Don’t be Hatin’ Henry

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Additional images Henry Hate

In light of the recent release of the Fred Perry Authentic x The Amy Winehouse Foundation SS16 collection, in which the tattooist and personal friend of the late Amy Winehouse has some say on its designs, HANGER speaks with Henry Hate on all things contradictory to his adopted nickname – his love for tattooing and of course, the British musician herself.

Can you share with us one of the most memorable moments you had with Amy Winehouse?
I miss Amy and I think about her every day. She crosses my mind every day, because she touched me in a truly unique way.  My favourite moment with her… I’d have to say that it was when she came back, a week after her tattoo, and bought a toy for my dog, Jolene. She loved walking my dog, and Jolene loved her just as much. It’s a testament of what a sweet girl Amy was. My only regret is that I never thought to take a photo of the two of them together.

Which would you say is your personal favourite tattoo of hers?
I guess it would have to be the first tattoo I drew of her Nan, Cynthia. It was my Sonic Youth tattoo; a Sonic Youth look at their masterpiece, Daydream Nation, as poorly played. I guess the Cynthia pin-up tattoo was where it all started, because I drew a sketch of it in four minutes, and Amy wanted it exactly like how I drew it – untouched, crude, and simple.

You have been a tattoo artist for 20 years now. Since you moved to London from California, and subsequently, started your own tattoo parlour, Prick Tattoo Parlour, five years later. Was there a moment of epiphany, or was it a kind of gradual flow towards that direction from your past as an artist?
For me, the moment of truth came when a graffiti artist wanted my spot in the tattoo shop I was apprenticing at. I got territorial because I thought I could really be good at it. Unfortunately, art school taught me how to make art, not how to run a business. Besides, tattooing was still on the fringes of subculture, and the Internet was not really a big thing then.

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What do you like most about the people you meet in your career as a tattoo artist, and the ideas for tattoos that they have approached you with?  
Tattooing has definitely given me a thicker skin when dealing with the fine art market. I have friends who still get tattooed by me and [other] celebrity tattoo artists.  Tattooing has opened a lot of doors for me in this respect.

You have also recently gotten into fine art. Will we be seeing any other art installations?
I have big plans for my fine art work, but sometimes, it’s quite daunting to tackle something like this; it feels very much like when I first started tattooing. Some people still view tattoo artists in the same way as [how] chefs look at people who cook burgers in food trucks. But you know, that’s just another barrier to break through, and I’m still learning the ropes of things.

Why did you pick the nickname ‘Henry Hate’? Is there a significant story behind this?
When people say they ‘hate’ something, they sound more passionate about it, almost lustful, as compared to when someone says that they ‘love’ something; they often sound like they are in pain when they refer to the latter. I believe that ‘hate’ is misconstrued as passion, and it just lost its way. ‘Anger’ and ‘hate’ are confusing to some, and they often can get channelled in the right way to accomplish something great without really hurting anybody. As the saying goes, “If you hate someone for the right reason, at the right time, and for the allowed portion of time, the world would be a much better place.”

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Check out Henry Hate’s contribution to the latest Fred Perry Authentic x The Amy Winehouse Foundation SS16 collection here.