Brother Greg is Greg Rancourt, artist and tattooist with over 18 years in the business. Brother Greg is also owner of San Clemente Tattoo, located at 117 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, California, 949-498-8487, on the web at sanclementetattoo.com.
[ Swallows & Daggers interview with Brother Greg in 2010 ]
What’s your name and where do you work currently?
Brother Greg. I’ve been working at Laguna Tattoo in Laguna Beach California for about ten years now, since 2000.
Where are you from originally?
How did you get into tattooing? Did you do a traditional apprenticeship?
No, in 1991 I had a couple friends give me some advice and help with information on what to buy and who to buy it from. that was after I had been a scratcher for about a year. then I was a professional scratcher for a couple more years, because I had my (professional) Spaulding-Rogers 500.00 starter kit, complete with a diploma I think. Later on in 1994 I started working with John Ondo from Blitz MFG and had some good friends like Juan Puente and Danny Dringenberg who all gave me some good advice on ‘’ real’’ tattooing and ‘‘real’’ tattoo equipment.
How old are you? And how much time have you been creating your design style? (traditional, neo-traditional, so on)
53, born 1956. I don’t know if I have a specific design style, it’s been constantly changing for about 45yrs. but I’ve always admired the American traditional since I started tattooing.
How did you get contact with this style in the first place?
Ed Hardy tattoo times books, hardy/marks sailor jerry outline books, tattoo magazines. No internet influences for years to come!
Is there some special reason for you to like these kind of designs?
No special reason. It’s just like pizza , very simple, nothing special, it just taste damn good, ya know? Of course you do, everybody loves pizza.
Tell us some names that really influence you on your designs?
Of course the usuals, Jerry, Ed, Rollo, Bert, Owen, later on: , Deutsche, Higgs, Conn, Lehi, Sylvia, Rassier, Puente, Whitehead, Wilson, Gibson, Rubendall and so many more of course.
What elements do you like most and why? (e.g., some like more roses, others diamonds, eyes and so on.)
Wings, scales, clouds, water, faces, are a few. I don’t know exactly why, they just look good.
When you’re creating some designs for a tattoo, you think that’s important to know the meanings of each design?
No, sometimes I’m sorry I asked, so I usually don’t. It’s not L.A. Ink!
Can you explain how you come up with an idea for a tattoo design in your mind? What’s your inspiration?
I usually concentrate on the composition of the design depending on where it’s going on the body, or on Japanese place the main elements and freehand the backround/foreground after.
In which circumstances do you have better ideas for designs? (Would u rather have your client give you full range to do your thing or do u like having a really specific direction?)
When you go to a five star restaurant, do you think it’s a good idea to tell the chef how to prepare your meal? Probably not. I’m not five star, but I usually have a better qualification than most of my customers.
Do you think that the artist should reinvent themselves every day trying new things?
I’m studying art in one way or another every day of my life. I don’t know, or care about anyone else, but for me it’s necessary to study and reinvent in order to get better. I’m not as super natural an artist as some people I know, that ideas and art comes way more easier. Plus my memory is a little shot. lets just say, I grew up in the 70’s.
Would u rather hold on or sell your unique arts or original paintings?
I don’t keep anything original, and I stopped buying originals a long time ago. Laser prints last a lot longer than watercolor. I give, sell, or trade my originals.
Which of your own tattoos is currently your favorite? Why?
Chris Conn did my lower legs in late 90’s, nuff said and my Buddhist temple tattoo done in eastern Thailand, and blessed by the high priest.