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  1. An Interview with David Corden
An Interview with David Corden

An Interview with David Corden

David Corden owns and works at Semper Tattoo in Edinburgh, UK. He has been tattooing since 2007 and specialises in realism, whether it is portrait, wildlife or pinup.

When David was starting off a lot of his friends were getting realistic tattoos and there was an increase in realism tattoos being shown on TV. David decided to design his own tattoo of a Dragon with detailed line work and brought it to Jim Gambell at Ritual Art Tattoo in Rainham. Jim and David had a lot in common and shared the same likes artistically. So much so that Jim asked David to bring in a portfolio of his artwork.

It did take a while for David to get back to Jim with his portfolio, but whether it would be luck or fate, David and Jim met again four years later when David’s cousin was receiving a tattoo from Jim. Hours later, David landed an apprentice job at Ritual Art Tattoo.

David and his work can now be seen at conventions and guest spots in various places across the U.S. and Europe. This summer marks 8 years since David began tattooing.

Not wanting to take too much time out of his busy schedule, we were lucky enough to be able to ask him a few questions:

KI: You have recently set up a new studio in the historic Grassmarket in Edinburgh called Semper Tattoo. What was your main influence to set up there? I can see that the scenery is inspirational!

DAVID: I first came to Edinburgh on a holiday in August 2013 and like most, I fell totally in love with the city. It was around the same time as I was planning on opening a studio so it got me to thinking that maybe this was the place to do it. At the time I never dreamt I would end up in the Grassmarket, let alone get permission to set up the studio there as the buildings are listed and it being so close to the Castle yet, here we are, all set to open a studio beside a Volcano with Edinburgh Castle on top!

KI: What was your first encounter with tattooing? Was this something you always knew you wanted to do, or did you fall into it?

DAVID: My Dad has tattoos from his Navy days. He had them done when he was 16, having lied about his age when enlisting. They were done in Hong Kong harbour by a traditional hand tap artist. Three of his crew mates had them at the same time but didn't want to spend as much as he had so went to a side street parlour and all three got an infection and were fined and put on report so I guess that put in the back of my mind how important it is to go to the right people and not to look for the cheapest option. I wasn't looking to become a tattoo artist. I never realised it was possible to do the things on skin that you see nowadays so it didn't interest me initially. I didn't get my first tattoo until I was 30 and that was after doing loads of research as to the best artist to do what I wanted and as it happened it was that same artist that became my boss because he offered me a job based on my artwork.

KI: What other mediums interest you?

DAVID: I have always been a pencil artist but I am very keen to learn to oil paint. For some reason I feel like I'd be considered more like a real artist by people if I produced canvasses, plus there would be no time limit on me actually finishing a piece haha.

KI: What do you want to tattoo more of?

DAVID: I'd actually like to tattoo more portraits of iconic movie characters, both real and fictional. My passion has always been in producing portraits so I always find myself watching movies and TV shows and wanting to replicate what I see.

KI: You travel a lot to conventions and guest spot in various places across Europe and the U.S. What is your favourite place to visit?

DAVID: My favourite place is Austin Texas. I have fallen in love with the city, it's food, it's pace of life and it's lifestyle. It's there that some of my closest friends live and I'm long overdue a visit.

KI: What has been your favourite moment in your career, so far?

DAVID: I think my favourite moment was my first ever awards. I won them at the Liverpool tattoo convention. Best of day and best of show for the same piece. I didn't expect to win or think I stood a chance so when they came and told me I didn't believe them. I phoned my dad to tell him and got a little emotional. I was very proud.

KI: What does the next couple of years hold for you? Are you looking to do anything special for your 10th year in tattooing?

DAVID: The opening of the studio is the biggest thing on my mind right now. It is the culmination of all that I've learned so far from all those that have been kind enough to teach me and have ever given me advice. I'm very excited to be in a position to be doing what I am and that its in Edinburgh. I think it will certainly take up a good chunk of the next year or two making it fit with my vision and moulding it into the studio I want it to be. I hadn't really thought about a ten year anniversary…I am now though! Haha

KI: I can look at a load of tattoos on websites and blogs and can identify your work straight away without looking at the credits because of the amount of detail in your tattoos. How do you like to put your own unique style on your tattoos?

DAVID: People often say to me that they know my work when they see it and I'm always surprised. I guess because I copy things I don't see my work as having a particular style. Including the smallest details is just something I have always done, first on paper and now on skin. I think that it's important when copying something that you include it all because a detail you leave out could be something crucial to making the entire piece work. I think it's especially true when doing a portrait of a loved one. That detail you don't see as important could be the one thing the client always remembered the person for whether it be a wrinkle, a freckle or even a stray hair. It may seem insignificant to us but it could be the single most crucial thing to the client.

KI: How can people contact you for appointments?

DAVID: To make an enquiry about an appointment you should email Sempertattoo@gmail.com and include as much information as possible. Your idea, the placement and size. Whether it is to be colour or black and grey and any relevant photos. The more information you can give us the quicker and easier we can deal with your request.

KI: What’s the best advice you've ever been given?

DAVID: Don't make decisions when angry and don't make promises when you're happy.

KI: Anything you would like to say?

DAVID: Just like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has gotten me this far and believed in me from the start. To be able to make a living from your passion is something that shouldn't be taken for granted and I know how lucky I am.

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You can find more of David’s work through the following links below:

Website: http://www.sempertattoo.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davidcordentattoos?fref=ts   https://www.facebook.com/sempertattoo?fref=ts

Instagram: @davidcorden

Interview by Liam McGibbon

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