Rockers Who Tattoo: A.K.A.s’ Mike Ski Talks about Sinking the Ink
Heavy-music fans best know Mike Ski as the frontman of the A.K.A.s, the Philly punk rawkers who recently dropped their latest album, Animal Summer (Paper+Plastick). What fans might not know is that the ink-covered vocalist is also a skilled tattoo artist. And in celebration of Revolver's current tattoo issue, we thought we'd talk to Ski about his visual art.
REVOLVER How long have you been tattooing?
It's been around 15 years or so. There's been times where I've tattooed both full and part time over that span of time. Still trucking.
How/why did you start?
Myself and all the friends I came up with were into tattoos and were getting tattooed by a friend of ours who ended up moving away shortly thereafter. It was a time when we didn't know much outside of our hometown aside from traveling to see bands, and there weren't many local people that were into the stuff we were into. I had been drawing my whole life and was interested in learning myself. With great trust and support from my friends–and their bravery in letting me tattoo them so early–I taught myself. Not something I would recommend nowadays, but sometimes you gotta make your own options I suppose.
Where do you tattoo?
I do a lot of traveling and tattooing on the road. When I'm home, I'm excited to have recently started tattooing by appointment at Olde City Tattoo in Philadelphia. It's always been my favorite tattoo spot in Philly since before I moved here a couple years ago. Whenever I was in town on tour I would go there and just look at all the flash for an hour. Call and make an apt! www.oldecitytattoo.com
What piece are you the most proud of?
I think like a lot of people who do different kinds of art, I'm constantly trying to learn and get better–so much so that any excitement of a sweet high fiver is short-lived. I almost completely replace my tattoo book every few months as hopefully continues to evolve. That said, I know my dad still talks about a portrait of a pit bull I did like 10 years ago. Even though it wasn't that awesome by any means, I like to say that's my favorite piece just because nothing ever impresses that guy, so it's kind of funny.
How would you describe your style?
I try to keep rounded and I like doing different stuff, however, my favorite stuff tends to be Traditional American. Bold lines, lots of black, with a contrast of bright colors. I like tattoos that you can read from a block away and look good for a long time.
Have you tattooed any other musicians?
Yes sir. Lots. Bros from Bring Me The Horizon, Silverstein, AlexisOnFire, Anti-Flag, Gallows, POS, Chiodos, Bayside…to name a few.
What’s the most annoying client you’ve ever dealt with?
I tend to be an idealist, and therefore am continually fascinated by people in general and the different ways they approach getting tattoos, so I get more amused than annoyed. Obviously, some are more challenging than others, but that's part of being a tattooer is giving your advice and opinions and ultimately making the person the most stoked. You don't always get to do a skull on a forearm…but that's what keeps it interesting. Two bits of advice: 1) Quit moving around. 2) Flex your tips yo.
Mike Ski photo by Kencredible