October 14, 2011
by Matt Roberts
Bleach Temby (a.ka. Bleach Methane) is a pretty talented guy. If you’re aware of who he is, you probably know that he is an accomplished tattoo artist and pretty good with a pen and pencil. But did you know he plays a mean bass guitar? Or that he’s pretty handy with a computer or that he knows his way around a camera? How about the fact that this guy has developed his own unique tattoo style? And when it comes to eighties trivia- he can go toe to toe with the best of ‘em!
After fifteen years of tattooing, Bleach has become known for creating beautiful pin-up girls and striking photorealistic portraits. His custom tattoo designs are as intricate and dynamic as they are solidly tattooed. Looking at his extensive portfolio or speaking with any of his loyal clients, you would suspect that the fact Bleach has managed to stay focused on one thing for this long is just short of amazing!
“I get bored,” says the 37 year old artist. “I’ll do something for a while, but it’ll get old. Time to pick up something else.” Notorious for his short attention span , Bleach jokes about suffering from a hybrid of Attention Deficit Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
“I get into learning something new and I can’t leave it alone until I figure it out. But once I know how to do it, I get distracted by the next thing. I have to make myself keep doing it or I’ll check out, move on to another (interest).”
As a musician, Bleach has played bass for over 20 years, performing with various rock bands and working on numerous personal projects. His musical interests eventually expanded toward digital production so he could do his own mixing and editing. From there he began using his computer to manipulate images.
“Years ago, back when I was at Steve’s Tattoo in Madison, WI, we used to cut out pictures of one another and literally cut and tape them together with pictures from magazines. Then we’d adjust the image on the copier to make embarrassing pictures of each other. Photoshop came along and made that much easier.” Bleach began honing his computer-aided design skills by making business cards and fliers for the tattoo shop and local bands. This led to picking up the occasional graphic design client.
Since those days of physical cut-and-pasting, Bleach has created logos and graphics for a variety of businesses including a couple of popular local Minneapolis bars and a national sock company. Recently he has been having a good time creating graphic tees which he submits to various t-shirt derby websites. Look for his old school tattoo-style homage to Star Trek available soon on TeeFury.com.
Interestingly, it was a design on a t-shirt that led Bleach to create an innovative tattoo-design style he uses from time to time. While at Capital City Tattoos, also in Madison, he had a client who wanted a tattoo of an image of Jack Nicholson from the movie “The Shining”. The image was a white screen print on a black shirt. The only way to replicate the white image with its black background, exactly as the design appeared on the shirt, would be to tattoo the black background leaving the image as open, negative space.. Bleach didn’t want to handle the design that way because it gave the image the appearance of being framed inside of a black box. He began considering other options and wondered what a negative of the image would look like.
After photographing the t-shirt image with a digital camera, he took a look at the image using the camera’s negative setting. This reversed the black and white colors so the photo of Nicholson now appeared as a positive, dark image and the background became white. Bleach tattooed the positive image onto his client who was so pleased with the work that he later wanted to do another portrait but this time as an actual negative!
For the second tattoo, Bleach increased the detail and shading to make it even more dynamic. The technique worked out incredibly well and the tattoo looked great. Since then, Bleach has created a number of these negative-style portraits for clients, each one unique and strikingly eye-catching.
“When I began doing the negative tattoos, I hadn’t seen anyone else doing tattoos like that. It was exciting to be doing something new. To be the first, as far as I was aware of, to do this type of tattoo and to be teaching myself how to do it.”
Nowadays Bleach has been using his digital camera for more than negative tattoos. While he’s had an on-again/off-again affair with photography since high school, that love has reawakened over the past few years. He has been working on a number of conceptual projects, candid portraits, and modeling shoots while working closely with his good friend Jeff Roberts of Eyeball Imaging in an effort to continue developing his technical abilities.
“The thing about Jeff is that his photos have a really amazing sense of detail. The background, the environment… it’s treated like another character in the image along with the model. His technique brings all the elements of the shot together in a really cool, cohesive way.”
As for digital design, Bleach has continued to develop that too, but his current focus is digital painting. This relatively new medium uses a stylus, digital tablet, and software rather than physical paints. Unlike computer generated art which relies on digital models to render images, digital painting involves applying painting techniques to compose imagery from a blank slate.
His recently finished, first painting is a large scale image of the two joy-riding parking garage attendants from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as seen through the windshield of the ’61 Ferrari. But why a portrait of two minor characters from a 25 year old teen comedy?
“There’s this artist named Massimo Carnevale. (He) does these great paintings of random scenes and characters from movies, TV, comics. I love everything he does so I wanted to try one.” And just like anyone who hit puberty in the eighties, Bleach was weaned on John Hughes films. ” I wanted to do an iconic scene that made people think ‘Where do I know them from?”
“I grew up in the late seventies and eighties and I remember it better than yesterday. Everything was awesome. I was having fun with friends and my family, being a kid. I remember everything from that time- music, movies, TV shows.”
Bleach enjoys drawing and tattooing most any pop-culture subject matter, from cartoons and comedians to horror and sci-fi icons. But you start to wonder if this infatuation is bordering on psychosis once you have been exposed to his expansive collection of memorabilia.
Amongst the relics of Bleach’s 80′s time-capsule you can find some long forgotten Freddy Krueger items, including a cherished copy of “Freddy’s Greatest Hits,” a vinyl album featuring Freddy, as voiced by “Nightmare on Elm Street’s” own Robert Englund who sings and raps a variety of original songs and covers.
But the lion’s share of his treasure horde leans heavily toward science fiction with a focus on the big three: Dr. Who, Star Trek, and Star Wars. Having grown beyond the simple acquisition of more rare models, limited-edition action figures, or vintage posters, Bleach has taken to becoming a bit more DIY in his efforts.
His current geek-project will result in the centerpiece of his collection: he is building a life-sized replica of the Han Solo in carbonite prop, or HIC (Han In Carbonite) to those in the know. It features a casting from the original mold used to make the prop seen in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
“When it’s finished, it’ll have blinking lights and sound effects exactly like the one from the film. It’ll be sweet.”
We wish Bleach good luck with his many endeavors but in particular we hope he can focus his surplus of restless creative energy long enough to finish his Han Solo/fan-boy alter – even if doing so means everyone around him will have to endure weeks of looking at photographs of “my awesome HIC !”
Matt has been a manager at Saint Sabrina’s for a few years now, where he uses his extensive vocabulary and gentle southern manner to help clients with many of their tattoo and piercing needs. Matt has a list of interests that rivals…well, something that is a really long list. At the top of that list is designing and making jewelry out of precious metals as well as things less precious, via his workshop, Gold Monkey Designs.
Matt is not actually a zombie. Probably.