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Taking it to the Next Level with Evan Olin

illustration of tattoo artist Evan Olin

Dan Lorenzo: There are a ton of really great tattoo artists out there, and then there are artists on the next level. Do you know you're on that "next level"? Do you consider yourself one of the best in the game?

Evan Olin: [laughs] I don’t know... [laughs] I’m not sure how to answer that question without sounding like an asshole. [laughs] In all seriousness, I think I try to see my work as objectively as I can so I know kind of where I fit in, but at the same time I am incredibly critical of myself. There are many amazing artists out there who inspire me and push me to keep growing and working to get better. No matter what level my work is at, I feel like I always have room to improve.


How long did it take you to get great?

I have been tattooing for just about 16 years now. I was pretty terrible the first three [years] since I was not working in a shop and only doing a few tattoos a month without much guidance. Once I got into a real shop and was able to just tattoo more steadily, I saw my skills begin to slowly improve. I would say around the 5-year mark I was fairly competent. From there it’s just been a steady progression. As I said before, I’m always trying to learn and improve. I feel like I grow a little more with every tattoo, so honestly to get as good as I am right now, I would say it’s taken 16 years.

tattoo of Jake Gyllenhaal from the movie Southpaw

What's some advice for artists who are just starting out?

Find a good mentor who you trust, then just be a sponge and humble yourself to learn as much as you can. Don’t rush; learn and master the fundamentals before you try the fun stuff. Respect your clients; it’s a great honor that we are being trusted to mark their skin in a way they will live with for the rest of their lives, so never give anything but your absolute best.


Are there any technique tricks you keep "secret" to yourself? Be honest!

[laughs] Well if I have to be honest, then yes. [laughs] There are some things that I only share with close friends and those who pay to attend one of my seminars. Speaking of which, I am currently working on a series of recorded seminars, which I will hopefully have available by the end of the year for download.

tattoo of cosmic time and space lady portrait by Evan Olin

Do you think your tattoos would come out as good if you were using a brand of ink you had never tried before? Are they that different from each other?

There is definitely such a thing as cheap ink. I bought some when I first started out and was super broke. Thought I was gonna save a bunch of money, but wound up throwing it all out after the tattoos healed up super faded and dull. As far as the major brands [go], they are all quality, but there are small differences that really come down to personal preferences. I love Fusion Ink. I have a signature palette with them that I am very proud of and use for every tattoo I do.


Is there anything else about yourself you want to add?

Just that I love what I do. I’m super grateful to my clients and my industry that I get to make a really good living making art that I love. Thank you for the interview opportunity and thanks to the readers for checking out my work. If you enjoy what I do, please follow me on Instagram at @evanolintattoo. If you want to get tattooed, you can find me at my shop, PowerLine Tattoo in Cranston Rhode Island, or at a convention in a town near you.

tattoo of Doc Brown from Back to the Future by Evan Olin