Revive - A Quarterly Fly Fishing Journal (volume 2 edition 1) - Page 130

What was it that initially attracted you to tattooing?

When I was about 14, around 1990, I moved to a little town in Indiana. I was already into Punk Rock and skateboarding. These were 2 things not eagerly accepted by my peers or the community in general. I ended up meeting some guys that were about 4 years older than me who were into the same things. They took me under their wings and made sure that I was not jumped on a regular basis and kind of showed me how to take care of myself. They were considered the rebels and crazies of the town. They were just different, from the wrong side of the tracks, and knew that they really only had each other to rely on. I fit right in. They were already tattooed with markings from some of our favorite bands like Black Flag, Misfits, and Social Distortion. These guys were my only real family and I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be a strong-minded, strong-willed, independent, and free-thinking outside of the mainstream because I knew that there was no room for a kid like me to belong there. My first real step to segregate myself from the trivial nonsense of my surroundings and to become one of “them” was to get tattooed. From the first tattoo I received, I was in love with everything that it stood for. And for the first time, I was content with who I was. The fascination grew and grew as I got older until I was given the opportunity to start tattooing as a profession. I have been dedicated ever since.

How do you feel culture has changed/ not changed in regards to tattoos and the perception that comes with them?

The culture has changed dramatically since I have been involved in the tattoo industry. Like I previously stated, it was a rebel thing. Most people really just got tattooed because they looked cool. Since the birth of reality television, the whole industry had to step into pop culture and the mainstream simply because of supply and demand. There was a new breed of tattoo collector. As a commercial artist who wanted to continue to do what I love, I catered to those folks. As it turns out, the reasons that this new market of clients wanted tattooed was not too much different than my own. I love tattooing classic designs, but am equally happy tattooing 100 infinity symbols on people as long as it makes my clients happy.

Television showed the general public a side of tattooing and tattoos that was not immediately associated with biker culture or drug dealers and junkies. As much as I thought I wanted to be a hardcore rebel when I was a teen, once I started tattooing, I also wanted people to understand that this art was legitimate and quite beautiful. After many years of fighting to preserve tattooing and make ends meet, I can work in a safe and controlled atmosphere that allows me to provide a good life for my family.

What was your first tattoo and what was the first tattoo you gave?

The very first tattoo I got was a little hand-poked job done by my brother. HAHAHa, we thought we were cool! The first “real” tattoo I had done was a rose on my arm. The first tattoo that I did with an actual machine was a fish on my inner leg. It was kind of a nightmare, but I stuck to it and it helped get me to where I am today.