Where were you born and where are you from? Born in
and I'm still in the area today. There are many things to love and hate about Cleveland, but it’s my home and as bad as it has been to me at times, there are still times it has treated me like a King. I have been all over the Cleveland Ohio and haven’t yet found a reason to call any place else home. U.S.
How did you get introduced to the tattoo culture?
I think the first time was at a carnival that my parents took me to at around 10 years old...they let me get a cheesy dragon painted on my arm...which I fought washing it off for days...after that I was just fascinated with tattoos and really started to notice them on anyone I saw. I think it was even more intriguing since we didn’t know anyone with tattoos at the time and since my parents were against it...I was ALL for it.
When did you get started?
Well, unfortunately for some of my friends, I started "tattooing" if you can call it that, at around 14 or 15. I got my first tattoo at 14 and wanted more, but couldn’t afford them, so I figured I could just do them myself.
Do you remember the first tattoo that you did?
The first tattoo I ever did was on myself, hand poked and since covered up. And I believe the first tattoo I did on someone else was a dragon head and it was terrible.
How would you describe your style of tattooing?
Well, I guess most of the stuff I do these days is photo-realism ...which I really enjoy as well as bio-mech. But I consider myself a fairly versatile tattoo artist and try to be flexible and able to give each customer what they want...within reason. Everyone who comes in has different tastes so you have to be a little flexible, unless you are a complete superstar with a year’s waiting list. Which don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that and would love to work that way if it was feasible, but at this time it is not. Besides, I think if there wasn’t at least a little variation day to day it might get a bit boring.
What were you doing before you got into the tattoo business, and what made you change?
In school and getting into trouble...haha.
What influences your artwork?
I try to pick up things from all over...I am influenced by artists that I admire, like Robert Williams, Giger of course, Chet Zar, graffiti artist Banksy, Nikko, Mike Devries, Filip Leu, Robert Hernandez and the list goes on forever and of course, my fellow artists at the shop. I also try to pick up influences from other things...a freaky texture on a tree or a vegetable...the way the light reflects off of certain objects, etc. I don’t always succeed at this, but I am a firm believer that you need to Constantly be learning, refining and improving as an artist or you might as well just quit. It’s hard at times to look at some of the new artists coming up and see how Great they are when they have only been tattooing a few years, while I have been for a few decades. But then I just let it drive me to improve and try harder.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first tattoo?
TAKE YOUR TIME...Research...Research...Research... and DO NOT settle for whoever can do it the soonest, cheapest or closest. SOOOOOO many people I talk to daily are more concerned with those things than anything else. And first or last tattoo doesn’t even matter...you should do your homework every time. We put together a flyer at the shop just for this reason that explains what to look for...what questions to ask etc, no matter where you get tattooed. I think the whole "Instant Gratification" thing that we have engrained in us these days is Ruining tattoos for a lot of people. Everyone is in such a rush to get done. Like if they don’t get tattooed that day they will die or something. It also kills me to see all these people buying these expensive gadgets shoes clothes etc, that will be junk in 6 months or so...but they refuse to spend a reasonable amount on a tattoo that will be there forever. Luckily some people listen to reason and want good work or I would be out in the cold but if everyone slowed down a bit they would be much happier for it.
So, basically, I guess my advice is research your local artists. Go out and talk to them as well. Find someone who is talented, has clean business practices, and someone that seems genuinely interested in your ideas. If for any reason it doesn’t feel right, then bail and find someone else.
Do you see your self doing anything other than tattooing?
Not really, I have thought of what I might do if I wasn’t tattooing and to be honest, I think if it weren’t for tattooing I would be in serious trouble. Tattooing has been very good to me and given me a good life and an outlet as an artist. It probably saved me from the streets...literally. But with that said, I want all those young artists looking to become a tattooer to keep in mind...it will only give to you as much as you give to it. If you don’t work Super hard at it and continue to grow, then it may very well eat you up and spit you out!
Do you have a favorite quote?
Never rat on your friends... and Always keep your mouth shut! -Goodfellas
Where do you see the tattoo culture 10 years from now?
I honestly don’t know. There are so many talented people involved in tattooing that nothing would surprise me. But on the flip side, I think that for every good artist that starts tattooing there are literally 25 "wannabes" that come in not willing to do the work or take the time to do things the right way, so, its anyone’s guess.
Anything else you would like to add?
Well, first off a big Thank You to Mr.Tattoos and the site for listening to my rambling bullshit. And of course, Thanks to all the cool clients of mine out there and to all that have helped me along the way.
Gen X Tattoos