would have probably got punched for the butterfly, so I went for the skull. I absolutely wanted a tattoo".  

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Studio with a view: Scott Campbell needs space for artistic exploration.

Translating stories into pictures.

By now, tattoos have long since become socially acceptable. It might sound easy: Scott's customers usually get tattoos purely for aesthetic reasons. However, selecting the motif is a complex affair and is a very unique challenge for Scott: to do so, he has to listen very carefully to his customers and understand them. This is pure art.

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Tattooing somebody means reacting to them, listening to their story, translating it and finding the right pictures for it.

Scott Campbell

The new voice.

Scott thinks beyond the body jewellery about what he uses to make his art: spray cans, bank notes and egg shells. The "One" on a one-dollar bill for instance becomes "Lonely" or "Gone Fishin". Sometimes he turns the note upside down, which results in "Enough". "I work a lot with text. Words can be so powerful - it's fun to play with them". He loves lateral thinking. During a six-week creative visit to a Mexican high-security prison, he transformed everyday objects into works of art. Some of his pieces have already been displayed in exhibitions all over the world. Scott was the new voice on the New York art scene; in the district of Brooklyn, he still owns the legendary "Saved Tattoo" shop. However, he has since moved to Los Angeles. "More space for the family, more room for the art".

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The artist loves word plays and likes to work with text fragments.

R nineT Scrambler

Heritage

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