By Joy Surles
Skin Art Magazine
Love him or hate him, Brandon Bond is one of the hottest players on the tattoo scene today. The pater familias of two studios in Northwest Atlanta, All Or Nothing Tattoo and the newly opened private studio A.N.T.I. Art Elite, Brandon has recently expanded his rapidly growing art empire by opening Stranglehold Merchandise ( www.strangleholdmerch.com ), which offers a collection of books, shirts, tattoo chairs, original paintings, sketch books, framed prints, tattoo equipment, armrests, stickers, collaboration tables, and other high quality tattoo gear. His new book Whore is the first publication. He tells us, I wanted to make something that was real, something hard to read from an emotional perspective, and honest. The culmination of his two years work on the project is an art book unlike any other, and it shows us a side of the artist that we seldom see in his public persona.
The book is novel in its structure and composition. There are moments of stark clarity, particularly in the excerpts from interviews with Sean Herman and Coral Pollack, members of the All Or Nothing family. Other sections break apart from the narrative that begins to emerge in the interviews; there are flashes of stories from Bonds life with images of whores and fights, tattoos and money, guns and drugs. Some parts, especially as the book nears its conclusion, feel like compilations of memorable Brandon Bond quotes, revealing random thoughts on life, women, violence, art, and vulnerability. The movement from the coherent to the chaotic meshes with the artwork, which roams from line drawings to tattoos, photographs to computer graphics. The words and the art form a collage that works to convey the conflicted, passionate tone of the mind of the author.
In the excerpts from the Herman and Pollack interviews, Brandon shares more information about his personal life than ever before. While he admits to being a shameless self-promoter, the barrage of publicity focuses strictly on his work, and Whore is the first time we get a glimpse at the man behind the art. When asked about this intimate portrayal of his personal life, Brandon tells us, I have always kept my private life very private, and I feel like that was probably a good decision, but his endeavor to say something new in Whore led him finally to reveal what he calls the deeply personal and f@#ked up things we see in the book.
One of the most important relationships he describes in the book is his bond with his father. Brandon writes in Whore, I respect him more than anyone on Earth is direct, aggressive, wealthy, driven, focused, successful, intimidating, overbearing, loving, compassionate, and always on the move. These words could also describe the Brandon Bond we know today, but he writes, I was a loser, a stoner, an arrogant little f*** when I was a kid. Brandon credits his fathers intervention and influence with helping him to grow beyond his unruly youth, and the book portrays the process of maturity he passed through to become the motivated artist and businessman he is today.
In Whore, Brandon describes himself as a person who has always been either loved or loathed, saying, I stick out like a turd in a punchbowl. He says that much of the flack he has gotten comes from his barrage of publicity of his All Or Nothing family's work, but he justifies his media saturation as smart business, writing, If no one knows you're good, then what f*****g good is it?
While he is grateful for the comfortable lifestyle tattooing has given him, he describes his grueling schedule and his sick work ethic as becoming increasingly unbearable. Brandon mentions in Whore that he plans to retire soon: I worked hard, real f*****g hard for a really long time7 days a week for 14 hour days for over a decade. This year, for the first time he was able to fly somewhere without his tattoo equipment, and he was excited to be able to actually enjoy the food and do dumb s**t like snorkeling or cliff diving. He is still heavily involved in teaching his craft, both as a mentor to his All Or Nothing family and in his convention seminars, where he covers both artistic (image placement, body positioning, color palette, color blending, highlights, negative space, etc.) and business (how to get a client to agree to bigger work, building a custom portfolio, how to properly photograph an image, how to produce images that are publishable) aspects of tattooing.
When asked about the direction his artwork is heading now, Brandon is enthusiastic about his All Or Nothing staff. He says they have helped push me further artistically than I could have ever done on my own. Working with other motivated artists everyday to produce more dynamic and bold art keeps me in check. He describes the hours spent drawing, experimenting, discussing, arguing, suggesting, pushing, and creating with his staff as invaluable to his growth as an artist, and he credits them as being the reason why he still tattoos. Brandon says, I no longer have to tattoo from a financial perspective, and people ask me all the time why I still do it so often and so intensely. I tell them I want to be better, I want to grow, and so does my staff. Recently the All Or Nothing team has been experimenting in collaborative tattoos. He describes this new work, Tattooing with another artists favorite ink and machines or using different lighting and color in the imagery is like an all access pass into another artists secret creative process. I cannot explain the magic that happens to your vision by doing this with someone you can be yourself with. My work changes slightly with every artist I work with, and I can always see the reciprocal occurring in the other artists corresponding portfolios. Its like setting your creative gasoline on fire and drenching it in truckloads of gunpowder. The All Or Nothing family is fortunate to have clients who give them enormous freedom, which he says, allows for an incredible level of consistent experimentation and motivation.
Brandon describes his own growth as an artist, I use my own old photos every day. I think that's when an artist really begins the journey of finding his or her own voice. I stopped referencing other artists, and focused on my own work. I can tell by looking at any of my pieces what could have been better, and then I try to accomplish that the next time I attempt similar imagery. In the months before opening All Or Nothing, Brandon felt he was on the verge of a stylistic breakthrough, and the work he is producing today is the fruit of that time period. He describes the evolution of his style as a combination of realism with illustrative execution techniques. I wanted it to look like a painting based in realism, but a totally realistic piece is extremely boring visually. He wanted to develop a style that had life, color, vibrancy, and intensity images that jump off the skin and b1tc4 slap you, and this is the work he is knee-deep in right now. While these brilliant colored images mark a Brandon Bond tattoo, he emphasizes, We did not invent this. Eric Merrill, Albie Rock, Joe Bianco, Nick Baxter, and all the Darkside Tattoo crew were doing it back in the day. We are simply expanding on that style of color blending.
His style is continuing to evolve: I have recently discovered a new way to lay out my work so that it forms a more flowing total piece as opposed to a stagnant, flat execution. I am getting better at combining my style with the flow and positioning of the imagery on the body, to work with muscle movement and to really bring more depth to it all. He also comments on the lack of negative space in his large colorful pieces, Negative space on a color image is lazy. If you're going to do color something, why half-a** it? I color from line to line, or shape to shape. If there is a highlight, I put white, or yellow, or green, or blue, or something. We aren't in the 1950s, and I don't want my art to look like it came from then, either. We are trying to produce the 2025 type s**t at our studio, and I think that leaving no negative space is an important jump to brighter, bolder colors.
Brandon gives valuable advice to new artists who are interested in developing their own unique style, An artists portfolio should tell a story of either stagnation or growth. To look at your own work critically with an open mind and a few people you trust who share talent gives you a window into yourself stylistically, and if you steal from yourself enough times, your work begins to be recognizable and stylized.
In the fashion of the mad genius he is, Brandon closed our interview with a barrage of advice for our readers: Buy my book! Don't let anyone ever that you don't deserve the things you want. Don't do drugs. Carry a loaded gun and don't pull it out unless you plan to kill someone. Strippers are people too give em some money. Get a dog and take care of it. Make as much money as possible everyday. Have a lot of sex. Always know that resentment brings success. Stay focused. Don't be afraid to do exactly what you want, how you want. College is a huge waste of time and money, and so is sleep. Christmas is the best holiday. Don't breed. The world is a cold, dark place, and you're responsible for making your corner shine. No matter how much money you made yesterday, you start every day at zero. Being famous is dumb. Don't steal. Treat your family with respect. Stockpile all the ammunition you can get. Don't be lazy. Find what you want and take it because no one else will hand it to you. Don't take any s**t from anyone. Stop wasting your time reading this, and go produce something! And remember, if all else fails, you can always be a serial killer.
See more of Brandon's work at:
www.allornothingtattoo.com, www.antiartelite.com, and www.brandonbond.com .
All or Nothing Tattoo
2569 S. Cobb Dr.
Smyrna, Ga. 30080
Michael 'Genghis' Ray
MLB Players get tattooed at All or Nothing
Tattoo Convention Photos
All or Nothing Invades Europe
Mike Busey Visits
Around the Shop
Tattoos that say All or Nothing
THE GREAT PIT BALL
Shop Expansion Photos
Behind The Scenes
-VICKtory to the Underdog
Our Film Wins Film Fest Award
The Apprentice Corner
Atlanta Braves get tattooed at All or Nothing Tattoo
Brandon Bond returns to All or Nothing
Guest Artist Galleries
Filming of LA Ink with Kat Von D
AoN Studio Tour
Halloween Party '05
It's A Wild Ride '05
Past Party Pictures
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