Sleep When You're Dead

SWYD Tattoo & Barber shop is the brainchild of Mathew Pritchard, know for his years as a professional skateboarder and his on-screen pranks/stunts on the MTV hit series Dirty Sanchez, and more recently his series of long-distance triathlon races, endurance events and competitions. 

John Smith

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How did you get started and where did you work before SWYD ?

I didn't always want to be a tattoo artist, but after going from job to job I made a decision to do something for myself and make my own way which led me to doing what I do, I started off by doing some research and speaking to various artists about how I get into the industry and took things into my own hands! I worked in a small quiet shop in Cardiff as an apprentice before SWYD which was more of a stepping stone until I could find somewhere I was proud to represent! 

How would you describe what you do ?

I'd describe what I do as a lifestyle rather than a job. Waking up every day with a desire to be better and do better! As for my artwork I wouldn't say I specify in only one style but I do prefer to do soft black and grey realism over anything else, I have been playing around with colour lately too but as for now I'm just exploring every aspect and seeing where I go from there. 

What does your job entail ?

As a job I'd say being a tattoo artist isn't as kicked back as everyone seems to think, I have to make sure every single piece of work I produce is at its best quality and ensure to client is as happy with the tattoo as I am, I have to be good with people and understand what they want and be able to work with their ideas as well as keeping hygiene at its highest standards!

Explain your typical week..

No two weeks are the same, most of the time I'm doing full days but every now and then get days where I have a few smaller things to do throughout the day, which is always nice! The atmosphere and the team we have at the shop is bang on too so it's always a good place to be! I don't put my machines down at 6 and kick my feet up all night though as that's when designs get done! So it's pretty much non stop!

What do you like about what you do ?

I'd say my favourite thing about being an artist is the freedom of waking up and doing what I want, I've grown up surrounded by people who hate their job and if you're going to be doing it for the rest of your life why not find something you're happy doing? I meet and work with some awesome people and get to do some dope artwork for a living! What more could I ask for? 

How long have you been tattooing ?

I have only been tattooing for about 3 years so I'm pretty new to the scene compared to other guys, but I'm comfortable in what I do and it does feel like I've been doing it all my life! 

What advice would you give aspiring tattoo artists ?

For anyone aspiring to be a tattoo artist I'd say go for it, avoid calling yourself a 'mobile tattooist' or what ever these guys doing it from home go by these days as its a big hit to your rep before you're even started. Find yourself a proper apprenticeship in a decent shop under an artist who you respect and aspire to be like and stay dedicated! When I say find an artist who you're inspired by I mean don't get an apprenticeship with a bunch of dudes who only do soft black and grey if you're style is more full solid colour neo trad! And also understand that it takes a lot of patience to get anywhere so you won't be pulling off killer work in a matter of weeks but for anyone who is aspiring to be a tattoo artist and reads this I hope it helps! I'm a new guy myself but I'm always willing to have a chat with anyone and offer what ever I can to anyone who needs it!

Explain your setup...

When it comes down to the tools and inks I've always had my own personal preferences rather than looking what everybody else is using. I do tend to use rotary machines more than anything else lately but I do love my coils! As for my inks I've always been using silverback inks as I always preferred how their inks looked in the skin. Ive tried other stuff and I'm yet to find anything I get on with! Who knows what could change in the next year though. 

Who inspires you?

My biggest inspiration as an artist would be Jun Cha and a local artist called Dom who tattoos at his shop Raging Swan. Dom had pretty much the same start in tattooing as myself and if I can accomplish half of what he has in the time he's been working I'll be happy! As for Jun cha the man is unbelievable and has the dopest shop and work I've ever seen. If you want to check that out its called MONARC.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Who knows where I see myself in 5 years time, I didn't see myself here 3 years ago so I have no doubt the next 5 years will be crazy if the last 3 are anything to go by! For now I'm just keeping a positive attitude, a burning desire for what I want and where I want to be and I'm sticking to the plan to be the best artist I can possibly be!

©Sleep When You're Dead 2017