Australian artist Benjamin Laukis travels and tattoos on the road, and will soon be bringing his painterly and sometimes provocative realism style to the 13th edition of The London Tattoo Convention. Benjamin, alongside his five 'Rat Pack' comrades, made convention history last year by scooping 'Best of Show' with an incredible backpiece tattooed by the entire group over the weekend. This year, the superstar team are set to return and work together on another impressive large-scale piece.
This week we caught up with Benjamin to find out more...
Let's start by introducing your work; how would you best describe your own tattoo style, and what are your favourite subjects to tattoo?
I would probably describe my style as realistic with an illustrative and/or painterly touch. I like to tattoo most subjects as long as I can put my own twist to it, but I do love the latex fetish themed pieces a lot, I find both the theme and the textures interesting to apply to a tattoo.
How are you enjoying the experience of travelling and tattooing 'on the road'?
Living on the road was challenging at first, but now I've grown accustomed to it, it's actually great; although sometimes it's nice to stay put for a while. One thing I've realised is how much stuff I don't need, literally everything I used to own is almost useless now. For now it's great, let's see how it goes for the future...
Recently you have been making waves across the convention scene with your collaborative project, the 'Rat Pack', in which a group of 6 tattoo artists work together on one large scale piece. Which artists make up the pack and how did the idea come together?
The group consists of Steve Butcher, Yomico Moreno, Sam Barber, Jak Connolly, Matt Jordan and the recently added Dave "Tigrao" Paulo who filled in for Matt as he couldn't make it last time. From memory it was Steve who mentioned (probably inebriated at the time) that we should do a big piece together. We organised it for The London Tattoo Convention last year and it was a blast!
What is special about the group of artists in the crew – which skills does each artist bring to the table and how do your styles work together?
Everybody in the group knew one another well before the collaboration concept came about, I think that's why we work pretty well together... there will always be people butting heads, but that can't be helped, haha!
The way we work is to switch artists around the tattoo quite frequently, making sure everybody has to adapt to the new area previously started by another, so it presents as seamless, as opposed to just working on a section each.
Can you describe the typical design process when working together?
The design process so far has been two or three people handling the bulk of the design on each piece, but with everybody having input of course.
Usually somebody will present a concept or basic idea that we all agree on and go from there, and this can be one of the most difficult parts of the whole thing!
True to your namesake, rats have appeared in the large scale projects completed by the Rat Pack thus far.. will this subject always appear in the Rat Pack collab's tattoos, and what does the image represent?
The first design we collaborated on included a rat, it was part of a london themed piece and I can't remember who (maybe Jak or Steve?) dubbed us the Rat Pack, but now it's something that will most likely continue to appear in each design whether big or small.
Last year the Rat Pack Collab made convention history by scooping the Best of Show award for an incredible backpiece, the first time the award has ever been split between 6! What do you have planned for this year's show? How can customers book with you?
Well this year at the show, we will be completing a full front panel on the same crazy kid, Cornelius, who won Best of Show last year! And it was his idea! Haha. Other than that I'm not sure what will be happening, I personally don't plan so far ahead. We all take bookings via our personal emails and when we have a collaboration lined up we all post on instagram with the relevant details.
Thank you for the opportunity, and keep an eye out for some fun stuff from myself and the guys this year!
Catch Benjamin tattooing at The London Tattoo Convention this September 22-23-24th; advance tickets are now on sale, get yours today!