Cinema Criminals Interviews: Tattoo Artist Roux Potter
An eclectic mix of knick knacks line the walls, splashes of faded hues and vintage design give the feel of a much older person's dwelling. Roux Alexander (8GayScorpions) is only 25, but the sophistication seen in their apartment design seems to carry over into their art. A mix of fine linework, quirky concepts, blackwork and "ignorant" style tattoos stack their portfolio, a clean stylistic approach in every piece they churn out. They juxtapose a certain delicacy with edge, like a fine razor blade.
Only a year of tattooing with a machine under their belt– but a foundation based on traditional illustrative stick & pokes– and they've achieved the steady hand of a pro, comfortable behind their chosen medium.
I was lucky enough to receive one of these fine pieces, a design of their creation; a puffy cloud with flowers sprouting forth from the fluff, roots hanging from under the formless mist, grasping at mid air. Somehow melancholy and inspiring simultaneously, a melody that carries through their aura.
Laid in a dimly lit studio in a forgotten almost-city in Connecticut, surrounded by smoke haze, the dull buzzing of neon lights (spelling out, of course, the word "tattoo") and the harsher, more intense hum of the tattoo machine numbing my leg– I get to watch an artist in their zone. Their focus is impenetrable, taking meticulous care with each line; yet they converse with ease, providing a comfortable space. "Tattoos can provide a way to feel connected to your body, to practice meditation, to express yourself," they state. "These things are really important to me and I enjoy cultivating a space where I can connect with others in this way."
Months later, I look at the healed piece; not a shaky line to be seen. Sure, the bias towards art on my own body might seem inevitable; but alas, I am a bearer of many a shitty tattoo. Their clientele, small yet steadily supportive of their artistic endeavors, share equally fine-lined pieces. The artistic skill progression is undeniable and thrilling to watch from an outside perspective.
We meet again for a photoshoot, this time at a quiet flowery park in the town they grew up in. They match the scene, bright green hair shining neon in the sun, at home next to the hydrangea bush sharing similar hues. Here, they appear timid, camera shy; a doe-eyed visage standing in stark contrast to their confident artistic persona. This meticulous self-awareness adds a refreshing perspective to their take on art making, bringing a delicacy to how they approach the medium. "Tattoos have had social significance since we have been aware of our own mortality, yet white culture portrays tattoos as something for degenerates, outlaws, snowflakes, etc. This is based in racism and it is the responsibility of any white tattoo artist to acknowledge and take steps to make reparations for this. Tattoos can be sacred and I want my art to reflect this," Alexander states. In a craft so ego-driven and dominated by straight cis white men, this do-no-harm stance hints at a generation rejuvenating a stagnant, old-school tattoo world. That's not to say they don't respect the traditions; they cite their inspiration from traditional folk art, tarot, religious symbolism, and nature, all familiar staples of the industry.
The entire world is revolutionizing, the art world included. The youth inheriting the craft are dismantling corruption while platforming the traditional; a marriage of the old and the new. Roux Alexander is helping create a future of inclusivity, stating they hope for "less gatekeeping and barriers to [tattoo] knowledge… tattoo designs that are legible on all skin colors, not just white skin, and more enthusiasm towards new artists and an exploration in styles of tattoo designs." Their hope is contagious, and with this new wave of free-thinking artists filing into the art universe, it is an entirely possible vision.
2022 Foks Lo, Cinema Criminals