The tourists who crowd each day onto Sausalito’s main thoroughfare inevitably find their way to 660 Bridgeway. It’s a focal point of the town’s commercial corridor, where art galleries, restaurants, knick-knack stores, and signage — lots of signage — jockey for people’s attention. On the back of an orange-and-black sign directed at drivers that says, “Share the Road,” is an avalanche of stickers, one of them put there by an Australian tattooist and artist named Antony Von Ratcorpse.
When Von Ratcorpse wandered by 660 Bridgeway last summer, he did what sticker-makers have always done on holiday: He went to work.
“I was just traveling,” he says by phone from Melbourne, “and everywhere I went, I would put a sticker here and there.”
The Sausalito sticker shows a skeleton-riding skateboarder. The skeleton wears a garment that says, “Wisdom in Chains,” which references one of Von Ratcorpse’s favorite hard-rock bands, whose song, When We Were Young, features a small army of skateboarders. Skeletons and skateboards are a Von Ratcorpse motif — in his art and in his commercial tattooing alike.
“I’ve always liked skeletons and stuff like that,” says Von Ratcorpse, 28. “Which is a big reason I got into drawing and artwork. And I always skateboard to get around, so they came together. I’m not the first person to do a skeleton on a skateboard, but it’s what I do the most of — and I’ve managed to get a bit of a following.”
That following includes people around the world, including California. Von Ratcorpse says he chose to call himself by that name because “when I was 16 or 18, there was a skateboard crew that me and my friends had, and as I started getting into artwork, people started calling me that — and I transferred it into my name.”
Von Ratcorpse would prefer to be a fulltime street artist, but he tells SF Weekly that, “It can be difficult to make a living off street art and graffiti art. And a lot of paid jobs are few and far between. So a lot of people get into tattooing because it’s a steadier income, and not deviating too far from being creative.”
And that income can pay for trips from Australia to the Bay Area.
“I hadn’t been to San Francisco for 10 years,” he says, “so it was good to get back there. I was checking out San Francisco and I had some free time. I was with a friend from Scotland, and we were looking for a place to relax, and we spent the whole day there walking around Sausalito. We ate some ice cream. And then I saw the lamppost with a bunch of stickers on it, and I thought, ‘I’ll stick one on.’ ”