Alex Hobin (Al) joined the Sharp Art team as an apprentice – then became a full artist in 2016.
I got my first tattoo because one of my mates became a tattoo artist. More and more of my friends started getting tattooed by him so I thought fuck it – I’ll get one. I pretty much got hooked after that.
My first tattoos had a personal meaning – but now I’ve definitely moved away from that. I like tattoos because they’re art – they’re expressive. They used to be a rite-of-passage almost – but the culture’s shifted. Tattooing’s moved on a bit but they’re still sort of anti-establishment. I’ve never liked the idea of playing along with the system. I’ve always been into skating and surfing – a bit of a non-conformist.
I always knew I was going to draw and do something creative for a living. I got a BTEC in technical illustration, nearly went into scientific illustration but moved to graphics instead. I was always the illustrator – doing something creative for whichever company I worked for.
I’ve always been a fan of anime and comic characters – that illustrative quality is definitely reflected in my style. I use realism as my reference – my beginning – but it ends with a comic book look with the lines and stylization of the piece. I love tattooing animals and people – I think a lot of comics and computer games are character driven and that’s why I’m drawn to them. It’s interesting to do.
When it comes to tattooing I love that no two things are the same. It pushes you to reinvent your drawing, to experiment with composition and style so that every client gets something unique. I genuinely like how much people buzz off what you do for them – when I worked in graphics that was not the case at all it was so detached and just expected of you – whereas when someone gets a personal tattoo off you and they go away beaming it brings great job satisfaction.
I also like being my own boss. And the shop culture is great – you meet all sorts of people and that’s just as interesting as every design you create. It keeps you on your toes.