BLOGS, 11 November 2011

Scott Campbell

New York artist Scott Campbell hails from humble ground. He grew up in a fishing village in suburban Louisiana with only mail order William S Burroughs novels for inspiration. Today, he leads the global tattoo renaissance from his Williamsburg base, while simultaneously moving further into the realms of high fashion (his designs were used by Louis Vuitton for some of its SS11 men’s collection) and visual art. “Coming to New York City, I found there were all these artists that I could relate to,” he says. “I love it here; there’s an energy, a mass of stimuli. You can sit still but still be moving.”

Prior to his career as a tattooist-cum-fine artist, Scott took a detour via biochemistry at the University of Texas. He dropped out due to a self-confessed attention deficit and relocated to San Francisco. There, he found a passion for tattooing, and the associated lifestyle that came with it: “I could sit around drawing all day, and travel as much as I wanted. I’d go anywhere I wished, constantly developing and recreating my identity.”

After a brief sojourn in Europe during his early 20s, Scott settled in Brooklyn in 2001 and opened a studio, Saved Tattoo. Through his craft, he became connected with the local art colony. Finding the confidence to break out from tattooing and into art wasn’t easy, but encouraged by artist friends and witnessing the respect and success they received, Scott slowly turned his hand from arm-work to artwork. He has since been exhibited all over the world, his tattoo-inspired pieces and sculptures from dollar bills provoking the most discussion: “What a fucking strong symbol money is; we have a primal connection to it.”

A strong symbol it may be, but despite fast-growing success and recognition in the art and fashion worlds (and his high profile relationship with Chloë Sevigny), Scott is so unconcerned with money, he once set fire to an entire exhibition’s worth of work. The Hunger spoke with Scott about this and more as he was winding down from preparing a solo show in Zurich.

Read the full interview in Issue One of The Hunger, on sale now.