Austin Spencer gets a lot of ideas. He has one of those rapid-fire brains. Not all his ideas turn into something, but this one—Tattoo Fight Club—exploded into a phenomenon on its own.
Spencer and his family own and operate Studio 21 Tattoo, a popular local ink shop that celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year. Last year, based only on some fun sketching sessions with another artist, Spencer launched an Instagram feed for Tattoo Fight Club, basically an interactive drawing competition for tattooers to hone their skills and get creative. It took off. Today it has more than 50,000 followers, fans and artists who want to battle it out online, and Spencer is ready to take the next step.
“We’ve created this huge following of people and now we’re kind of forced to do something,” he jokes. It’s a joke because he really wants to do something with this idea; it keeps him awake at night.
Studio 21 will host a party on September 13 to kick off a campaign to do just that. Spencer envisions an entire brand built around the Tattoo Fight Club concept, including merchandise and apparel and, eventually, a line of art supplies. “I also want to strengthen the live event aspect of it,” he says, after visiting the Hell City tattoo convention in Ohio this year to present live artist battles. He’ll be doing the same thing in Calgary soon, too.
The Tattoo Fight Club Kickstarter campaign will launch right after Friday’s event, which will feature tons of art from the Instagram feed, food and booze, and music from The Clydesdale’s Paige Overton. The seed money will go toward building tattoofightclub.com, an online headquarters where artists and others can browse products, listen to podcast interviews with big names in the tattoo industry and follow along with events and competitions.
It might seem like an ambitious plan, but the interest in and allegiance to Tattoo Fight Club have been strong since day one. “It’s kind of intense, and the hype created by social media has been that way, too,” Spencer says. “But it’s really about artists getting involved with each other’s work and promoting each other creatively. You can apply it to almost anything.”
Feed the Beast Kickstarter Pre-Party for Tattoo Fight Club September 13, 6-10 p.m. Live art battles, gallery show, $24 tattoos, food trucks, live music by Paige Overton, drinks by Sailor Jerry and Hendrick's Gin. Studio 21 Tattoo, 6020 W. Flamingo Road, 248-8762.