Inkerviews > Tattoo Artists > Timothy B. Boor Interview


Inkerviews features the work of tattoo artists and collectors, as well as fine artists, in a series of interviews. With an exciting lineup already in place and endless more to come, I hope you will check back often to read about these incredible people and enjoy their visually stunning talents.

Step inside of the imaginative world of Timothy Boor and you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful surrealistic designs. Whether on skin, paper, or canvas, his ability to weave realistic elements amongst creative juxtapositions makes his portfolio an adventure to dive into; while meeting the person behind the talent will only make you appreciate him that much more. Kind, sincere, and humble, Tim is a true treasure in the tattoo industry.

It’s not surprising that his professional journey has led him to such artistic destinations, as he has been interested in art for as long as he can remember. He grew up mesmerized by painting shows on television and luckily, had an intuitive mom who saw his talent early on and got him started taking oil painting classes at the young age of 10. Once he was introduced to the work of Renaissance and Baroque masters, there was no turning back in his desire to learn more; while soon thereafter, finding the Surrealistic movement caused Tim to delve into art like never before.

Boor’s paintings are spellbinding and full of colorful surrealistic qualities, with symbolism and parables intertwined. And his graphite black and grey work features realism at it’s finest, always with those special “Tim Boor” touches prominently displayed. Lucky for ink collectors, Tim has taken his talent to the tattoo machine as well, where you will find this same outstanding blend of colorful realism and surrealism, with brilliant blends and true character throughout.

Most are stunned to learn that Tim has only been tattooing for four years, as his work shows signs of a seasoned veteran, not to mention that he resides at one of the most famous tattoo shops in the world, the one-and-only Last Rites, owned by legendary tattoo artist Paul Booth. He has been a full-time tattoo artist at Last Rites for almost a year now, after landing the gig when Booth put out a call for a new color-focused artist. Tim loves his newfound home in New York City and even more so, loves the atmosphere at Last Rites and the creative team that he works with each day, calling the guys there his “best friends” and lovingly referring to them as “one big happy dysfunctional family.”

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to Tim and learn more about his journey as a tattoo artist and painter. I think that you will find that beyond his work, he is sincerely a kind, down-to-earth guy who loves what he does and appreciates each opportunity that has come his way. This husband and father definitely has his priorities straight and I am certain that he has nothing but a bright and successful future ahead of him in all that he does. I hope you enjoy reading about him as much I enjoyed chatting. Cheers!

Have you always been interested in art? Do you remember drawing and creating a lot as a kid?

Yes, I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I used to watch TV shows like “Commander Mark’s Draw Squad” and “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross," every day. I recall winning a bunch of coloring contests at restaurants when I was a kid. My mother recognized my interest in art and signed me up for oil painting lessons from a teacher at a local gallery at the age of 10. I loved it! I was mainly copying landscape paintings and learning the groundwork of oils. It all really started there.

When did you realize that you wanted to become an artist and make it your career?

I don’t actually remember the day that I decided that I wanted to make art my career. I just always have. As I got older, my passion for art grew and became more serious. The day I got introduced to the works by the great masters of the Renaissance and Baroque eras really lit the fire in me to grow and try to push myself to that level. Then my mind seriously opened to a whole new way of expression once I became aware of the art from the Surrealism movement.  

You have such an amazing understanding of color theory and other imperative art principles. I’m assuming that you have an educational background in art. Can you tell us about it and about some of your journey in becoming such an accomplished tattoo artist?

I don’t have any formal training, really. I am mostly self taught. Other than a couple years of oil painting lessons as a child and a 10-day workshop in Florence, Italy a few years back, it came mainly from books and studying the art of great artists. I got accepted into an art college out of high school, but decided not to go because the schools within my reach didn’t seem to have a focus on realism. I was interested in the classical academic approach to painting and was not finding schools that catered to that genre. 

When did you learn to tattoo? Did you have a formal apprenticeship? How many years have you been a tattoo artist now?

A good friend of mine had decided to open a tattoo shop. He himself did not tattoo but was approached by a tattoo artist to open a shop in a building that my friend owned. We had played in a few bands together and he also knew that I was an artist. Therefore, he asked me if I would be interested in learning to tattoo. I worked in a factory at the time so I decided to give it a try, a couple of hours a week after work. That is where my first apprenticeship began. It was pretty short-lived. It mainly consisted of the basic intro stuff and lasted about six months, during which time I did a handful of small tattoos and got the general idea. I ended up quitting because I didn’t feel like I was learning the tools I needed to do the type of art I was interested in doing. I felt very limited.

A few years later, I decided to give it another try under an artist named Bradley Pearce. I was laid off work right as the offer came so I jumped on the chance to learn from him. I knew he was skilled in multiple styles and could teach me what I needed to learn in order to pursue my desire to do realism. This still only lasted about 10 months. I got called back to work and the long factory hours, along with having my first-born child, Chloe, made it too hard to balance it all out. A few years later I was offered a buy-out by the company I worked for and I took it. It gave me enough money to get by until I could build up my cliental and survive as a tattooist. Since then, I have been a full-time tattooist for almost four years. I know it’s a pretty long story but there were many stopping points along the way.

Your portraits are so exceptional. How many years have you worked in the realism genre?  What is your favorite type of piece to design and tattoo?

I started out wanting to be a cartoonist, but I have been into realistic styles of art from an early age. Like I said earlier, I was copying realism landscape painting from the age of 10. I remember copying pictures of album covers on my friends notebooks in middle school. I must have drawn Axle Rose 80 times!

My favorite type of tattoos to create is concept-driven pieces. I love it when a client gives me an emotion or a story with meaning that I can interpret visually. Something that I can get really creative with and turn into a tattoo that we both love.

One of the coolest features about your work is that while you are so skilled in realism, you also add this great surrealistic element to your designs and it really makes your work stand out. How do you think this style developed?

It developed from many different ways: from poetry, to Shakespeare, to the art of Dali. I have always been drawn to art and written works with a meaning or story to be deciphered. I love using symbolism, metaphors, and analogies to convey meaning. I enjoy having to figure things out a bit and use my mind instead of everything being flat-out and spelled out for me. I feel as though it allows the viewer to be more of a part of the art. Like they can get their own experience of what it means to them. Even though it may not be the meaning I had in mind, I like allowing them to feel it out for themselves a bit. I always try to think of things in a different way and I usually scrap my first ideas because they seem too obvious.

When you plan a piece out, do you incorporate those elements of surrealism into the design or does it just progress as you tattoo?

A little bit of both, but mostly preplanned. I tend to spend some time working through these types of ideas before committing them to skin. I want them to end up having an overall grace and flow. Some tattoos don’t lend themselves as well to that style, but I love it when they do!

You are now working at the world-renowned Last Rites Tattoo Theatre with Paul Booth and an amazing crew. How long have you been at Last Rites and how did this opportunity come about?

I have worked at Last Rites for almost a year now. A good friend and fellow artist, Ryan Hadley, offered me the opportunity to do a guest spot with him at Last Rites and I accepted, of course. I didn’t end up tattooing much but worked on an oil painting at one of the stations over the three days I was there. I really loved the shop and got along with Paul and all of the crew really well. I even got to participate in an Art Fusion for the “Flesh to Canvas” art show. A few months later I was informed by a fellow artist that Last Rites was looking to hire a new artist who leaned more toward color tattooing. I sent in my portfolio and got the call about three months later. Needless to say, I was very honored and excited by the opportunity to work along side of these guys.

How do you like living in NYC? Do you live in the city and how is it different than life was in Indiana?

I love NYC now. As for the differences, um…EVERYTHING! My hometown of Kokomo, Indiana has a huge population of 45,000 compared to NYC’s measly 8 million. Kokomo is a factory town. A 4-way stop in a cornfield compared to NYC. Classic small town boy moves to the big city scenario. The idea of someday living in NYC scared the hell out of me. In Kokomo, NYC is characterized as a place that you get mugged and shot within 10 minutes of stepping off the plane. Busy and slam packed with people. But I instantly loved it. NYC has an energy like no other place on earth.

Can you tell us what it’s like working at Last Rites and what the creative atmosphere of the shop is like?

Last Rites is amazing! Paul has really geared the shop to inspire creativity and be a pleasing environment for artists to work. Yes, it would be described as dark and creepy, but it is surprisingly comforting. Not to mention that the artists who I work with are exceptional, to say the least. I have already grown as an artist from my short experience so far. We have a lot of fun! So, Paul occasionally shoots blow darts at us while we are tattooing, but I’m sure all bosses do the same. I’ve only been hit twice. He actually has ninja-type aim with that thing! These guys have become my best friends and we are like one big happy dysfunctional family!

In addition to your stellar tattoo work, you are also an outstanding painter. When did you begin painting? How often do you find time to work on art that isn’t skin-related?

I began oil painting at the age of ten. I took a few years off from art in my teenage years because I got heavily into playing instruments and music, so didn’t draw much. I wish I had spent more time painting now, but in between tattooing and raising three kids it gets a bit difficult to find the time. I try to fit it in as much as I can. Every day on the train to work I do what I like to call “visceral drawing.” Basically, it’s drawing without thinking. I try to clear my mind of any preconceived idea of what the drawing must be or end up looking like and just be free to create any and all things that might come naturally. It’s a creative/inspirational type of exercise that gets me warmed up.

 What are your favorite types of mediums to work with?  Do you take on commissioned work?

My favorite medium is definitely oil painting. I also enjoy digital art. It is an easy way to get ideas down quick without carrying a paint set everywhere. I used to do graphic design work for DaimlerChrysler and a few website developers there got me interested in digital art. I’ve recently been trying to learn to work with acrylics too. At Last Rites we do at least one Art Fusion painting a month in front of a crowd at gallery openings. We use acrylics because they dry quickly and fit the scenario best. So I’ve had a trial-by-fire type of learning experience with acrylics.

Other than that, I like regular graphite, colored pencil, and would love to get back into sculpture.

Do you have plans to travel much this year to work conventions or guest spots? If so, where can collectors find you? Do you still have appointments available?

Yes, I have a few things lined up. I will be participating in the New York Tattoo Convention, as well as Miami Tattoolapalooza; Paradise Gathering in MA; Hell City in Arizona; St. Louis Old School Expo, and I have a guest spot at Off the Map in East Hampton, MA in July. I might have a few more, but nothing confirmed yet. I do still have openings here and there for the shows.

Do you have any favorite machines that you have been using lately? What about inks?

Yes, I have been using the Hawk rotary machine for a few years now. I also have a few Neo-tat machines that I like a lot. I am experimenting with a few coils now too. I like lightweight machines and there are a few out there now that I want to try. As for inks, I mainly use Eternal, Intenze, Dynamic Black, and Silverback. I have a few Fusion and Alla Prima inks that are great too. I’m always trying out new colors. I am a little bit over the top with my ink collection. I was always the kid with the big crayon box.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of tattooing?

Hanging out with my wife and kids. I also play guitar, bass, drums, and sing in a few recording projects with fellow musician friends of mine.

What are some of your goals for the coming year?

My goals are always the same - to continuously improve and grow artistically and become the best artist I can be. I feel like I am in a permanent mindset of learning, possibly a bit obsessive even. I am my own worst critic. I am so aware of other artists, both past and present, that destroy me. Yet that same thing is what drives me.

I want my art to go more into the surrealism realm that I enjoy so much. I love realism, portraits and the like but I want to do more custom work.  

What one word best describes you? What one word best describes your work?

That’s a hard one. Maybe…driven.

I feel really inspired right now. Like I am in the cocoon phase of developing my art and getting ready to bust out the wings.

As for my work, who knows? I’ll leave that up to others to decide.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming tattooists?

Learn, learn, learn! One of my favorite sayings is, “ The wisest man on earth is only wise by first knowing that he does not know it all.” Always be open to learning from others. I have had a lot of great artists along the way help me out. Also, find artists whose work fits the style of art you wish to do yourself, get tattooed by them, and pay attention. Most artists are pretty cool about letting you pick their brain. Also, as corny as it sounds, believe in yourself and work you ass off to get what you want. I am from a nowhere town in Indiana and now work for Last Rites. All is possible!

Any final words for Jinxi Boo readers?

In the immortal words of the great Bob Ross:

“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe. People might look at you a bit funny, but it’s okay. Artists are allowed to be a bit different.”


Last updated on May 9, 2012 by Jinxi Boo