Illustrators with Ink

Illustrators with Ink: Daniel Fishel

daniel fishel

So, it’s been a while, but I have for you another installment of Illustrators with Ink! Queens, New York-based illustrator Daniel Fishel was gracious enough to share his tattoos with me.

Daniel grew up near Harrisburg, PA but moved to New York and pursued his MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from SVA. His clients include an impressive list: the New York Times, McSweeneys, The Globe & Mail, GQ Magazine, Washington Post, Baron Fig, Lands End Canvas and National Public Radio (yay, NPR!). If you don’t follow him on Instagram, please do. He has an adorable cat named Avocado and likes pizza.

How many tattoos do you have? 9 (8 patched, 1 unfinished sock)

How old were you when you got your first tattoo? I was 19 years old. I was going to get one at 18 but I was super broke just starting art school. I’m kind of glad I waited because I probably would have gotten something really dumb but I was smart enough to avoid getting a nautical star or sparrows.

My first tattoo is a pirate ship on the Susquehanna river with the Harrisburg capital building and Three Mile Island on the other side. It’s framed with a banner with 717, my area code, and two straight razors on the sides. It’s a commemoration of where I was from and what I believe in. Also, everyone who listened to hardcore and was apart of the scene had gotten a 717 area code tattoo.

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Did you design any yourself? If not, would you ever? For some of the custom work I roughed it out but had them draw it. It’s their job to draw it in the way they typically do. My Buddy Holly tattoo is referenced based on a Christian Clayton illustration and obviously all of my punk rock band logos are just that.

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Do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why? Probably the tattoo on the back of my arm. It’s of a T-Bone steak with a halo at the top that has a banner around it saying “Forever Tender.” I got it out of spite at 21 when most of my friends were aggressive hardcore vegans. I mean they had vegan written on their knuckles and “xVEGANx” up their shin. At the time I ate meat and it was all out of fun. Now I’m vegetarian and it’s kind of has a whole new meaning to me.

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Where did you get your work done? Most of the artists who have done the work on me have moved onto other shops. In no order, Black Thorn Gallery (Mechanicsburg, PA), Machine Heads Tattoo (Leymone, PA), 717 Tattoo (Mechanicsburg, PA), Atom Age Tattoo (Mechanicsburg, PA). Ryan Spahr did my awesome Buddy Holly tattoo and he should get a bunch of attention. I’ve never gotten a tattoo in NYC yet but it’s on my list of things to do. I’ve lived here for 6+ years so I should get on that.

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Is there any meaning behind any of your tattoos? All of my tattoos are meaningful and sometimes poetic. I have a tree fort, suburb and kids playing on my leg which plays as a loose narrative of growing up in central PA. Just running out and about and you came home at dusk to eat dinner. I guess a call for simpler times that I kind of miss before computers/cell phones took over our lives. Before that it was just TVs.

Do you see a connection between the type of tattoos you have and your illustrative work? Tattoos have been apart of my life and apart of my visual language. Whenever I can I try to add tattoo’s on the characters I draw.

Here’s a selection of Daniel’s illustrations:

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