I stumbled upon the work of artist Paul Talbot quite by accident. A company that I follow on instagram called @stencilforte featured a piece of Paul’s titled “Ashes to Ashes.”

Not only was the subject matter dear to my heart (you had me at Bowie) but the style of tattoo lit me up from the inside. The mix of print work and graphic imagery, and collage all seasoned with a fine-art flare struck me upside the head.. So what do I do when I find an artist like that? I fall down the Google-drain… Whoa. Did I ever.

His website describes his work as:

“Karma.punk collages on human skin. Trash Polka with an English Accent. Re-Examining Bits and Pieces of what’s been discarded in the haste of the late 20th century and sticking them together. Stills from a post-modern science-fiction movie set ten minutes in the future. Global slang for the common man. Technology: the myth and the religion of design or die. Talent borrows, genius steals. Hi-Tech piracy. Customised and collaged.”

I found this image:

You never really understood me, never really tried… #paultlbt

A post shared by KarmaPunk Tattoo Art (@paultlbt) on

And this one:

You can’t cross the sea merely by staring at the water… #paultlbt

A post shared by KarmaPunk Tattoo Art (@paultlbt) on

And this one:

A warrior in the time of women warriors… #paultlbt

A post shared by KarmaPunk Tattoo Art (@paultlbt) on

In a sea of black linework peonies and dotwork mandalas, Paul Talbot emerges with a fresh voice and clear vision. He is unapologetically himself and encourages others to do the same.

He speaks directly to the tattoo community via his Youtube Vlog.

The value of his message is not contained within the confines of the art and business of tattooing. The underlying theme of his work speaks to a far broader audience.  He gives us permission to do not wait for the stars to align.  If the road doesn’t exist, make your own.

Paul’s vlog episode titled “F8 and be there” lit my brain on fire.  It reminds me of a @glennondoyle interview I heard that talked about how we let technical skill get in the way of making all the things. My capacity for creativity will blow my ability out of the water every time. When I say that I can’t do something because I don’t have the skill, what I am really saying is that I am choosing fear of fucking-it-up over my drive to do the thing. That can’t be the thing that stops me from seeing it through.

It has been a while since an artist’s work has kicked me in the chest and stole my breath. It is a gift to have a visceral reaction to an idea that cultivated in someone’s head and was brought to life by an artist’s time and skill.  Paul’s work stands testament  to the notion that we bring all of our life experience to the things we make and do. This includes musical influences, the first books that hooked us as readers, socioeconomic status, cultural community, exposure to art, and the lense in which we makes sense of  it all – our own creative nature.

To bring oneself wholly into the creation of something is a precious and vast opportunity. For both the people allowing themselves to be open and vulnerable  with their past and present and those that have the honor of standing witness. It doesn’t matter if the work doesn’t fit the mould of what other people are doing.  Hell, celebrate that. The spirit of creating cool shit is completely uninterested in conforming to bullshit rhetoric or fear of not fitting in.

Thanks Paul for reminding us to close our eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Tune out the conformist voices of derision.
And make the damn thing already.

You can find Paul’s work on his SiteFacebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, and of course Instagram.
It’s worth the click. I promise.
Now go do it.

Jerusha Gray

Jerusha Gray is insatiably curious. This curiosity, coupled with a brain that never shuts up, drives her to paint and draw, read prodigiously, make music, write, and sing in grocery stores.


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