Clark North is a household name in the tattoo community. Over the last fifteen years or so, Clark has been profiled, quoted, and featured in such publications as Tattoo, Flash, Tattoos for Men, Savage, International Tattoo, and Tattoo Arts as well as featured and quoted in USA Today, The Travel Channel, and A&E's reality show Inked.
Clark got his start well over thirty years ago when he began doing his first tattoos on himself and friends as a teen. In his early days he was helped out by Mark Mahoney (then at "the rose" on the pike in Long Beach, California) and occasionally Mike Brown. Clark was tattooing illegitimately thru the '80s and did not legitimately enter the professional side of the business until he was sent to Rick Walters by Mark. From the early to mid '90s, Rick taught Clark to design, paint, and be a professional tattooer. Clark soaked up everything around him and was hired on by Kari Barba as a custom artist in her Anaheim shop called Outer Limits, where he worked from 1995 to 2004. His last two years with Kari Barba were spent planning, designing, setting up, and managing the Costa Mesa, California, side show-themed shop which opened in 2002. Since 2004 Clark has been in Las Vegas, Nevada, at Hart & Huntington for walk-ins and at Stay True Tattoo for custom tattooing appointments.
Clark North has mastered design, flow, concepts, composition, and form through drawing and painting for many years. He brings all his skill together prior to the final application in the skin for each custom tattoo he designs. The art form that Clark practices today is deeply connected to the history and style of early American tattooing. In recent years, Clark has been trying to honor one of the oldest forms of decorative tattooing, the Japanese tattoo. Large-scale full-body suits that were of one complete thought or mythological heroic story illustration were specifically in the realm of the Japanese. The imagery came primarily from Chinese literature introduced during the Tokugawa Shogunate and has its true beginning in late 19th century Japan. It has completely revolutionized the tattoo concepts of the modern western world much like Japanese calendar art causing the evolution of the impressionist and fauvist painters' movement in 19th century Europe. This so-called "Japanese-style" along with Clark's unique visionary symbols has led to his recent body of work. Clark has tried to tap the unconscious memory of all of the world's most powerful symbols and use them at the core of his work. Clark North's belief is clear: "It is important for the artist to find new ways to show the strongest and most repeated archetypal themes, as they are deeply linked to human psyche and will always be important to express the door to the soul."
Name: Clark North
First Started: As a kid drawing tattoos on self and friends
Fulltime Artist Since: Late 1980s
Mediums: Tattooing, painting, full-custom art
MT: Who do you look up to in the art world or who has influenced your work?
I have loved tattoos since I was 5 or 6, drawing them on myself was normal when I was little. I've just always loved them and still do! Heavily tattooed people were such an attraction to me that they influenced my art and life, even when friends and others chuckled at me. I think my favorite classic art to look at is by the loose style painters like Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso even though I don't do that style. I have studied the styles of tattooing by Paul Rogers, Bert Grimm, Bob Shaw, and Colonel Todd, and learned a lot by the way they tattooed. I think my favorite tattooers from Japan are the Horitoshi family and the Horiyoshi family. Horitoshi is much more complex and Horiyoshi is a more simple look that is visible from across the room; both are great to study and learn from. I love the way Mick Tattoo from Europe has loosened up the style of Japanese imagery as well. All in all my favorite artists are tattooers.