Q+A: Tracy Campbell

Tracy Campbell uses her training in tattoo art to create boldly illustrated characters inspired by Disney films and video games.

How would you describe your style?

While I can do a range of styles, I would say that my preference mostly leans towards an illustrative approach, somewhere in between realism and cartoons (though I do enjoy drawing those as well!).

What subjects do you enjoy working on?

My favorite things to draw/paint are things that come from nature, such as animals, plants, flowers, etc. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and nature and animals were definitely a big inspiration for me as I learned how to make art.

What medium(s) do you work in?

Professionally, I work as a tattoo artist, and human skin is often my most popular medium. I also have a degree in graphic design, so I find myself working digitally a lot as well. Traditionally, I prefer to work with acrylic paint, watercolors, and pencil.

How has your process evolved?

When I first began drawing, I mostly worked with pencil and practiced doing realistic portraits, as well as anime and other cartoons. When I began my apprenticeship to become a tattoo artist in 2008, it certainly influenced the style that I preferred, and I leaned towards a more “tattooable” art style, which meant bold, clear illustrations and less realism (because skin moves over time, tattoos that hold up well over several years have fewer small details and clear subject matter).

As my tattoo career progressed, neotraditional tattoo design, which incorporated more illustrative elements and colors into what I had become accustomed to, became my favorite aesthetic. It combined what I was already doing with the cartoons and illustrations that I do outside of tattooing! I’ve also started moving back towards realism a bit in my paintings, because it’s a medium that gives me the freedom to do so, and it’s very therapeutic to dive into something different than what you’re used to every once in a while. 

What got you started creating art?

I’ve been creating art ever since I was old enough to pick up a pencil. When I was four years old, I distinctly remember asking my mom to write down stories as I told them, then I would illustrate the scenes! I also recall reading a book only a couple years later about a magic pencil; anything that you drew with it would come to life. I loved this concept, and I drew life-size renditions of my imaginary friends, which were inspired by art from video games like Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as Disney movies (because of course. =D). 

What artists influence your work?

I would definitely say that Glen Keane (Disney animator) was one of my earliest influences. I also love the art of [tattoo artists] Theresa Sharpe and Brando Chiesa.

"It's very therapeutic to dive into something different than what you're used to every once in a while."

Tracy Campbell, PatronArt Artist Tweet

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