Before I formally worked at a tattoo shop I existed on the fringe of the culture as a shop rat sitting quietly in the corner while everyone worked. I was a visitor in a world and culture so foreign to my Catholic upbringing and staunch republican father, so distant from the world of suburbia where I was raised.
I started hanging around tattoo shops to mostly bug artists and feel cool, like I was part of this secret club removed from the mundane and emotionally draining world of my then high school life. Terror filled my heart every moment as I wonder when the other shoe would drop and they would tell me to fuck off and never come back. They never did, or at least haven’t yet.
I started working as a fill in shop manager after I answered the phone for a few hours one day. The shop manager hated training me, saying since I was moving to Arizona in a few months there was no point in hiring me as he would have to train someone else in a few months anyway. His attitude changed when he had violent bad Mexican food diarrhea and I was the only one available to fill in.
As months went by I started to work more and the owners would make up jobs for me to do, give me a purpose to be in the shop. One of the owners once told me they liked having me out front because I wasn’t intimidating. I always smiled and, strange enough, didn’t have any tattoos. I actually didn’t start getting tattooed until I was 21 and no longer working at a shop.
Since I’ve left the world of tattooing I’ve become a designer and freelance writer who bounces between Phoenix and LA. I still have a strong connection to the world of tattooing, mostly through video projects and photography and friends.
This series of articles is my attempt to give people a look at the world of tattooing through my stories and the stories of others, along with the tradition and characters surrounding the scene.
I want to start off this series with a video I just finished with Dave Koenig, the tattooist who was my introduction to the world of tattooing and probably the only reason I’m even close to the culture in any respect.
I’ll try to post every week with something unique about the world of tattooing, the language used compared the popular perception and regions of the country, stories about skin heads wanting Nazi crap, more videos and photos as I edit and shoot.