Bryce Oprandi – Owner/Tattooer at The Martlet Tattoo Parlor – Hollywood, CA
George: So how long have you owned and operated The Martlet ?
Bryce: It’s going to be 6 years in October.
George: When did you start Tattooing?
Bryce: I got my apprenticeship in 2007, then one year later I started working at Red Hot Tattoo with Joe Caram, Pat Sweeney and Jen Mclellan. Jen was the one who taught me.
George: Did you go in there and get tattooed a lot and then all of a sudden they saw potential?
Bryce: Yeah, I would be getting tattooed there and a couple of other spots and I didn’t know shit about tattooing. I would just go in there and get whatever.
George: So what was the first tattoo you got?
Bryce: Matching stars with Courtney my wife, we were dating at the time.
George: So that was your first tattoo?! A matching tattoo? Haha..that eventually spawned all these other tattoos?
George: Did you have any idea that it would turn into this and you would become a tattoo artist? How did that happen? Was your job shitty at the time?
Bryce: When I was in high school one of my girlfriends would get tattooed. She was messing around and was trying to learn and would try to teach me how to tattoo and I wasn’t really into it. Never really thought much about it. I was running a lot of track.
George: You ran track?
Bryce: Yeah for about 5 years.
George: I never took you for an athlete. You were a jock?
Bryce: Yeah, not like a football jock
George: Did you have any sort of scholarships being offered
Bryce: This was in Pasadena before I started tattooing. It was coming down to tattooing or going to run for Arizona State. It got really political. It wasn’t fun anymore and at that time I was halfway through a sleeve.
George: How soon was it before you would run and after getting tattooed did you decide on one over the other?
Bryce: Back then, I had to run every day. I was getting paid to do that
George: You were getting paid to run?
George: Did you skateboard before running
Bryce: All through high school I skated, my friend’s older brother got us into it
George: Were you street or ramp?
Bryce: Street for sure. I like to jump stairs
George: No way! What was the most stairs you cleared?
George: You did 10?! That’s pretty big! I haven’t even done 10!
Bryce: Holly Avenue, they have a little 10 stair
George: Anyways, back to it, so you started going to Red Hot and you got the apprenticeship. Did you ask for it?
Bryce: I asked the guy tattooing me. His name was Joe Caram. He gave me a bunch of homework, so I came back with a bunch of drawings showed him and he talked to the boss. She told me I needed to come back with more drawings, so I came back with more drawings and it just so happened that someone one had just quit, so I ended up getting the apprenticeship
George: Did you have any artistic ability prior to this?
Bryce: Nothing really great. I wouldn’t call myself an artist
George: So you had to learn from the grassroots?
George: So could you draw?
Bryce: I could draw certain things, back then we did not have social media to see millions of people tattooing and I had magazines to look at and would cut out photos of tattoos and try to replicate them
George: Was there anyone you try to emulate? I know for me in standup comedy there are certain people I look towards for inspiration. I don’t want to sound the same but they give me an outline of how I want to sound? Any artists for you?
Bryce: This cat from Australia Stevie Edge. I bought a round trip ticket to Australia and got my chest done. That guy was killing it, coolest guy ever. I got tattooed and he was the nicest guy, I was surprised because I had this idea that a lot of tattoo artists could be rock stars, but he was like the nicest guy and a few years later I went over there and worked with him
George: Painful as hell?
Bryce: Yeah, 4 hours on the chest…4 hours anywhere is super shitty.
George: It’s a good feeling because you went through all this to get them though right? I Googled you and an image where you tattooed Snooki from The Jersey Shore popped up. Elaborate?
Bryce: A girl that does her hair recommended her. She’s actually really smart and far from the character she played on TV
George: It was awesome to be able to attend your wedding. It was super classic and had a traditional theme to it. It was one of the nicest weddings I have ever been too. Very 1950’sish. Are you a fan of that era?
Bryce: It was an era of very clean, very structured look. Looks rough and tough and still very simple . It’s the enchantment of it and nostalgia after
George: Does your wife play a role in your creative process?
Bryce: I bounce ideas off her and she tells me this could be good or this can work better but most of my inspiration just comes from LA, and the culture I live in
George: So LA has played a part in shaping you professionally. Do you feel like travelling and getting tattooed by artists has as well?
Bryce: Definitely! For sure! Learning different things, there’s so much knowledge out there.
George: Do you feel like there are any parallels between skateboarding and tattooing?
–One of the other shop artist jumps in. Justin Klegka:
Justin: Exact same thing! There are the guys who have true style and are actually doing it cool and then the guy who is so good but you can care less that he has no style, it’s the mentality if you’re doing a good job with it people are going to like it. It takes more than being good it’s super hard and super frustrating.
George: How important is style
Justin: It’s the only thing you have.
George: What’s your favorite Envy Needle configuration?
Bryce: I like the traditional 8’s where it’s not so bold and it’s not so tight where it’s not going to look too dainty
George: How about the Wrath Tubes?
Bryce: The Nexus is my favorite. I love the beveled angle and the tiffany color. Look at my shoes, we love taking them to conventions because they are easy to pack also.
George: Top 3 most influential artists?
- Cheyenne Sawyer @ Atlas – He’s a killer daddy
- Ross Jones @ Idle Hand – He’s a legend who’s been tattooing forever and such a nice guy
- Chris Marchetto @ Iron First & Redemption Tattoo
George: How about outside of tattooing?
Bryce: There are so many. YG inspires me. My little sister inspires me the most though she’s tough. She’s adventurous is only 5 foot 4 and works on a boat in Alaska and is getting her captain’s license right now
George: Most annoying walk in?
Bryce: When people want words… It’s never really that simple and they want way more and in their minds, they really don’t know the difference on what sounds good as opposed to what looks good for a tattoo.
George: What do you like the most about being on the road?
Bryce: The adventure. The new food, the tattoos, the people. I feel like it’s been a part of tattooing history for so long
George: Any favorite places to tattoo ?
Bryce: Australia is dope! I’m in love with that country and I love to tattoo in SF
George: Where do you feel like in the world is killing it the most for traditional tattooing?
Bryce: I feel like Europe is killing the traditional game
George: Do you feel like you have a technique to making your tattoos pop?
Bryce: I definitely think more black pushes out the color and I find myself using more color than black and it just balances itself out, bright colors pop
George: What ink do you prefer?
Bryce: I really like that Solid Ink now
George: Pros and cons about owning a shop?
Bryce: Being your own boss, but everyone here is their own boss. I’m basically here to keep things in check. The con would be management. Here in LA especially
George: How did you come up with name Martlet?
Bryce: I wanted to figure something out that wasn’t done. There were sailors on ships who would see little swallow birds and they were so small people thought they didn’t have any feet so with the inability to land these fuckers thought they were going to fly forever. To me that symbolized knowledge and adventure associated with that type of learning and freedom, constantly moving and learning. Everything is an adventure
George: So for anyone reading, thinking about starting a new shop, what would you say to get the name out and draw more people to the shop?
Bryce: Now with social media it’s important to have your own voice. Conventions used to be the thing but now you have to have a good presence online.
George: That’s pretty much a wrap dude thanks so much man!