Ink Defense caught up with Pro-team member Xaiver “X-ray” Ray to learn about his career in the industry.
ID: Tell us about your career in Tattooing
I am a self-taught artist and have been tattooing for about 6 years. I went to school for graphic design. This gave me a foundation to start and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I learned 2D, 3D, color theory, portion and perspective and more.
ID: Tell us about how you started tattooing.
I researched tattooing. Apprenticeships weren’t really available, so I bought a small kit and started tattooing people in my neighborhood. Honestly, my first tattoo was horrible.
I went to a shop and asked for an apprenticeship. The owner made me draw one piece, a design with the Virgin Mary. I did it, then I spent two weeks cleaning the shop! After that the owner said Go (start tattooing), without any direction. I was nervous and felt I could screw up. So much for an apprenticeship.
ID: Tell us about your favorite style.
I tend to go toward black and grey using a simple approach. I don’t use a lot of white. I try to use the clients skin tone to work as a highlight. This technique creates a different look and lasts longer, and it is more natural.
I started out tattooing in a college town. It makes it hard to get people to let me do my own thing. People want what their friends have, same design. No originality and it was hard to broach that hurdle.
I did Dobby from Harry Potter for a client. The one thing the client wanted was Dobby holding the sock, which represented his freedom. With only that requirement, she told me to do what I wanted. Dobby is one of my favorite characters so it really was something I could get into. I wanted to represent Dobby as a servant in rags and dirt. Oftentimes clients need to understand if they let us (tattoo artists) do what we need to do we can make the piece special for the client.
ID: What makes you different from other artists?
I look at what other artists do and do the opposite to create my own style. The small, simple things can make you different. I am still discovering ways I can be different. It definitely takes time.
ID: So how do you grow your talent?
I started looking at the people around me, seeing what I could learn. I watched YouTube. Then I started going to shows and talking to other artists.
I actually did a partial show in Houston. I was talking to a guy named Nic. He offered for me to jump in and try. I did a few small pieces. Being at a show is different. The first tattoo I did felt like my very first tattoo ever, with all the people watching me. After this I did a full on show and it was great. The artists around my booth had 15+ years experience. They were welcoming which relaxed me a lot. Their sharing helped me to learn a lot.
I continue to guest spots and shows to help me learn more from other artists.
Xavier “X-ray” Ray lives in Houston, Texas and is currently working at Black Bird Tattoo Studio in Houston. He is taking on new clients.