For our readers who haven't heard of the Godoy Twins, could you each give us a brief description of who you are?
-- Well, there's a lot to tell… we are identical twins, bilingual - English and Spanish, we were born in Mexico City and lived in Venezuela, Puerto Rico as kids - because our dad was from Argentina and always was handling business in Latin America. Though, we have lived mostly on the east coast USA since we turned 6 years old, we have had the travel bug since we were kids and it has stayed with us to this day. We have been tattooing since 1985, were pro skateboarders, from the Tony Hawk generation. We were rated 15th or 16th out of 75 professionals on the pro circuit. We are also punk rock musicians. We play with Deniz Tek, founder of Radio Birdman, we have been playing with him for over 19 years!! We also founded the Exploding Fuck Dolls with Duane Peters, we have toured as members of the Vibrators, Gary Lammin, The Visitors reunion… We tattooed EXCLUSIVELY Julia Gnuse, the Guiness Book of World Records' most tattooed woman. We have been in tons of magazines and TV- Guiness Prime Time, You Asked For it, Pro Sieben (Germany), Fuera de Serie (spanish speaking countries), Larry King Live… and More. We hold 4 international patents on coil and tube vice technology and one for a totally revolutionary health compliant power supply. We wrote a book called Tattoo Machines & their Secrets which was translated into 6 languages and copyrighted - this industry text book was then made into an ebook so tattoo artists from ANYWHERE could pay and download it. Security was cracked and the book was illegally downloaded over 990,000 times from torrent sites - and that was just the English version! We started our machine company with the goal to improve and perfect the electromagnetic tattoo machine. It evolved into the trajectory of raising standards in the industry. We believe that education is imperative in this business… so we offer everything any artist of any level needs to be the best AND to protect the industry from frauds, myths, superstitions and bootleggers. We teach seminars globally on tattoo machines. Art owns Funhouse Tattooing in Vancouver Canada and Steve work for Kari Barba at Outer Limits Tattoo in Orange California. We are accredited with being the "godfathers" of marrying the skateboarding and tattooing lifestyles as documented in the Bart Saric film "Skinned Alive".
What introduced you into the tattoo world - age, time, influences? Was it something where you both decided to do it at the same time or one went into it first?
-- We moved to the USA at 6 years old. That move was integral in how we turned out and how we perceived the world. We moved to Lancaster Pennsylvania. That town was very conservative and clannish. We were victimized by prejudice against 'foreigners'… as spanish speakers we did not fit in even though we spoke perfect English as well! So, as you can see, we were perfectly set up to be into individual lifestyles and forms of expression - what could say "fuck you" better to the world than not being part of it? skateboarding, punk rock and tattooing! As for the tattooing, we were exposed to the Cockney Rejects record "the Power and the Glory" which depicted them on the back cover showing their tattoos. We were around 15… maybe it was 1982. We are started skateboarding in 1976, and got into the original British punk from 1977 - after being into KISS…hahahaha, and that was exactly the time period we started to come into our own… these lifestyles really spoke to us!! skateboarding taught us 'individuality', Punk taught us 'rebellion' and tattooing taught us 'creativity, self expression and freedom'. Nothing else could compare. Team sports? no way… We have always had an attitude to be individuals and non conformists from an early age. We started together… did everything together.
Was it hard to get tattooed when you were younger?
-- It was hard to get tattooed. It was 18 and over. We had done tons of home made tattoos on ourselves in 84… so since we were already 'tattooed' we could get em done. There weren't that many shops in Dallas Texas, where we had moved to… let's go back a bit.. we were in Pennsylvania til we got kicked out of school in 82 when we moved to Mexico City with our dad. Skating all over the place.. totally on our own. We moved to Dallas where we got sponsored for skateboarding in 1983. We carried our attitude with us and our musical soundtrack… we ended up back in Pennsylvania for the last 6 months of high school…went back to Dallas in 84 / 85 where we started to get professional tattoos from local artists ( Robert Hackney, Ken Cameron and a guy named 'Patrick") and started tattooing ourselves with professional equipment. … and as pro skaters, we would take our per diem money and get tattooed wherever we travelled for contests and demos.. and surprisingly, age restrictions were observed by these old school shops.
Do you think that the difference of availability has changed what it means to get tattooed?
-- Availability? We think that society generally "moves" when things are acceptable. It's not surprising that it has boomed!! It is totally 'SAFE' to get tattooed now. When we started getting tattooed, it was not, we were the most heavily tattooed skateboarders from our generation and our sales in the market showed it. Market research showed that the mothers of 14 year old kids were buying the boards so the companies didn't see value in marketing tattooed punk rock twins. You see, we didn't care about what was acceptable and we would have done it regardless. Now, tattooing is readily available for anybody, any style is available to anybody… along with this has come a lack of ethics in the industry - health compliance, suppliers selling to 'just anyone', … what does it mean to get tattooed now? I don't think things have changed that much.. i think more options as far as artistic availability are greater and better, as far as being a rebellious statement, that is not so much of an issue - unless you are getting full facial tattoos or gang tattoos. There are still pockets in the USA where tattooing is still taboo… but not as off limits as it was when we were growing up.
Were you creative kids - did you draw and create when you were young?
-- We have always been creative. We have our mom to thank for that. Whenever we'd bitch about being bored, she'd put a pencil in our hands and tell us - "draw!" We would do crafts, wood carving.. clay, sculpting.. paper mache!! We built ramps to skate… we painted our ramps and skateboard decks.. so, yes we have always been creative.
Was it inevitable but with skating and music as your passions from an early age that tattoos would some way work themselves into the mix?
-- It was inevitable with the music we were into. You could see the evolution from rebelling with spiky hair and spiked wristbands and listening to the Sex Pistols, to being more extreme - shaved heads and tattoos… getting tattoos was next and then DOING tattoos. For us, it seemed to be meant to be. We never wavered. We have been listening to the same music for decades, been skateboarding for the same and tattooing also… we have serious credentials as a result of these passions. The mix of these things were easily absorbed because of the fact that we were misfits in this world.. when in reality, the conformist pigs were the misfits in OUR world.. most kids were scared to rebel or be different or thin for themselves. It was not an option… our roots, our filters and our determination helped us to accept and embrace these lifestyles and persevere and succeed in each one. We redefined these lifestyles to suit OUR needs, we made our own rules - as we didn't conform to those established punk rock and skate standards either…
How did you become tattooists - did you follow a traditional apprentice? together/apart etc?
-- We decided that tattooing was something we wanted to learn and excel in. We tried for apprenticeships but due to our extensive travel schedules as professionals skateboarders, we couldn't commit to a full time apprenticeship. We tattooed each other, learning all we could by watching the artists that tattooed us. We watched technique, we observed sterile practices, we did the best we could ON EACH OTHER before we practiced on friends. We are totally self taught.
Which artists inspire your work?
-- None now, currently each other, in the past, we have always liked the work of Greg Irons. He was doing tattoos on tattoos! Fine lines! that was what we liked - precision, realism. We liked the original black and grey guys too like Jack Rudy, Mark Mahoney… most of the others seemed rudimentary to us. I'm talking about 'then'. Now, there are a lot of impressive artists. We have taken more of an interest in our machine innovations over artistic inspiration in tattooing. After 28 years tattooing, our interests are a bit different than they were in the early days. Many old inspirations have become very distant upon re inspection. The obsolescence of certain old school mentalities and styles, the realization that we had been disillusioned by their mystiques so now it's about finding value in our own endeavours - inventions, innovations and so on.
What drove you to develop your own machines?
-- The drive to develop our machines was a result of the dissatisfaction we had with machines we would buy from reputable companies, not to mention boredom. The real reason we found for the dissatisfaction was our own ignorance at the time. We used to listen to other artists who were more experienced yet we couldn't understand why their work was so substandard. We have played with our machines for a very long time. The development of our machines was sort of accidental. Trying ideas and then perfecting them. Simply at first and then more and more complex! Building a better mouse trap. We started to understand magnetic field and permeability, we got a real grasp for spring tension in combination with stroke… type of wire and specific gauges and turns on a variety of coil geometry and alloys - enough to saturate the coil at lower voltages. It was our need for knowledge too, to figure out the whys and hows of the machine's function and to logically and scientifically resolve how we can apply that toward techniques like super fine lines, smooth giant patches of even greys with the machine staying cool, without loss of power, without skips. Just smooth consistency.
Do you feel there is a lack of understanding and knowledge from some sections of the tattoo community about the importance of good machines and treating them well?
-- Lack of understanding in SOME sections? Try all sections! The lack of knowledge is blatantly obvious in this industry from the top to the bottom. Two plus two doesn't equal four in this business. There is so much superstition and myth, people barking up the wrong trees. Standard business models do not work in tattooing, Customers are not always right! Complaints about the Chinese coming in and selling their cheap products. suppliers who are not accountable for the products they sell, artists thinking the supplier knows about what he sells… when the real problem is ignorant artist population. Artists like to complain and act like they know… a good machine? define that… is it brand name? NO, there are specific manufacturers who have a 'name' who tattoo like 10 year old kids.. obviously they do not understand artistic technique, they have no clue on how to make a machine do what is needed, much less set up a machine to be able to handle this! A good machine?? the bottom line is that any electromagnetic tattoo machine CAN BE MADE INTO A GOOD MACHINE. Understand function, understand components, specifications… parallelism. There are basic characteristics a machine needs to be 100%. The goals is to understand this and it's relation to technique and modify it to YOUR needs and NOT to have to adapt to whatever you buy out of the box. Do not accept that the machine you buy are already set up. Who built it? who sells it? do they really know what YOU need, and what the machine needs to do to be able to facilitate your artistic technical requirements?
Artists can control the industry, we can decide who stays and who goes and who will be let in. There are a lot of people coming into OUR industry who's credentials are questionable. We say OUR industry because there are people getting involved just to make money, who do not tattoo, who have not paid their dues in this business. Just because a supplier can buy bulk Chinese products and re sell them DOES NOT mean that he knows anything about what he sells.
The ignorance of the magazines trying to create and define the 'tattoo culture' as a bunch of freaks dressed as 1950's ghouls with day of the dead paint on their faces taking pictures in a graveyard, is so off the mark… these 'tattoo lifestyle' magazines, and in fact almost all the tattoo industry magazines show pictures of artists tattooing without bags on their machines and 99% of artists look at that photo and think that this is a normal and acceptable STANDARD just because they see it in the magazines! … IT IS NOT! It is NOT health compliant. This art depends on science and physics - technical and mechanical systems - and the observance of health conscious procedures because the clients ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENTS in our equation. They come into shops innocently to get tattooed and are sometimes greeted with egos and attitudes, sold on images that are substandard, are dissuaded from their original ideas because the artist is not competent to do the job THE WAY THE CLIENT WANTS IT, occasionally he tattoos them with untuned machines and unrefined amateurism.
This is a customer service job, it is a minor surgery and as such there is no room for 'tattoo kits' or any kind of 'entry level' apparatus. Sadly, it's there, it's everywhere and magazines advertise full page ads from suppliers who sell these types of 'kits', who sell these amateurs their new identities… ads in these mags for clothing that says 'bitch' or 'tattooed white trash', is this what we as 'professional artists' want to be associated with? The reality is that suppliers do not have to be accountable for what they sell. They do not take responsibility to understand the products they carry, it's not their job. Pigment recalls, needles which may have several different types of tapers in one grouping. They accept returned machines sometimes covered in biohazard from clients who do not bag their machines, and re sell them. NOT ALL DO THIS, THERE ARE SOME HOWEVER WHO DO… Yet the artist puts his complete faith in these suppliers. Come on, really? it's an epidemic and the fucked thing is that there are huge numbers of artists who do not care because they are so busy grooming their images and maintaining their egos that they do not even know that there is a problem, those who do realize there is a problem don't know what it is or how to attack it! We are clients of suppliers as well, we buy pigments, we buy loose needles and make our own groupings, we are concerned about quality and safety. We control the tightness of our needle groupings instead of conforming to a "Chinese standard" as the are the ones selling pre made inconsistent groupings...We try not to buy from anyone who is not part of the solution. We have done tons of interviews stating these facts. Because of tattooing's growth in popularity, it's huge earning potential and the immediate 'rock star' status an artist gets, tons of new beginners are entering our work force. They are being sold products without a second thought by suppliers who do not see the harm in it. There is a fine line between lack of understanding and blatantly ignoring what is really going on. No magazines had the balls to print any of our interviews because they didn't want our content to offend their full page advertisers, their back cover advertisers or anyone who supported these types of ethics knowingly or un knowingly, NOR did THEY THEMSELVES want to be called out on the substandard ethics they help to perpetuate.
Do you tattoo when touring or is their a segregation between the many sections of your life?
-- we tattoo at our respective shops. We tattoo 6 days a week so when we go on the road, we don't tattoo. We would rather just play music or do seminars. We separate these sections of our lives because realistically it's hard to be operating at 100% when you are doing too many things at one time.
Do you always work together when tattooing or have their been times/years when you've been and worked apart?
-- We live a 3 hr plane flight apart… so physically we work together when we get together, on building machine runs and physically designing new prototypes. When we are not in the same place, we talk on the phone everyday working discussing ideas and plans. When we get together these days, we don't always tattoo. Our whole lives, we did everything together, skateboarding tattooing and playing in whatever bands we are in.
Do you find your art and tattoo styles are similar not matter what you're working on?
-- yeah, they are very similar. There are slight differences, but they're very similar. Our approach to tattooing is not as planned out as it is for some, we draw on the skin with a pen… lots of freehand work. Our clientele knows that that's how we roll. We also do lots of realism, cover ups and real small detailed work that most people would not touch.
You've really had a full life, you seem to have taken on everything you can, what passions continue to drive you?
-- haha, it's true, we have also taken on more than we can sometimes. The passions that we've had as misfit kids, which had formed our personalities and characters continue to drive us. These things are ingrained in us at such a deep level that we can't sell out. They give us drive and direction. We still love to skate and surf. We love to tattoo and be creative in music. We love to travel and see new places. We love to teach machine seminars that actually teach and gain great satisfaction when we see people 'get it!'. We love to tour and play music! All these things have brought us so much satisfaction and success. We do not define success as monetary gain, we define it as happiness and fulfilment. We have a world full of friends and artists on the same page who want to make positive changes in the industry, seeing people like Brett Fischer and his family, from 2Evolve tattoo supply in Cape Town, do what they do for tattooing further motivates us!! We get inspiration from so many things.