My name is Garrett Harper and I’m a Chicago-born tattoo artist. I specialize in black and gray realism, and I focus on images that are elegant, dark, and moody, and, at the same time, mysterious.
For me, I have been drawing my whole life. I started off drawing comic books, drawing anything I could see. And quickly I became bored with it. It just wasn’t as, like, fulfilling for me. And being an artist, you know, you take a lot of time to draw a really nice, realistic image. And I didn’t feel like I had that amount of appreciation from the people I was showing my art to. So tattooing, in a selfish way, kind of felt like something I could do that people would appreciate a lot more.
If you’re going to become a tattoo artist, you should really do some soul-searching. You gotta think about the kind of life you want to live. You have to really analyze what you think you’re going to do as a tattoo artist. Because in most cases, what you think is going to happen and what actually happens is very different. You think it’s going to be this rockstar lifestyle and you’ll make a lot of money, and at the end of the day, that’s not the case.
It’s a difficult job. There’s a lot of pressure to maintain a high level of quality consistently throughout your career. It’s very easy to slack off. You’re working seven days a week. And people don’t realize that—when you’re a tattoo artist, it’s not just what’s on the skin. There’s a lot of preparation work, there’s a lot of research that goes into each piece. It can be very work-intensive.
Tattooing as an art form is so unique in that it’s permanent. The level of difficulty, the precise nature of it, has always been kind of exciting for me. I like to be challenged. And the idea that if I’m doing something with someone’s skin, and this person’s going to wear it for the rest of their lives–that level of intensity is something that’s driven me to really progress and try to be the best tattoo artist that I can. To find something that you love is definitely something that you can just be thankful for. And for me, just the lifestyle—the ability to go to work and really enjoy work and get lost in my work—is something that you can’t find anywhere else.
Learn all about the production and details of this mini-doc with Corey Lillard in our behind-the-scenes video!
Hi, my name is Corey Lillard. I’m with Magnanimous Media. Recently, I shot a mini-doc using the C500 with the Leica Summicrons. There were a few questions about how I did certain sequences in the documentary, so I’m here to address those.
So, when it came to shooting the Garrett Harper mini-doc, I basically used three of the Summicron lenses. I stuck around with the 50, the 75, and the 18. Just helped me cover the entire lens I needed all day. These lenses are not only sharp, but they’re also creamy. They render beautiful skin tones. And for a documentary about a tattoo artist, where I’m shooting a lot of skin, they’re the perfect choice.
So, with the C500, I shot directly into the Odyssey 7Q. This allowed me to shoot 4K RAW. Now, this does create huge files, and it’s a lot of post work, but when you see that final image, it certainly is worth the time.
There were quite a few questions of how I lit the last portion of the mini-doc. This is a moment when I dollied in, and a light rose up on a subject as we got closer. This was also shot in 60 frames per second.
This is a light by a company by the name of Aadyntech. This is called the Eco Punch Plus. This is a great light because it comes with a controller that you can dim—you can do many effects, such as lightning, strobes, all of this light. So it’s a great light to have on set. And it’s also very powerful. I think this is equivalent to a 3,000-watt.
So, with the Aadyntech, I created what’s called a book light, in which you take a larger light, you throw it into something reflective, and then the reflection of that, you soften it, going through a 4×4 silk or some sort of grid. So it creates this really intense-yet-soft, also directional light, which is perfect to work with in a black studio, where I don’t want light flashing all around and bouncing off of objects. Still really controlled, yet really soft.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to watch our video. If you haven’t seen the Garrett Harper Mini-Doc, it will be linked down below. Everything I used to shoot the documentary is available at Magnanimous—it was a Magnanimous shoot. So feel free to reach out to us with any questions, concerns, and we’ll get to them as soon as we can. Thank you for your time.