Big Meas is one of the best lettering artists out there. Starting in graffiti and transitioning into tattooing, he’s forged a huge identity and reputation, showing the world how far you can take a part of the craft that many take for granted. Chances are, you have one of his lettering guides in your studio for reference. We had a quick chat with the man behind the lettering.
Interview by James Mccauley
Photography by Big Meas
So it’s pretty well known that your early days in graffiti heavily inspired your transition into tattooing, but did you do a more traditional apprenticeship?
Yes sir. very traditional. I had to do all the tube scrubbing, trash taking out and all the other general bullshit the dudes at the shop needed me to do and they talked shit and picked on me while I did it haha.
Did you start off as more of an ‘all rounder’ or were you focusing on lettering from the very beginning?
I got into tattooing with the sole purpose of trying to push lettering as far as I could, it’s always been my passion. But in the beginning, I did have to tattoo whatever walked in the door just to pay the bills.
I have to ask, just where did the ‘Big Meas’ name come from?
Big Meas has been my graffiti moniker since 2002, so when I got into tattooing I just kinda brought that history with me. Basically, all the normal words have been taken so I got together with some guys picked some letters I liked and made a word outta it. So it legitimately doesn’t mean shit haha, but I’m proud of what its become.
You travel a lot, doing many conventions in each year. Where are your favourite places to travel to and where would you like to travel to but haven’t had the chance yet?
I want to go to Japan really bad. Actually, I’d like to see all the Asian countries because I have never been yet. 2017! I went to Athens, Greece and that is probably one of the top stops I’ve been to. Can’t wait to go back. Really like NZ as well.
What is it about tattooing at shows, other than the travel, that you love so much? So many tattooers find it difficult to tattoo in that environment.
Well man, I kinda have based my whole career around working shows. I started working shows 6 months into being a full-time tattooer. My first show was the Richmond, VA show and I got to see Jack Rudy and all these bad asses there and I was hooked. I just like to be out in the public with everyone ya know. Brushing elbows with the tattoo world I guess, and many great tattooers that aren’t necessarily popular on social media but kill it at home and come out to their local convention.
You’ve always said that BJ Betts is a big inspiration to you. What is it about his tattooing that you admire so much?
I just think BJ has helped pave the way for my generation. He was a big part, along with the older guys that he looked up to for making the public see how cool lettering can be… and he’s ridiculously good ha!
Who are some of your other inspirations?
Dave Smith, Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete, Grime, Freddy Corbin, the list could really go on forever.
What outside of tattooing do you draw inspiration from?
Sign painting for sure. Old money. Gothic architecture, hot rod/lowrider art, lots of stuff like that.
What are your interests outside of tattooing, art and work?
I love old cars/trucks, motorcycles, drag racing and motocross. Pretty much into anything with a motor. I’ve been known to get out and paint a wall here n there as well.
Which machines are you using the most at the moment?
I have a really sick Xam the Spaniard machine I use that and a Norm liner on just about every tattoo for linework. I use a Dan Kubin rotary for shading and I love that thing a tonne. I recommend them all.
I’m sure many of the people reading this interview will be familiar with your lettering guides and have them in their studios. We do! They’ve always been great to show people just how cool lettering can be, that might not have considered it. How did you find the process of putting the book and the DVD together? Your work sold around the globe!
Man, the book thing turned into something that I never even thought that it would haha. They sell to shops and tattooers from all around the globe and that’s pretty humbling man. The books weren’t super hard to put together because I draw all the time so that wasn’t too bad. The DVD however, was an insane process. Lots of things that I don’t normally do like recording voice overs in the recording studio and stuff like that. Both well worth it though and cool to be able to give back to tattooing a little.
Lastly, could you tell us your favourite story from your time in tattooing or travelling?
There’s so many good stories man so i definitely cannot even begin to narrow that down to one single story and some there’s no way I would share or, I’ve been sworn to secrecy. But I will say I was on an island off the coast of Greece this past summer with a few tattooer buddies and we were trying to charter a boat out to swim but all the places were closed because the water was too rough. They said it was too unsafe for us. Well, as we were leaving some old pirate approached us and said he would take us out for $20 so we were like…sick! So he takes us out on this super sketchy little boat and we went into a few caves and swam in some insanely clear and blue water. I’ve never seen anything like it. On the way back we got in some pretty rough water but over all, it was an amazing day.
Just want to say thanks to everyone for all of the support over the years and to all the lettering guys that came before me and will come after me. RESPECT. Also be on the lookout for SACRED HAND TATTOO SOCIETY opening this October in Columbus, Ohio!
You can find more about Big Meas at: