Last year I tried out for the famed Inkmaster show that airs on Spike TV. I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked I was when I received word that I had made it onto the show. I was amazed, astonished, scared, thrilled and giddy all at the same time.
What you need to realize is that I’m completely self-taught. I started in my kitchen tattooing clementine oranges because I read somewhere that helps. I also tattooed my first “skin” there as well. A friggin bar code on the inner part of a friend’s knee. Kinda awkward, but I did it. And sweet christ almighty that shit was terrible! The lines looked like a blind, drunk man in Russia tried to tattoo someone with a rusty blade on a bumpy road. A travesty! After that, I have to admit it put a fire in my gut to want to learn more, push hard and don’t stop no matter how much discouragement I may receive. I moved my operation into my living room and decided to be bold and invite people for free tattoos. That proved very successful. I had a flurry of people coming by my place because they heard they can get a free tattoo from this new guy on the street. For those seven days I must have worked on 20 to 30 people. It was insane. I worked my day job, then moonlighted as a flourishing tattooer. After that week, I stopped the free tattoos and began charging folks. I also began doing tattoo parties. The parties helped me develop some speed and helped me think quicker on my feet. They also helped spread my name around town like a virus. Pretty soon I was booked for 3 to 4 months at a time and I worked my ass off. I have to admit… I fell completely in love with tattooing. There is a science to it that I discovered that constantly challenged and turned me on.
I worked out of my house for a year and a half. It was great money and the clients were steady. Then I began to want more. I felt the need to get my ass into a shop somehow and learn all things shop related. But what I realized is that getting into a shop in Boston (where I’m from) was a daunting task. I ‘d have better luck teaching an elephant how to ride a motorcycle. I created a portfolio and went out into the world. I hit up several shops in Boston, Quincy, Cambridge, Everett and Somerville looking to get in as an apprentice. I knew I wasn’t ready to go into a shop as an artist… hell, I didn’t have my license! What I did though was get information from a fellow street artist (scratcher as the tattoo community calls them) about steps to take towards getting licensed. I did what was necessary and then one night, I received a call from a friend of mine. She told me how she went to a shop to have some work that I started on her completed. She went in and asked the tattooer at the front desk if he would do it. The tattooer looked at it, asked who did it, she replied, he asked if I was at a shop, she replied, he asked if she could contact me to go in. When I received the call from her, I called Scotty from Star Trek to beam me up! I drove out to Brockton, which is approximately 15 to 20 miles from Boston to the shop. The tattooer, Greg, looked at my portfolio and asked if I would like to join. I damn near crapped my pants and said “HELL YES!”
I joined Brockton Ink and worked hard to continue to push my craft. People who I tattooed at my home thankfully supported and followed me to the shop. I was and still am very grateful to those folks who helped support my growth. While at Brockton Ink, I learned a lot. I figured out how to build my own tattoo machines, how to better present my work, etc. Greg is a great dude and he left to open his own shop in Rhode Island. I applaud and look up to him for that. I changed Brockton Ink from a hole in the wall to something people were proud to come by and visit and receive work there. Repainted the walls, created a logo, web presence, community presence and most of all, gained respect as a shop. Took a while, but it happened. During my time at Brockton, I tried out for Inkmaster. I thought it was a long shot and that I wouldn’t get it because in the tattoo world, I’m still a rookie. I tried because I felt it was a good step in my development as a tattooer. Low and behold I received word I got on the show as I was leaving Brockton Ink to begin a new life at a shop in Abington, MA called Extreme Fantasy. You will have to watch the show to see what happens. But know one thing, I be damned to become irrelevant, I will always be grateful for a new day and I absolutely love what I do. I ‘m here out of passion, not because of money.
As my best friend of 30 years says “Grow on, Flow on…”