Atlanta-based tattoo artist Russ Abbott has devoted his career to a different purpose than most other award- winning artists. Instead of constantly striving to create the most spectacular or realistic design that has ever been seen, Russ is concerned primarily with the longevity and the effects of ageing on his tattoos. Although he is constantly experimenting and trying out new techniques his style is “based on the time-tested theories that previous generations of tattooists have already proven”. Known for his distinctive graphic style, he works mainly with illustrative and Americana themed designs and has applied himself to learning everything there is to know about his chosen profession.
Born in Cumming, Georgia, Russ exhibited a passion for art from a very young age and created everything from still lives to animal portraits. Constantly searching for an outlet for his talent, Russ even volunteered to work on set design for the theatre program at his junior high school. His first experience with tattoos was a patriotic eagle that his grandfather had done shortly before being shipped off to Pearl Harbor. After the war public opinion towards tattoos soured and his grandfather told him that his tattoo had been a mistake. This piqued Russ’ interest as he claims he “enjoys making mistakes”. Originally envisioning a career in graphic design, Russ changed his mind after receiving his first tattoo at the age of 18. After a brief attempt at learning the techniques himself, he decided that the correct route to becoming a respected artist was through a formal apprenticeship.
Russ’ style incorporates realism, illustrative, Japanese, and traditional genres and he states that he enjoys “projects with a timeless appeal”. He especially delights in working on dramatic historical designs that have the ability to tell a story such as Cowboys and Indians riding through the Arizona desert or pioneer wagons being chased by wolves across Montana. Thanks to his loyal clients that understand and trust Russ’ ability he is now able to work almost exclusively within his preferred genre. By focusing on the theme, placement, clarity, complexity, color scheme, and lighting within his designs Russ is able to create some spectacular tattoos that are able to stand up to the test of time.
Russ’ incredible understanding and skill with the color palette is evident in his beautiful design of a Japanese Geisha. The intricately designed bird of paradise on the fan is portrayed in many different colors and shades that all work perfectly together. The use of light and shading in this piece is stunning and the vivid colors look even more effective next to the pale skin and black hair of the Geisha. Russ’ versatility as an artist is shown in his incredibly realistic black and gray portrait of a fighter pilot. This touching memorial is expertly shaded and he has created a melancholy expression on the pilot’s face that lends authenticity to the piece (below).
It’s a well-known fact that artists will excel when they get the chance to work within their preferred style. This is proven by the awesome full sleeve design depicting a Wild West scene showing wolves chasing after a stage coach (below). Russ’ love of Americana and dramatic tattoos has allowed him to create something truly special and the amount of detail in this piece is astonishing. This exciting design tells a story which begins at the top of the shoulder and winds carefully down to the bottom of the wrist and every square inch of the tattoo holds something interesting for the onlooker. Only by enjoying the work can the artist create something so impressive and the client was no doubt thrilled with the result.
Russ is currently working out of his own studio ‘Ink and Dagger Tattoo Parlor’ located in Decatur, Georgia. This well respected studio is home to a number of talented resident and guest artists, and hosts many themed celebrations and parties for its clients. Russ is able to divide his time between tattooing out of his shop and attending a number of conventions including the ‘Tried and True Tattoo Expo’ where he is regularly seen. He also gives seminars on color theory to try and pass on his exceptional knowledge of color use to aspiring artists. Although he has an incredibly busy schedule he has found the time to create an instructional DVD ‘Iron Clad: Tattoos Built to Last’. This information packed DVD offers a unique insight into Russ’ techniques and offer the best bits of his extensive tattoo education.
It is possible to request an appointment with Russ using the booking form on his website but availability is limited due to his hectic schedule. Those who are unable to get a booking with Russ can choose from a number of other talented artists within his studio who are more than happy to accommodate client’s wishes. Russ has been tattooing for over 10 years and is constantly looking to improve his technique and ability whilst preserving the beauty of the tattoo over time. Those looking for a distinctive tattoo that will hold its original beauty for years to come would be advised to get on Russ’ waiting list. Holding out a few extra years for a tattoo that will last a lifetime is worth it in the long run, and Russ’ incredible designs are definitely worth waiting for.