Heart On His Sleeves

Stefan Ruiz Gets Under the Skin of Scott Campbell

Brooklyn-based tattoo artist Scott Campbell has been inking A-listers since he opened his parlor Saved Tattoo in 2004. Though his clients include Marc Jacobs (who tapped Campbell for a host of wacky designs including bulldogs, donuts and SpongeBob SquarePants), Courtney Love (who he recently adorned with a smattering of small, red flowers) and the late Heath Ledger (who was a close friend), Campbell has in recent years become something of a celebrity himself, particularly since he mounted his first solo show as a fine artist at Miami’s OHWOW gallery in 2009. As a tattooist, he has a unique, humorous and emotional approach to bodily decoration, admitting to a fondness for juvenile, spontaneous tattoos—"all those tattoos that you’re supposed to regret when you’re older.” Campbell says of such reckless decoration: “It just has a charm. It captures an amazing moment in growing up.” The nostalgic, associative context of his work becomes especially clear upon entering his studio, filled as it is with tattoo memorabilia, cuttings and artifacts. The ephemera are sourced from locations as diverse as flea markets in Paris to prisons in Mexico City, where Campbell recently spent a month fashioning “Frankenstein-looking machines” (improvising devices from Walkman motors, melted toothbrushes and guitar strings) to work on inmates that he found were in sore need of a sense of individuality. Ahead of Campbell’s second solo art show If You Don’t Belong, Don’t Be Long (his first in his home town of New York, which opens today), NOWNESS sent photographer and former Creative Director of Colors magazine Stefan Ruiz to capture Campbell and the inspiration objects in his lair.
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