There’s nothing like the passion of Star Wars fans. We see this passion in a few different ways: costumes, fan films, comics, and tattoos.
One day, I was on Instagram scrolling through images of Star Wars tattoos. Some were cool, some were okay, but then I stumbled upon a user by the name of Ben Polhemus (aka JediJunkie), and his tattoos blew me away. I clicked on his profile and saw the fullness and magnitude of his Star Wars tattoos. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ben on his tattoos, his love for Star Wars and future tattoo plans.
1. First things first, when did you first realize your love for Star Wars?
"I think my love of Star Wars really started when I got to see the original trilogy re-released in theaters in 1997. I had seen the original movies on VHS before that and my brothers and I had SW action figures but getting to see them on the big screen awoke my true passion for the galaxy far away. After that I started to read the Star Wars books my older brother was finishing at the time like the Thrawn trilogy and Young Jedi Knight series until I was totally hooked. My love for the movies was a given, but being able to let my mind escape our world and immerse myself in the Star Wars universe through reading the plethora of different stories over the years has maintained and continues to fuel my love of the whole franchise."
2. A lot of people have a deep love for Star Wars, but they don’t cover their bodies in Star Wars tattoos, what made you decide to take this on?
"For the longest time I’ve dreamt of having an extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia and figures, a full wall of trooper helmets, and a life size statue of Darth Vader. Over the years I have gathered a small collection, with a few prized autographed pieces from Mark Hamill and our beloved princess Carrie Fisher, and even today when I see people sharing their SW collections on instagram and Facebook I get a feeling of longing to start collecting again, but when I started getting tattoos I came to a crossroads. I could either try to continue gathering merch but never reach the quality or quantity that those who started before me have been able to collect, or I could start a different kind of collection of my own, which is what I decided to do.In lieu of having a wall covered with trooper helmets and figurines, I have a growing collection of my favorite troopers and ships tattooed all over my body. It’s a unique collection that no one else has and I can enjoy it everyday whenever and wherever I am. When others may be searching for years to find the one piece they need for their collection, I can have whatever is in my mind’s eye after a few hours or sittings under the needle and it will be one of a kind."
3. Which tattoo did you get first?
"My first tattoo and most meaningful was the memorial of my grandfather on my ribs. It’s one of my favorite pictures of him, he’s wearing a kilt and dress attire for a wedding but he’s goofing around and has a big smile on his face just like I love to remember him. originally he was not supposed to be part of my growing Star Wars story but once my other tattoos started to get closer and closer to him we decided to incorporate him as my light side defender and put Luke’s ROTJ lightsaber into his hand. So while the rest of my body is covered with imperials and the dark side, my grandfather is my main source of the light."
4. What are your future tattoo plans?
"Well I’m shooting for a full bodysuit when all is said and done. As I’m writing this I’m on a flight down to Star Wars celebration Orlando to sit through 3 days of tattooing my back piece and hopefully wrapping it up by the end of the weekend. It’s been over 5 years to get to where I am now, looking back it’s gone really quick, but to get to the coverage I want I think it will take me the greater part of the next 20 years to wrap up.I plan on continuing the Star Wars theme all over, with a smattering of other sci-fi material worked in, mainly from Steven Spielberg since he and George Lucas are the creators of majority of the films that I love and have influenced my life. I got married in the past year and starting a family is on the horizon so I’d like to save some additional space on my body for tattoos for my children in the future. The great thing with my artist is that we are constantly planning our next move during every session since my tattoos are all tied together, they need to flow into each other to keep it one cohesive story."
5. Who did all of your amazing work?
"All of my work, from day one up until now and into the future, has and always will be by Phil Morgan owner of RLMG Tattoos in sunny Thornton Park, Orlando, FL. I met Phil over 7 years ago when I worked with his wife and many of our coworkers had work done by him. When I saw some of the tattoos he did I instantly knew i had found the guy I wanted to do my tattoos.I think a lot of why I’m wanting and willing to cover my whole body with tattoos has to do with how Phil tattoos and builds his environment to cater to his clients needs.I had been in a few tattoo shops before and watched tattoo shows like Miami ink so I had this idea in my head of how a tattoo shop would be, but when I stepped into Phil’s shops, his first being in CT and his current shop in Orlando, I was pleasantly surprised.Unlike many other shops where when you walk in you have numerous artists working at the same time, tattoo machines buzzing all around you, people coming in and out, and environments that some people may be uncomfortable to be in, Phil’s shop is the total opposite. Phil is the only artist in his shop and he only takes one appointment a day, no walk ins. it doesn’t matter if you are going in for a 7 hour sitting or a 1 hour sitting, he wants to give you his full attention so you can get the most out of your time without interruptions. You can bring in music, dvds, pop on Netflix, or whatever you need to do to feel comfortable. Phil is also a great artist outside of tattooing, so the walls of his shop are covered with his own paintings and custom skateboards he’s done.But shop aside, Phil is just a really awesome guy. After years of tattooing I don’t just have my artist for life, I have a good friend. I look forward to every tattoo appointment, not just for the tattoo, but to also get to talk and hangout with Phil. He shares the same passion for Star Wars and sci-fi as I do. For both the force awakens and rogue one releases, I’ve flown down to Orlando to see them with him on opening day and then tattoo the day after. We’ve put in over 200 hours of tattooing into my bodysuit, you can really get to know someone during those long sessions, and that’s the reason why I will never go to anyone else. There are great artists all over, even ones Phil looks up to, but to me there is no replacement for what we have and are looking to accomplish together."
This was an amazing interview to conduct. Ben is a great guy who has a deep passion for Star Wars. If you’re in the Orlando area, make sure to check out Phil Morgan at RLMG Tattoos. And to see more of Ben’s tattoos, check out his Instagram account and give him a follow.