Die hard fans of any medium or facet or popular culture have been known to take their passion to the next level, and Nintendo fans are no different. A Portsmouth tattoo parlour has seen an increase in the number of requests for some of Nintendo's most famous mascots. Nintendo Life decided to go under the proverbial needle as we caught up with Nintendo tattoo specialist John Parker to talk the state of play regarding all things Ninty ink...
Nintendo Life: Could you introduce yourself?
John Parker: I’m John Parker from Portsmouth in the UK. I mainly specialise in colour, new school and pop culture tattoos, but also enjoy tattooing black and grey realistic stuff too. I’m lucky enough to get to work at Download Festival every year in the tattoo tent and have just come back from tattooing on tour with Steel Panther and Bowling For Soup.
How long have you been tattooing?
I have been tattooing for five years now, and have been at my current shop Southsea Tattoo Co in Portsmouth UK. Before that, I would design tattoos for friends and doodle for fun. Tattooing was something I always wanted to do and it has been amazing to me!
What is the demand for Nintendo themed tattoos?
I’m known for doing a lot of colour pop culture tattoos, a lot of cartoons, film references and computer game tattoos and Nintendo being such a cult name in the gaming world they are my main requests, to be honest.
Do you have a favourite Nintendo-related tattoo you've inked over the years?
For me, my favourite one was the three shells from Mario Kart with “choose your weapon” around it. It was on a regular client and good friend who just lets me do my thing. I tend to get a lot of trust from my clients who have seen what I can do with other tattoos and lets me get on with it.
Do you have an 'original designs only' policy?
I prefer to do original designs, where I tattoo a lot of existing characters going with something original is extremely difficult, but I do try and use images I haven’t used before or to add some sort of background to make it more original.
Is it difficult to balance individual requests with established characters/IP?
Yeah, it really can be trying to find a different angle that I haven’t done before. The last thing i want is for two people to have the same tattoo, but where there is a lot of different items within the Nintendo world it makes it a lot easier for me.
Are you a gamer yourself?
Yes I am. I tend to play more online stuff that’s pick up and play rather than anything with a story line as I don’t have as much spare time. I’m usually working or trying to keep a healthy work/life balance.
Are you a Nintendo fan?
Yes I am. I recently picked up a Switch as it lets me play on the fly when I get the odd spare moment. I did use to work for the Nintendo hotline in the UK as well they were good times and worked with some really good guys.
What do you play?
What do you think of Nintendo Switch?
I love it. It's so handy (pun intended) to pick up and play. Like I said, I had pretty much given up on single-player games, but the portability of it makes it easy for me to pick it up when I have a moment.
Has demand for Nintendo tattoos fluctuated?
Oh yeah, I think people are realising that it's a lot more acceptable now. I have had arguments with people in the past about gamer tattoos. I have had people tell me its stupid but games are a big part of peoples lives and pasts, I have people who use to play Mario with they family and it reminds them of hanging out with friends and siblings.
Can you talk about the Pokémon challenge?
I had a mission that has unfortunately got put to one side as my checklist was destroyed in a remodel at the shop. Basically, I wanted to tattoo the original 151 Pokémon. I will pick this back up at some point though when I can re-catalog which ones I have done.
What other work do you specialise in and where can people find more of your work?
I am a pretty well rounded tattooist but I most enjoy doing bold and bright tattoos whether pop culture stuff or a style called 'new school'. I regularly post on Instagram which is the best way to find my stuff - my IG username is @jptattooist. The shop is a well-rounded sop with artists that cater for all styles. You can find the shop's official page on Instagram @southseatattooco.
Thanks to John for speaking to us on all things Nintendo and tattoo related. Leave a comment below to let us know what your favourite tattoo was! Do you have some Nintendo-related ink? Share them below or via our official Twitter account @nintendolife.