I was asked to team with the Pirelli brand and tattoo artist Scott Campbell for a special project at the tire manufacturer’s newest flagship store in Milan, Italy. The project featured Campbell “tattooing” Pirelli tires fitted to a limited-edition Ducati Diavel motorcycle on display at the Corso Venezia store. My role included producing a long-form written piece on Campbell that captured a 360 panorama of his journey from a Louisiana-born punk and motorcycle junkie to a self-taught celebrity tattoo artist to an emerging fine artist on the international circuit. I also interviewed Campbell for the resulting video and worked with the team to produce imagery and text documenting a weeklong brand plus artist collaboration resulting in a launch event that far exceeded expectations.


Never Plead Guilty

Scott Campbell has two loves, velocity and signage, which directly translate to motorcycles and tattoos.“My restlessness is quelled by getting on a motorcycle and just tearing down the road,” he said. “And my body looks like the bathroom wall at Max Fish.” We were at his apartment housed in the Peter Luger building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, early on a Friday morning. Campbell sat in front of a large desk covered with what looked like Wedgwood China skulls and jaw bones, piles of sketches, newspaper clippings, jars of oil paint and hand-made tattoo guns that formed a Braque-like collage of equal parts art and play. He had just been for his morning run and was alert, clear-eyed and talkative. The conversation shifted from reading Camus as a 16-year-old to painting Metallica logos on his punk friends’ jackets with whiteout to recently trading one of his paintings with the actor Orlando Bloom for a customized Ducati bike.

Born in 1977, Campbell, who spent his early years carving skulls into his grade school desk in Louisiana, has risen through the art world ranks with enviable vitesse. After tattooing a host of celebrities, including Sting, Kanye West and Marc Jacobs, he was asked to collaborate with Louis Vuitton for the Spring 2011 men’s collection. Noblesse Oblige, his recent art show at the OHWOW gallery in San Francisco, followed an equally well-received opening in Mexico City last November. Up next is a show in Zurich on soldiers he tattooed in Afghanistan as well as an exhibition at Miami’s Art Basel. For a no-name kid from the southern Bayou, Campbell’s ascension through social hierarchies and creative disciplines has been eye-opening. His modus operandi seems to be distilling culture at large, and moving freely between the high and the low. And his work is as substantive as it is provocative and disarmingly charming. His ability to keep all three in constant rotation is the alchemy behind his art.