Starting out an apprentice in a humble tattoo shop in South Jersey, Tim Pangburn began his career. Now, thousands of tattoos and many years later, he continues to fascinate the tattoo industry with his remarkable work. His artistry is all around skilled, ranging in all different styles including new school, photorealism, and old school as well. Tim is best known for cover-ups and enjoys doing them. Cover-ups can be viewed as a nightmare for artists, but Tim enjoys this aspect of the business and takes it on with one hell of a result. In 2007 Tim opened his own studio in the Fishtown area of Philadelphia called Art Machine Productions. He stocked the place with killer artists and it is a constant reminder of his continuing success. Wanna see just how Tim turns a persons regret into an incredible masterpiece? Be sure to catch Tim on this season of TLC’s series "America’s Worst Tattoos" which premieres TONIGHT at 9 P.M. est.
-Tell us how you got into tattoos and when you got started as a tattoo artist.
My great grandfather was an old sailor and had a bunch of stuff from the 40's, so I was around tattoos from a very young age. I got my first tattoo when I was 17 and it completely changed my life. I knew exactly what I wanted to do from that point. I managed to get an apprenticeship when I was 19 through a friend of my brother.
- How has your life been affected by tattooing? What's the best/worse experience you've had so far?
It's not so much that my life has been affected by tattooing, but my life has been shaped by it. I can't even imagine what life would be like without it. It's such an integral part of who I am.
It's hard to pinpoint best and worst moments. So much of my time has been spent in the shop with people I love. There's been good and bad times, I've had falling outs with people I was very close to, nightmare clients, you name it. Some of my best and worst moments have happened in the shop.
-Art Machine is an awesome space harboring some talented artists. Tell us a little about the faces behind Art Machine. How did you come to open your own studio?
I was very careful in selecting people who are amazing tattooers and all around nice people. There's Dave Cheplivouza, or Resp, who specializes in large scale Japanese work, though he's equally comfortable in several styles. Joey Knuckles specializes in neotraditional and new school, with strong foundations in traditional Americana. He's amazing with lettering too. Ben Harris also works in a neotraditional style, with a strong emphasis on bold color. Evan Lovett specializes in new school and illustrated realism, and he's like rain man with Sharpies. Gia Rose works in quite a few styles, focusing on soft color palettes and clean, tight linework. Steph Affet keeps the business smooth by handling promotion, marketing, and web stuff, giving me more time to do dances and skip through the shop. Then there's Nick Panzer, my apprentice. He's just now beginning to tattoo, so I'll say he's super handy with a mop.
-We have to ask – What's TLC's "Americas Worst Tattoos" all about? How'd you get on board with the show, and what can we look forward to seeing?
America's Worst Tattoos is pretty much a makeover show. People tell their horrible story about their hideous tattoo, then I help them cover it up. There's no drama, no fighting, none of that reality show crap. There's a little humor and lots of good tattooing. That's really all it's about. I was interviewed by producers at the Philly tattoo convention in 2012 and they called me back when they decided to film. I met some great people and had a lot of fun. That's what you get when you watch. Some laughs and fun tattoos. Plus I get to do my part educating the public on making wise decisions regarding tattoos.
-You are totally killing it with your cover-ups, and we're sure you've seen your fair share of sub-par work. What advice would you give someone considering getting work done?
I can't stress the importance of an artists portfolio. There are many factors to take into account. A lot of people look for the content of the work, and not the technical aspects. "Oh there's no pictures of fairies in your portfolio." Well, yeah. Of course not. Why would you want to get a tattoo someone else has? It's more important to look at the quality of their work. Are the lines even and not shaky? Is the color solid? Is the blending between colors smooth and even? These are the important things. Or if you're in doubt and don't know what to look for, come down to Art Machine Productions. We'll never steer you wrong. (shameless plug)
-Tell us a bit about how you feel American Traditional has influenced tattooing.
Traditional tattooing is the groundwork for all styles of modern tattooing. Whether you do portraits or new school, a solid understanding of traditional is necessary. The basic (yet incredibly challenging) premises of line work, smooth shading, and solid color are of utmost importance in traditional, and I think a lot of people can learn quite a bit by studying it.