All About Tattooers: Fandom Tattoo Artist Brandon Sommers

Courtesy of Brandon Sommers

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Welcome to the next installment of our series “All About Tattooers: Fandom Tattoo Artist.” Just like the previous installments of this series we’ll be bringing you a short interview with a pop culture tattoo artist. The tattoo artist we’ll be focusing on this time is Brandon Sommers. Because we’re a nerdy site, we’ll just be focusing on the “nerd” side of pop culture, thought that’s not the only things that Brandon does. Along with several general tattooing questions, we also delve a bit deeper into one of Brandon’s favorite pieces.

Courtesy of Brandon Sommers

Nerds and Beyond: How did you get into tattooing?

Brandon: I got into to tattooing because of a love for comic books. Growing up, I always wanted to be a comic book artist. I would constantly draw my own characters and ink comic book pencil pages of artists I looked up to. I think inking all those pages actually helped me transition into tattooing a little easier than some, as clean lines and contrast is very important in both fields. 

Nerds and Beyond: How would you describe your style?

Brandon: That depends. I love working on realism (portraits) because there is something about getting the tones and blends just right to get the desired effect. I also love when my customers ask me for a custom piece, usually with some pop culture influence. When drawing and tattooing my own work, I think I would say you can see a notable influence of western comic book illustration as well as a minor influence from Japanese manga, and the combination gives an illustrative/neotraditional vibe to it. 

Nerds and Beyond: For you personally, what’s the easiest area to tattoo?

Brandon: Forearms and lower legs by far. Once everything is set up, it’s very similar to how I would sit and draw. With proper planning and posture for client and myself, any area can be accessible.

Nerds and Beyond: Do you prefer to work with color or stick to black and white?

Brandon: You know, I started out black and grey, and I learned a lot regarding tones and values. I still love doing black and grey, especially portraits. However I almost entirely do color now.  As far as preference, I think it really comes down to the artwork that’s involved and the effect that the customer is trying to get. 

Nerds and Beyond: What do you feel are some pros and cons to each?

Brandon: Well again I think it depends on the desired effect. Black and grey has its place. It’s proven to stand the test of time, and you can get deep saturated blacks and give high contrast images their justice. Color is awesome, especially on fair skin, as the color just pops and is nice and vibrant.  

Nerds and Beyond: Do you enjoy first timers or veterans more?

Brandon: I think it’s great on both ends, because you’re able to break the stigma that sometimes comes with the industry. My shop’s name is Classic Ink and Tytan Comics. In the front of the house, we have a full-blown comic book store, and the tattooing is the back of the house. We’re always watching the latest pop culture movie and just having fun. I love seeing a first timer’s face when they first come in like “This is a tattoo shop?” We’ve been in business for about 12 years now and have a pretty large repeat clientele. So, when they bring in their friends for their first tattoo, it’s pretty fun. 

Nerds and Beyond: What’s been your longest session?

Brandon: On myself? I think maybe 5-6 hours. Longest session I worked on with a client was 13 hours. Obviously, we stopped for breaks and food here and there, but yeah that was long.

Nerds and Beyond: Was it long because of detail or size?

Brandon: Combination of the two. It was a full color, half sleeve with a combination of illustrative and realism styles. 

Nerds and Beyond: Is there a fandom in particular you do a lot of work for? For example Star Wars, Supernatural, etc.

Brandon: So…I also own the absolute best tattoo tour in the world, GeeksterInk. We have the best artists, and we travel to tattoo LIVE at comic cons on a global scale. Our artists have worked for Lucasfilm, DC, Marvel, WB [Warner Bros.], etc. It’s a great group of extremely talented and humble artists. Me, personally, I’d lean towards Marvel first and foremost, then animated Disney, with sci-fi after that. I also love Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, etc.

Nerds and Beyond: Is there any character you haven’t tattooed yet that you’d love to do?

Brandon: Oh man. So many. The world of pop culture is always growing. New comics and movies are always coming out. My favorite movie of all time though would be The Princess Bride. I’m still waiting to tattoo something in homage to the movie. 

Nerds and Beyond: Where can someone find you and your work? 

Brandon: There’s a lot. My social media handles are @brandonsommerstattoo on Instagram and Facebook.  You can usually find me at the shop, Classic Ink & Tytan Comics, in downtown Bradenton, FL. A quick google search will bring us up. As far as traveling, I am everywhere and anywhere with GeeksterInk. For convention dates and shows, go to www.GeeksterInk.com, and you can see our amazing artists as well as custom merchandise made by our artists. If you want the GeeksterInk crew and me to come to a comic convention near you, email your favorite comic conventions and let them know. Just make sure to “cc” us on the email so we can contact them and set everything up.

We asked Brandon to chose a favorite piece. Here’s what he had to say about it.

Nerds and Beyond: What about this piece makes it your favorite?

Brandon: It’s really hard to pick a favorite. Each tattoo has its own challenges and objectives. I’d probably say this Gambit piece is up there. Did this a few years back, but was my own art, my own style, and I think it came out pretty good. After that I think this Dali black and grey portrait would be next.

Nerds and Beyond: How did you come up with the design?

Brandon: Gambit I drew up as a flash piece just to draw. The customer wanted it and got it. Dali is a portrait, so not much designing there.

Nerds and Beyond: Can you tell us a little about your design process in general?

Brandon: Honestly I tend to draw things I like and hope someone will see it and get it. I do take on customer project pieces, but when I do I usually make sure there’s a few key items listed of needs and wants and the design part is up to me.

Nerds and Beyond: How does it vary piece to piece? (Reference photo versus a client description)

Brandon: Must have a reference photo for anything portrait/realism related. Period. I’m going to do everything I can to replicate that image. As far as other pieces, I usually ask for a very vague description and go from there. If a customer is looking for an exact copy of someone else’s work or has a very specific idea in their head of what they want, I’ll try to work with them and explain that this in an art form and everyone has their own interpretation of things. Sometimes it works, sometimes I have to pass on the tattoo.

Nerds and Beyond: How long did this particular piece take?

Brandon: Portraits always take considerably longer for me. Black and grey 5-6 hours, color maybe 8-10. Neotraditional/ illustrative pieces are usually much quicker. Not nearly the same amount of detail going into them.

That wraps up this installment of the series. Thanks so much to Brandon for taking part and sharing his experience and process. Stay tuned for the next part in this on-going series and make sure you check out the rest of Brandon’s work. If you’re ever in downtown Bradenton, FL, be sure to check out Brandon’s shop Classic Ink & Tytan Comics.

Rachel

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When I'm not working the night shift at a plastics factory, I can be found on the couch getting cuddles with my three furbabies.I love binge watching Netflix, chatting to friends or working on editing my photographs.

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