We speak with Ed Crooks and Peter Falkous of the zine, Still Life. Crooks and Falkous discuss the origins of the project, the motivations that helped to create and currently sustain the zine, and the place of print media within the world of tattooing. Still Life 2 was released this week and will soon be available for purchase on TTTISM.
Who began Still Life? Who are the current team members?
Ed: It was my thing, I thought about it for a few years. I wanted to do a more personal print zine—originally a tattooist friend of mine was going to be involved but never did. I then just cracked on with it, interviewing Chad Koeplinger and Alex Reinke, but then ended up getting super busy and put it on hold. I happened to get involved with Peter Falkous, who has been incredible as I'm not great at computer design—he designed issue one and is designing issue two right now and printing it through his company, Static Age. So it’s basically me and Peter, no one else.
Pete: I have no idea how me and Ed got in touch but think it was over Instagram. Here we are finishing off issue 2 and I am sure more to come. It has been pretty easy as far as sorting everything out: Ed does all the hard work and I get to put it together and send it to print. We both came from the same era of magazines, design, skateboarding, and music. Tattooing is something we both love so all together it’s a pretty good mix.
Could you describe the origins of the zine? How did the project begin?
Ed:I’ve always been an indie zine guy. I have done a hardcore fanzine for years in which runs in print and online called Droid Rage. I’ve always loved zines and magazines in general. I used to get Rad (which turned into Sidewalk Surfer) delivered for years and years, and also horror mags and anything else that sparked interest. So doing the tat zine was something I thought about a lot in a sense that I liked the idea that someone could get tattooed in a shop and afterwards they could pick up my zine cheap and just go back home and have a read.
Tattoo by Claudia de Sabe (Still Life 2)
Tattoo by Ichibay (Still Life 2)
Tattoo by Ganji (Still Life 2)
Tattoo by Ruby May Quilter (Still Life 2)
From the outset was there a clear goal in founding Still Life? What motivated you to begin the zine and what influence would you like your work to have on the tattoo community?
Ed: My main motivation was to have a zine anyone could pick up at a reasonable price that had some artists which not everyone who's collecting knows about at that time—to open their eyes to the way I like tattoos and the mix that interests me the most. One thing with Still Life is that most of the artists have similar interests to me and to each other, like Chad Koeplinger: he is a huge hardcore fan and collects records to a certain degree. Same with Ant The Elder—a big hardcore fan who is also straight edge like myself. Then of course there are artists that do Japanese, which is my absolute favorite tattoo style and culture. As for my influence, I don't think I have one; it’s more for me seeing all the stuff I like mixed together in a zine and ideally having other tattooists be like, “oh, I never realized Alex Reinke was a huge Star Wars fan,” or, with the toy designers, having people be like, “oh shit that stuff is rad, how do I obtain that? I never knew it existed.”
How do you understand your place within the world of tattooing? How would you like to see that world develop?
Ed: My place in the tattoo world is as a passionate collector who's is spending his time collecting and learning about tattoos, tattoo culture, and different artists…maybe getting to know the ones I like a bit more than a normal person would. I have already worked in the tattoo industry as a shop manager. But the shop setting is not my industry and I decided not to progress any further there.
Pete: I love the tattoo world and have made so many friends from it and that alone has been more than I expected from the zine, but I don’t see me having a place in the tattoo world other than doing projects like this and collecting more over the years as well as making new friends.
Cory Michael Privitera (Still Life 2)
"I think tattooists and tattoo collectors spend an awful amount of time looking on the internet on phones, and so forth, but tattooing has a massive history in paper print form...Still Life is an easy to read, no-stress publication that can be picked up and looked at whenever, really. I think print is massively important—it’s always there to go back to and it’s in hand."
Figure by Cory Michael Privitera (Still Life 2)
Tattoo by Steve Morante (Still Life 2)
Who are some of the people you’ve collaborated with so far and are there any notable forthcoming collaborations?
Pete: I wish I could say right now but I am sorting out a few really exciting projects with a few tattoo artists and, fingers crossed, details will be out by end of the year! But it’s hard to juggle a full-time job, family, and a load of other interests while still making anything happen quickly.
Do you have plans to produce any different media or other products in the future?
Ed: Not sure yet, anything is possible… I'm really enjoying doing Still Life and have some great artists in the pipeline for issue 3, so for now that’s it for me.
Pete: I would like to see a series of books and zines focused on one artist with sketches, photos, and whatever else the artist is into. I am working on a skateboard documentary and would love to do the same for tattooing but maybe a few years down the line.
Still Life, and the zine format more generally, are notable for retaining an emphasis on print in an increasingly digital era. What, for you, is the place of print culture in tattoo-related media?
Ed: I think tattooists and tattoo collectors spend an awful amount of time looking on the internet on phones, and so forth, but tattooing has a massive history in paper print form—as well as in flash and other reference material. I think Still Life is an easy to read, no-stress publication that can be picked up and looked at whenever, really. I think print is massively important—it’s always there to go back to and it’s in hand.
Pete: Regardless of tattooing or not, print will never disappear: people like the aesthetics of holding and owning something real. I don’t know one tattoist who doesn’t collect, books, magazines, zines, prints, and paintings. The digital has its place in the world but print will always be part of it as well and especially for the tattoo industry I think print will always be a big part of the culture.