Michael "Pooch" Pucciarelli says he was raised "on a diet of Godzilla films, H.P. Lovecraft novels, and Walt Disney World." This multi-instrumental musician, fine artist, tattooer, and owner of West Palm's Altered State Tattoo is bringing what he calls a mix of "modern dark surrealism with traditional cultural components" to Green Room for the second installment of Art of Tattoo this Friday the Thirteenth.
Of his participation in Art of Tattoo, Pooch -- as he is most commonly referred to -- noted, "My friend [and Black Friday resident DJ] Linder asked me, and I love doing shows with other tattoo artists. It's inspiring and good to see that tattooists are taken seriously as artists."
Pooch has been tattooing for more than 16 years in the West Palm Beach area, opening Altered State in 2006. "I like a lot of different styles," he says. "I do a lot of large tattoos based on my paintings." These largely feature concepts evoke his dark, Day of the Dead symbolism, large biomechanical pieces, and traditional Japanese imagery, some of which will be on display at the Green Room event.
Pooch will show four recent creations that offer his take on the Hindu goddess of death, Kali Koaster; two demonic, outer-space-driven paintings from Pooch's exhibition at Capro Nason Gallery in Los Angeles, titled Second Skin; and Bio-Mick-Chanical. Of the last, Pooch says it "is an homage to the great master of biomechanics, HR Giger, combined with Mickey Mouse," which he tells us is "based on Giger's painting Necronom 4, the original inspiration for the creature in the movie Alien."
Like his artistic style, Pooch's tattoo portfolio reveals work out of an imagined science fiction novel-meets-mechanical guide to building a bionic extraterrestrial human-like droid. He's got an artist's eye with x-ray vision, seeing through the skin and transforming human muscle into intricate machinery, using bold outlines and colors to designate the hinges, bolts, and joints of human machinery. In fewer words, it's brilliant.
But don't get to thinking that Pooch has a one-track mind. Just as magically uncanny as his biomechanical artistry is, he is impressive when it comes to more traditional styles, saying, "I work in Florida, so the most important thing is that the tattoo holds up to the sun damage most people are exposed to," adding, "Outlines and black are superimportant.
"I like to approach these type of tattoos mostly in a Japanese or traditional style, as far as using outlines. But there are some [clients] that don't go in the sun too much, so I can do some more subtle, painterly style stuff.
"Impatience is one of the biggest misconceptions people have of tattoos," Pooch points out. "Some people think they will get a sleeve in one sitting; it's just not possible." Don't expect that good tattoos will be fast or cheap. It isn't realistic, and isn't something new tattoo collectors, or any for that matter, should seek. "If you just turned 18, don't get your neck and hands tattooed," Pooch sagely says. "Maybe start with something you can hide. Your 'homie tattin outta his crib' for a case of beer" is probably a coverup waiting to happen, "and a blood-borne disease to boot."
Pooch's advice may seem like common knowledge or come off as condescending but, as he says -- and which most credible artists and heavily tattooed folks will (hopefully) advise -- it's hard to get a job with visible tattoos. "Job killers" might be fun for the short term -- sure, your untattooed friends will think you're a friggin' badass, your Mom will probably want to kill or disown you, and you'll definitely scare the bejesus out of some nice old lady at Publix. However, Pooch's is valuable wisdom for tattoo n00bs. There are really, really good tattoo artists out there who respect a client enough to tell them when an idea is bogus or suggest that you sleep on your decision to get a chest-piece or a face tatt -- you'll thank them later, and your Mom will thank you.
Altered State Tattoo is located at 2402 N. Dixie Highway in Lake Worth. Call 561-585-4741. Art of Tattoo takes place at Green Room, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale, at Black Fridays at 10 p.m. Friday, July 13.
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