Fruit Punch - An interview with Steve Wood

We knew when releasing our newest Fruit Punch seasonal blend, that it's a little different to your everyday coffee blend, it catches you off guard, takes your taste buds for a ride, and most importantly pushes boundaries in terms of what coffee can be - just how we like it. 

This year we asked one of our favourite local tattoo artists & Atomic regular, Steve Wood for some help in creating our Fruit Punch artwork. 


Talk us through your beginnings, how did you start? 

Back when I started tattooing it was a super hard industry to get into. You really needed an apprenticeship but they were pretty hard to come by. It was all about relationships. I was at art school at the time and as soon as I was finished for the day I would head to the tattoo shop. Auckland tattoo on Ponsonby road. I would hang out there most nights because it was open till midnight back then. And just Hang out there. I was probably super annoying. But I met a bunch of tattooers and was immersed in the culture. I met my first boss Noel there. He eventually opened a shop and offered me an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships were pretty awful, you were just basically the workhorse. Cleaning toilets and the whole shop, making needles pretty much doing all the crappy jobs that no one else wanted to do. For no pay. I didn’t even touch a tattoo machine for a year. But it teaches you how to survive in an industry that at the time was pretty gnarly. And I’ve been tattooing ever since. 18 years. It’s the only job I’ve ever had and if I wasn’t doing it I’d probably be digging holes for a living. 


What was your process for creating the Fruit Punch artwork? It’s hard to describe what my process is for making stuff. Because it’s pretty organic. But generally, I spend some time searching for references. For this, I probably had 5 or 6 things I’d saved to reference. Then I guess I just draw it and get a line drawing to a point where I’m happy with it. I trace it onto watercolor paper with a pen, then paint it using liquid watercolors. I almost always stuff it up a few hours into it and have to start again, but fortunately, this one went pretty smooth. Haha. 


What's a typical day like for you? A typical day for me, is my two-year-old daughter wakes me up obscenely early and we all get up and get her ready For the day. Then I head to Atomic and have a couple of coffees. It’s been a morning ritual for me for years. If I don’t get that small time for myself in the morning my whole day is stuffed up. I’m usually at the shop by around 8:30 and I do all my drawing for the day. I generally don’t draw any tattoos much in advance I think I need the pressure. I might do one or two consultations with clients in the morning, then set up my station and get ready for my first tattoo at 11 that will generally be 2 or 3 hours then another one at 2. Then depending on what time I finish, I’ll go to the gym. I train at City Lee Gar. A Muay Thai and kickboxing gym On dominion rd. That’s pretty much me, then it’s home to prep for dinner and hang out with my maniac kid until she goes to bed. Rinse, wash, repeat. 


It's fair to say your artwork/tattoos have a particular style, what inspires your artwork? My biggest inspiration is for sure the people I work with. I’m lucky to work with some of the best tattooers in the world, and it’s a constant push to make sure My work is up to par with them. My work is inspired mostly by traditional American tattooing. There is a very rich history and tradition in tattooing. That was important during my apprenticeship. My boss would make me watch these old videotapes of old tattooers over and over and it’s super important to me. So I look at a lot of tattoos or designs from that era. That’s where my tattooing sits. A lot of re-drawing really old designs and painting is a big part of traditional tattooing. I don’t have as much time to paint these days but it’s something that’s super important to me. I’m also really drawn to the 70s aesthetic. I love the architecture from that time and the furniture. And some of the subcultures. Especially like the chopper motorcycle scene. It's super grimy and I love the colour pallets and design from that era. It sounds crazy but A lot of my painting these days is inspired by 70s porn, hahaha like playboy and stuff like that. I have a ton of stuff saved I find. If anyone looked through my phone they’d probably think I was some kind of perv. Haha. Maybe I am. But I just love the aesthetic I guess


What was one of your most memorable pieces to date? Why? It’s hard to pick out a most memorable Piece because it changes so often. But I guess I recently finished a back piece of a skeleton riding a horse through a cloud of butterfly’s. That’s probably one of my favorites, but mainly because it’s on a really cool client who basically Lets me do what I want on him. 


You’re a regular at Atomic Kingsland, what's your go-to way to drink coffee? My go-to drink is a long black with cream


What's next for you and your practice? I’m just gonna keep doing what I do I guess. My little family and I are currently in the process of moving to Titirangi so I’m really looking forward to getting away from the city and spending more time painting. I haven’t had space at home to paint since my daughter was born, and I’m hoping the change will bring some new inspiration for me and I’m excited to see where it goes. 


I had a lot of fun making this artwork for fruit punch and I really appreciate the opportunity. It’s so cool that you guys are supporting locals! You can check out my Instagram @stevewood_tattoo or take a look at the shop website where you can see some of the incredible work my friends do. 


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