Artist Spotlight: Inkproof

CBP Artist Q&A: Inkproof

Every once in a while there’s an artist who can cross mediums like it’s a completely natural thing, and Chris Allen aka Inkproof is one of those artists. A sought after tattoo artist currently inking folks over at Twilight Tattoo in Minneapolis, Allen’s work expands far beyond the flesh into murals, paintings, album art, live painting and more. We recently chatted with the creative whiz on his work, his influences, and how he uses social media to bring his work to the public eye.

You seem to be a man of many stripes and artistic mediums. How did your work evolve?

I definitely try to be. Although, at times the fact that I draw, paint, tattoo, and the rest of it can be points against me. For instance, I like to rock all types of styles and mediums and they all feed each other… however- I don’t have that ONE style and reoccuring theme in my paintings. Also, I can’t obviously have a reoccuring theme in my tattoos, except my “style” as people see it. I made a conscious choice about 7 years ago, to do my art full time. As scary as that was, I almost HAD to do all types of styles and mediums just to feed myself and make the client happy. A necessary evil in a way. (haaa) I did start with drawing, graffiti being the main subject matter. That was junior high/high school when I really buried my face in the paper or black book and started drawing letter styles. It grew from there. Painting, to murals, to CD covers, and in the past 5 years…tattooing.

Your work has a kind of street art edge with classic tattoo art influences. Can you tell us a little bit your artistic style and what/who influenced it?

Wow, I like that description of my work! I hear all kinds of things, but that’s different. Dope. Yes, I grew up surrounded by buildings and concrete streets in Maryland/DC area. So, graffiti and urban influence has been in my brain since day one. I’ve been a true Hip-Hop head since I was about 8 also. Although I listen to all kinds of music while doing my art, good Hip-Hop is always the first in rotation. With graffiti and drawing characters as a base for my “style” I guess it’s always been engrained in the work I do. My work has definitely changed over the years though, and especially after I got into tattooing. There’s no way to evolve as an artist without blending influences and styles around me, and especially as a tattoo artist. You can’t be a well rounded artist, and just repeat the same color palettes or designs. I guess some have done it, but it grows old pretty quick. I have A LOT of artists I’ve looked up to over the years. From Michelangelo, to Basquiat, to Greg Simkins (Craola) or Retna. Too many names to mention! I’d like to believe that all of these artists have influenced my work at some point or another, just by studying what they do or have done. My eyes are always peeled.

What was your favorite piece of art to work on (tattoo, painting, mural, live show, or otherwise)?

Man!! That’s not easy at all to answer. My favorite piece of work I have done…Very hard to say. I’m not one of these artists that hates everything I do, and just throws paintings away. To me, artists make work for people to appreciate, right? Not everyone will, and that’s just the way it should be. There are pieces I’ve loved for various reasons, whether it be with a musician I worked with or just an internal emotion at the time. I’d have to say one of the most challenging pieces was the Michelangelo rendition I had to paint for a commission job this past Fall/Winter. I looked at it like “Ok, well there’s no way in hell that I can come close to the original piece.. so I’ll do me and try my best to put my touch on it without taking away the integrity of the original”. After about 40 hours of work on it over a month and a half, I had the finished painting. Pretty sure the client was happy, which was the goal.

How do you use social media/web to promote your work? How have you noticed it help your business/public awareness directly?

Social media is a necessary evil also! We all have computers, phones, and can check out people’s work anytime we want, right? I can never complain about it, because it has helped me tremendously. The key is using it properly, and not flooding the internet with your work so that people just don’t wanna see your name anymore. Twitter, Facebook, and my site have always been huge helps for my career. Again, I just have to promote my ass off being an independent artist and that’s fine. It’s all part of the hustle. I DO think some people have lost the sense of hitting the pavement, going client to client and face to face to promote. I did that for the first four or so years of my career. Still do, when I can. People coming to me for tattoos based solely off word of mouth or after seeing my work, is really cool too. People that know me, know I’m a promoting whore sometimes and I’m totally okay with that. I just don’t wanna become “too much” of one!

Do you have anything coming up we should know about? Where can people find you/your artwork?

Actually, I have some projects in the works that I can’t speak on yet but I’m really amped about them! Tattooing and commissioned paintings are keeping me crazy busy for now. Possibly a solo gallery show soon too.. My work can be seen at or come visit at Twilight Tattoo.

For more information, follow Inkproof on Facebook and Twitter or visit his portfolio site.