Where were you born and where are you from?
I was born and raised in Kokomo, IN. I’ve lived there all of my life until a little over a year ago, when I moved to the east coast to work at Last Rites Tattoo Theatre in NYC.
How did you get introduced to the tattoo culture?
I got interested into the tattoo culture after a few people I went to high school with wanted me to draw up some tattoos for them and I decided I wanted my own. Tattooing was illegal in Indiana at the time, so I had to go to a friend of mines dad’s garage to get it. After that I was hooked.
When did you get started?
A good friend of mine had decided to open a tattoo shop. He himself did not tattoo, but was approached by a tattoo artist to open a shop in a building that my friend owned. We had played in a few bands together and he also knew that I was an artist. Therefore, he asked me if I would be interested in learning to tattoo. I worked in a factory at the time, so I decided to give it a try a couple of hours a week after work. That is where my first apprenticeship began. It was pretty short-lived. It mainly consisted of the basic intro stuff and lasted about six months, during which time I did a handful of small tattoos and got the general idea. I ended up quitting because I didn’t feel like I was learning the tools I needed to do the type of art I was interested in doing. I felt very limited.
A few years later, I decided to give it another try under an artist named Bradley Pearce. I was laid off work right as the offer came, so I jumped on the chance to learn from him. I knew he was skilled in multiple styles and could teach me what I needed to learn in order to pursue my desire to do realism. This still only lasted about 10 months. I got called back to work and the long factory hours, along with having my first-born child, Chloe, made it too hard to balance it all out. A few years later I was offered a buy-out by the company I worked for and I took it. It gave me enough money to get by until I could build up my cliental and survive as a tattooist. Since then, I have been a full-time tattooist for almost four years. I know it’s a pretty long story but there were many stopping points along the way.
Do you remember the first tattoo that you did?
Yes, very well. The first tattoo I ever did was on myself. The artist I was apprenticing under asked me one day if I was ready to do my first tattoo. I said “sure”! Then he asked me what I wanted to do. I replied that I would do whatever the customer was wanting. That’s when he told me that I was the customer and that the first tattoo I did had to be on myself. So I did some Kanji symbols on my ankle that was my daughters’ initials. It actually came out decent. I was actually more nervous for the second tattoo I did because it was on someone else.
How would you describe your style of tattooing?
What influences your artwork?
I am influenced by the world around me. I’ve always been interested in things like science, religions, philosophy, social and political issues as well as controversial topics like aliens, conspiracy theories, and all of the big questions in life. I like to interpret these different ideas into visual form with symbolism. I’ve never liked my art to be completely spoon-fed to me. I enjoy a bit of mystery and having to figure it out for myself.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first tattoo?
To really do some research and find the artists whose work represents the style and vibe of what you want to get tattooed. Also, to give the artist a bit of creative freedom when the subject matter allows it. This is how you will get the best work out of the artist. It helps if the tattooist is really into what you want. Also, be patient and save up the money for a quality artist. A tattoo is one thing that you do not want to bargain hunt for. It will be on your body forever so do what is necessary to get the best work you can.
Do you see yourself doing anything other than tattooing?
Yes, but still remaining in the art field. I would also be happy making a living as a fine art painter. I’ve painted since I was a child and still continue to do so.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“To know is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge” SOCRATES
Where do you see the tattoo culture 10 years from now?
I see the industry getting better and better. I see it getting to the point where nobody has a bad tattoo anymore. It has been attracting more and more fine artists. Every other day you see another amazing tattooist. I think we have only just begun to see the possibilities that this art can be.