Up next in my series of interviews with people that I particularly respect within the sci-fi and horror genre is tattoo artist and writer, Dan Henk. Dan is respected worldwide as one of the finest horror and realist tattoo artists around and I’m honoured that he has taken the time out of a hectic schedule to answer these questions.
WS: So, who are you and how do you contribute towards the horror and sci-fi genre?
DH: I’m Dan Henk. I do everything from paintings, storyboards, writing, tattooing and secret assassinations for the CIA – but don’t tell anyone!
My paintings and writing almost always involve horror and I’ve been in quite a few galleries, 6 books and a slew of magazines. Tattoo-wise I do a slightly broader range of material, almost anything realistic (except religious stuff). however, I’m fairly well know in the tattoo community as a horror artist. I’ve been a featured tattoo artist in over 30 magazines and 5 books.
WS: What attracts you to the horror/ sci-fi genre?
DH: It’s the best genre going! Fuck that run of the mill “daily drama” shit!
Seriously, I think any good story and/or artwork needs a good sense of drama, suspense and other foundation elements but any story is better when you add an element of sci-fi or horror!
WS: You specialise in horror realism. Why do you think people like to get archetypal horror images tattooed on their bodies?
DH: They identify with the movies. The outcast, “anti-square-conformist world” implications of it. To them, and to me, the monsters are the heroes, they’re the stars that make the story worth telling.
WS: How much of your tattoo work is custom? How different is the process to creating a custom horror tattoo to reproducing an image from a film/ comic etc.?
DH: Well, everything I do, I draw up with my take on it. So it might be Travis Bickle or Jason Vorhees but it isn’t a dead ringer from a scene you will see in a movie. I often put my own slant on a customer’s idea to shift even the more serene or everyday material towards horror. After all, that is why they came to me. For example, I’m currently doing a Batman sleeve. I made the Batman more dark and aggressive and the Joker a zombie. I do portraits as well, again with a bit of a reinterpretation because; although there are plenty of straight forward portrait artists, people tend to come to me because they want something a bit darker.
WS: You’ve also written a sci-fi/ horror novel – tell us a little about that.
DH: After 5 years and way too many hurdles, I completed my first full length novel called By Demon’s Driven. The full title is taken from an Alan Moore quote, which says “Thus mollified she goes, harsh words forgiven, down highways in the dark, by demons driven”.
I’m pretty excited about it and have been pimping it out everywhere! It mainly centers around an antisocial loner who stumbles across an alien artifact. He ends up immersed in a sweeping, wild ride that involves everything from the fall of the US government to a revisitation by unfriendly aliens.
I painted a front and rear cover for the book and am currently working on 10 interior illustrations.
The novel is currently finished and edited. As I wait on feedback from a few publishers, I’ve also just written a short story “The Beauty of Ignorance”. Can’t keep away from the beast for too long!
WS: How important are conventions to your career?
DH: I do maybe 15 conventions a year. This year even more. This summer alone I went to Liverpool, Sheffield, Amsterdam, Breda (Netherlands), Belgium and Austria.
It gets my name out to the point where about 2/3 of my customers travel from other cities to see me. I’m sponsored by Eternal Ink – in fact I just made a set of zombie tattoo colors called the Living Dead Set, which they’ve added to their repertoire – and Emillion, a European machine maker, is building a Dan Henk version of his tattoo machine, featuring a backpiece incorporation – the Necronomicon symbol – and one of my paintings as the coil wrap.
None of this would be possible without the exposure of conventions which have enabled me to work by appointment only, in a room of my own with a full flat screen and DVD player that features a constant run of horror movies.
WS: Finally, what’s next for Dan Henk and how can people keep in touch with you?
DH: I have way too many projects right now! I’m constantly on the road and all my stops are up on my website (www.danhenk.com). I’m featured in three tattoo books that are due to be published soon: this includes one book on skull paintings and a book on the Monica Art show (Dan’s late wife – editor). Paul Acker and I are finishing up an 18 month calendar that hosts 19 of our paintings, smaller black and white horror drawings, the birthdates of horror movies icons and the premieres of classic movies. I’m working on a t-shirt for Eternal Tattoo, character design for an upcoming movie and a bi monthly full page comic strip in Tattoo Artist Magazine. Paul and I will be at the 2011 World Horror Convention (Austin, TX) and we’ll have everything from prints and our calendar to hopefully copies of my novel for sale there!
DH: Thanks for the interview Wayne, and see you in hell!
WS: Sounds good, mate. Save me a good pitch. Somewhere nice and warm 😀
For tattoo work or any other information on Dan – e-mail: email@example.com