Meet the Cochrane tattoo artist inspired by a galaxy far, far away

Saga Anderson is the force behind it all.

Not only is his body covered in Star Wars characters but so is his entire studio in Cochrane, Alta. The area is located about 20 kilometers north of Calgary and covered with memorabilia from that film.

Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker action figures can be attached to the wall in their original packaging. A Millennium Falcon hangs on a ceiling. Along with other trophies, awards and a Stormtrooper Bobblehead, a glass cabinet contains a Stormtrooper Bobblehead.

“My father introduced Star Wars. Star Wars sheets, blankets and toys were my first love. He said that he fell in love with Star Wars sheets, blankets, and toys ever since.

“I just love the art, the images, and the costume of it … the characters are just so well developed and it’s kind of proven itself as a timeless story 50 years later.”

Anderson is so passionately connected to the franchise that his entire business was built around it. He’s the only tattoo artist in Canada who is “Lucasfilm-licensed.”

It is run by Ink Fusion Empire, backed by Lucasfilms Ltd. — the production company behind the films. They accept tattoo artists’ work, and, if approved can tattoo at Star Wars conventions.

He stated, “To be able to combine my passions for Star Wars and art in one place is the greatest joy for us all”

“I get to come to my favorite place every day and … do tattoos that I love.”

Action figures, still in their boxes, are stuck to a wall. A glass showcase displays multiple trophies.
Anderson’s passion for Star Wars and the numerous awards he has received for his work are evident in a small part of his office. (David Mercer/CBC)

Clients travel far and wide to get their tattoos done.

Anderson was far from Christopher Howe, San Jose, Calif. Anderson was a long time away from Christopher Howe in San Jose, Calif. Anderson finally met him after a long wait. Anderson characters were a part of the leg piece he was working on when he returned earlier in the month. Star Wars: The Clone WarsThe franchise includes “The Friend”, an animated film.

Howe said, “The technique and style he uses are unlike any other I’ve ever seen.”

“I sort of hunted him out and wanted to make the effort to fly all the way up here … because I don’t think there’s anyone doing as good as stuff, certainly in the Star Wars medium.”

Anderson says it is a reputation that he has earned over many years of hardwork and long hours.

Given that he was a psychologist when he left his job 15 years ago, he is proud of the achievements he has made.

“The artist that I long to be”

For many artists, the creative bug was a quick hit.

Anderson claimed that he was a cartoonist and comic creator during his Calgary school years. Anderson designed CD and book covers for his classmates.

At first, he didn’t take his art seriously. He was just a hobby, so he decided to study psychology instead.

He had a successful career, he said, but he kept feeling a pull — a force, you might say — drawing him back toward art. He started to tattoo in 2007, and years later found a place that would accept him as an artist.

“I decided that I would work there after the other artists went to bed at night. He stated that if any other artists get tired, I would keep going.

“So I was able through hard work and perseverance to become the artist my heart longs to be.”

A man leans over a brightly lit work station.
Anderson has made it a career out of creating Star Wars tattoos. (David Mercer/CBC)

His specialty was his “color realist” tattoos. It is a process that involves taking a photo and trying to make it on a canvas. It almost makes the photo appear three-dimensional.

He stated that you must learn how to erase the outlines and create images using colors, shading and values. Contrast is a skill you would learn as an artist.

He showed his work by traveling to competitions and conventions. He believes social media was a great way for him to reach more people and promote the brand.

Anderson and his wife give seminars and judge competitions.

He can create many scenes and characters, but Star Wars is his favourite.

“I was surprised by everyone”

Anderson says that he has never started a design without meeting with the client. Together, they take a photo and then use Photoshop to create winning designs.

“The body tells me what needs to be there … what shape should be on them,” he said.

While most tattoos take between three and seven hours, some can take as long as a day. It’s all worth it to see his clients’ reactions to his work, he says.

“That’s one of the best parts of my day … seeing that they got a whole new part of their body that they can look at and admire for the rest of their life.”

A man lies on a table as another man tattoos his calf.
Anderson is working on Christopher Howe’s Star Wars tattoo. (David Mercer/CBC)

His services are in high demand. Anderson says his popularity is thanks, in part, to a change in the way people think about tattoos.

Tattooing isn’t as easy as just going into a shop looking sketchy and then pointing at a picture on the wall. Tattooing is a more artistic process. Each artist will focus on a particular technique.

Anderson says he encourages anyone with a passion for art to pursue their dreams, too.

Fear is the path to the dark side.

“I think everyone was amazed at how far we managed to get.”

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