Paris Pierides

Written by Ellen Gurley

Paris Pierides
Interview with Ellen Gurley 5.23.13

Paris Tattoos, 1820 South Blvd., 28203, 704.910.1929 |

Paris PieridesE: Paris, first I’d like to welcome you to Charlotte and tell you that you’ve been a welcome addition to the tattoo circuit. As I understand it, you were born in Zambia, Central Africa, as a Cypriot Grecian. You attended school, as an illustrator and opened your first shop in Cyprus. When was this? And what was it’s name?
P: Thank you for the welcome. Yes, I was born in Choma Zambia, not far from Livingston, where the Victoria Falls are. I grew up in Zambia and South Africa, where I went to boarding schools. After three years at Art School in Durban South Africa, I won a scholarship and went to study at New York's Parsons School Of Design. I studied animation and illustration as my majors there. My life in America was abruptly disrupted by an unfortunate fire in Queens, New York which destroyed all of my belongings. So I went to Cyprus, joined the army and settled down there. Regarding the tattooing I am largely self taught. There really was no way to get the type of apprenticeships that one can get today. After toiling / battling with tattooing for a few years, I finally opened my first official tattoo studio in Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1989. It was very difficult to learn. Over the years, I have had five tattoo studios. My studios have always been called Paris Tattoos.

E: You have a very professional shop, Paris Tattoos, over there on South Blvd. When was it opened and how has been the reception?
P: The studio here in Charlotte opened in April 2010. I can say that the start was a little difficult. Starting anything new takes time until people get to know you. Especially with tattooing it is very ‘clickish’ and people like to stay in their comfort zones and within their circles. In this line of work one has to work hard to earn the respect and trust from the people. So making such a big move from another country (where I was famous) was a gamble and I took the leap of faith. Each artist has a different style and I believe people are fortunate to have these choices to be selective, which really wasn't the case some years ago. Charlotte has a wonderful diversity of artists. People here are spoiled with a great selection of great artists. Sometimes I think that people in Charlotte don't realize how many really great artists there are here in comparison to other cities in America.

E: You met your wife, Alexandria (from Russia) when she began to work for you, in your first shop, as a piercer who specializes also in permanent makeup (correct?). And she still works within your shop, as a manager and utilizing her specialities. Where would you be without her?
P: I would be lost without her. We met in Cyprus. Alexandra came to me for a tribal cover up, which I later also covered with a Buddha tattoo (lol). After we got married, she became the shop manager and was trained in piercing and permanent make up. She certainly has gone a long way with the permanent make up and is extremely good at it. She is also very, very knowledgeable about the industry. We have been through a lot together and weathered some pretty rough storms. The financial crisis and tattoo studio drama have been part and parcel of life. We also recently lost a loved one and have been in mourning.

E: I am happy to hear of your love and sorry to learn of the loss. It is also my understanding that you have received many awards and accolades (including, but not limited to, the 2008 Extra Ordinary Outstanding Artist Achievement Award or EB1). What is the one you’re most proud of? Just saying, to be honest, talking to you, briefly, this is not what keeps you going (awards). If not, then what is?
P: The EB1 award was the greatest achievement in my life (it’s the USA Award for Extra Ordinary Outstanding Artistic Achievement). But at this point in my life winning awards is cool but what makes me most happy is seeing my art on people. I love to see how tattoos can transform people and bring them happiness. Sometimes life can be so difficult that such a permanent change like a tattoo can make a difference to someone (I mean like a big difference). And I am happy to be part of that life changing experience.

E: A lot of your work is mythological (or fantastical) in nature. What are your spiritual beliefs, if you don’t mind me asking?
P: I believe that there is an almighty God; that we are not here for no purpose that our lives are meaningful coupled with the fact that we have physical and metaphysical energy. When we die that energy carries on. People choose how to channel that energy; whether good or bad. I do my best to to be calm. When I was younger, I had a hard time staying cool calm and collected. Age has taught me to chill somewhat.

E: How many artists are within your shop?
P: At this point there are two artists working with me, I would like to have one more.

E: What was your first tattoo? What was your last (as you have been quoting as saying that “you’re only as good as your last tattoo”)?
P: My first tattoo was a skull on a biker chick. My last tattoo is a fireman's helmet to remember the fallen heroes of September 11. The last tattoo is in progress and will be very elaborate

E: Who is Chris Garver? I have “heard you” “tip your hat” to him.
P: I met Chris Garver donkey’s years ago when he was at Fun City Tattoos in New York (at Jonathan Shaw's shop). Jonathan Shaw was the Editor of Tattoo International magazine and was the host of some amazing artists like Filip Leu. Chris was there with Filip Leu. Years later, I saw him on the TV show Miami Ink. He was the only guy that really kept the show real (that kept his integrity). He is an awesome artist that certainly has stayed humble and in my opinion one of the greatest artists in the world. I am blessed having had the Filip Leu influence (who is the greatest tattoo artist in the world). Ellen, you must have read an old interview where I mentioned Chris Garver (I have many many artists on my list). Chris said something that kinda went something like this,"the quality of the tattoo depends on the behavior of the client". That is why I tip my hat to him, because if someone is nice, kind and polite and additionally sits well the tattoo, that will be great... on the other hand if someone is rude, crass and impatient and won’t sit still, the tattoo will turn out crappy.

E: What do you do in your spare time? Read the Odyssey?
P: I have a hobby with stereophonic equipment. I like building speakers and tweaking systems. I love home theater and cinema. I studied film, so I do love movies. I also love to travel, to see new things and I love great tasting food. I appreciate beautiful nature and also adore architecture.

E: Tell us about your musical tastes?
P: I will always be a fan of Pink Floyd. I like too much to mention. At home I listen to jazz and at work I listen to Pandora and whatever the guys and gals like (and I am normally cool with it).

E: Psychology or philosophy?
P: Philosophy

E: Kiss or Poison?
P: Kiss

E: Gyro or chicken?
P: Chicken

E: Snakes or spiders?
P: Spiders

E: Do you cook? I imagine that you do.
P: I used to cook a lot when a bachelor, but not so much now; Chicken Cordon Bleu, Greek Souvlakia, Cypriot Souvla and I used to cook wonderful Jumbo Prawns with Piri Piri sauce (a South Africa Dish). Oh and stews. Yep, I used to be a good cook, that is probably why I am so fussy with food (lol). My wife is the greatest chef in the world. She is absolutely amazing.

E: Do you have any tattoos yourself and from whom? If so, tell me about the one that best describes you and your personality.
P: I have a bunch of tattoos, but if I had to start over again, I would really have taken a different route. A lot of that tattoos are ME trying to learn on MYSELF. So they are totally crap (lol). The good ones are from Phil Bond, Trevor Marshall, Tas, Bugs, Dan Gold, Darren Rosa, and the late Todd Vargas. All tattoos are a part of me (and now are part of my personality).

E: Anything you’d wished I’d asked, that you’d like my readers to know?
P: I would like to thank Charlotte for accepting me and making me part of their family. I am happy here and look forward to my next tattoo.


ellen-75   Ellen Gurley Visit Author Page |

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