Before I start I wanna warn you guys that I’m horrible at this writing stuff so bare with me. I'd like to try and paint a picture for you all. To take a glimpse into my journey through these past 15 years in tattooing. Also where I am at this point and where I plan to go. So here we go...
I truly believe tattooing saved my life. From my younger days, I have so many memories of violence and traumatic experiences. Growing up where I did, everybody was used to the idea that poverty, ending up in jail, or getting killed in the street was normal. I recall drugs being everywhere. At 6 years old I was hanging out in the neighborhood, watching grown ups walk around like zombies. Although I have had many beautiful memories, I have experienced unfortunate ones too. Where I grew up, bad times were never too far away. My way out was always drawing and creating. Working with my hands and making something out of nothing was my favorite hobby. Before long it was my obsession.
Growing up, the art of tattooing was always a part of the scene in the neighborhood. It wasn’t too uncommon to have at least one. I grew up seeing people get all kinds of art at in-home tattoo parties, but the ones that stuck out most were the really good tattoos...Obviously; whether they were nicely done praying hands, colorful graffiti lettering, or any dope ass animation you would see back then. Still as a kid I never thought I would be tattooing for a livin. It didn’t even cross my mind. I also remember tattooing being such a taboo part of culture as well. Before I ever even walked into a tattoo shop I thought they were all just super sketchy places to go into. All I remember hearing were a lot of mixed crazy stories.
When I was around 16 years old I decided I was ready for my first tattoo. I wanted some lettering on the back of my arm. My cousin Lou was having a homie of his who was an artist come by and tattoo us at his crib. Lou had already gotten sleeved up and was getting some dope shit from this guy so I had to get in some work of my own. This guy (who has now been a big influence and a big bro through my career) went by the name ES comes in with a few bags containing all his equipment, machines, paper towels, sketch books and what not. He sprawled his set up on the table and got to work. I was impressed at how he just showed and set up shop like that and did amazing tattoos. That along with a few other influences was what sparked the idea of becoming a tattoo artist in the beginning.
I started pursuing it more and more becoming so obsessed! Like many things in life at first I wasn’t the best at it but I had a sense as to where I wanted to take it. I kept building and building until I got a routine and got so much better at sketching and drawing because I was doing it so damn much.
As I got older I began to notice a different side of tattooing. Seeing some of my favorite rappers and celebs at the time with dope ass ink and admiring the works of Mister Cartoon, Kat Von, Ami James, Chris Graver and so many others was super inspiring. Also people around me were getting so much better which for me was just more inspiration. I started to realize that tattooing has so many faces from all different places. You got your bikers getting tribals and traditional style work; the urban style artist in the east coast doing graffiti and “hood art”; the chicanos in Cali doing sick ass black and gray plus dope lettering; the Japanese artist doing beautiful imagery like dragons, koi fish and Japanese flowers; the Polynesian artist doing their symbolic tribal pattern work. The list goes on and on. The possibilities are truly endless!
I’ve chosen tattooing over everything since then, telling myself that as long as I’m keeping myself busy tattooing, making my mark in the neighborhood and in the world and providing for my family. Everything would be straight in life.
Now over a decade later it’s insane to me when I really look at how far I’ve come. Everyday my family and people I grew up around tell me how proud they are of me. So to add to that I guess it’s true what they say, if you follow your dream and stick to your goals you can really accomplish anything you set your mind to. At this point I’ve been so fortunate to have met some amazing homies who also tattoo (and the closest of them all I get to work with everyday). I’ve met and tattooed so many amazing people and have learned so much. And I’m sooo looking forward to seeing what else is in store.
I’ve been able to travel the country tattooing in conventions with my amazing crew Ashley and Scott. We’ve had the chance to visit places like Tampa Florida, Denver Colorado, Chicago Illinois, El Paso Texas, North Carolina, Philadelphia, and many other gnarly places and met some fucking awesome humans along the way.
Now after years of working together it was natural for Scott and myself to join Ashley and tattoo along side her at her amazing shop. That’s right baby, Show Off Ink Artistry!
As I reflect on my long journey of tattooing, it sure feels like destiny brought me to this shop to work with these talented artists. Tattooing has humbled me in so many ways as I know how fortunate I am to do what I love for a living
I know there is more in store. I would love to travel abroad and go overseas to further my knowledge and be able to bring my art to other places and continue to meet more amazing people. I think my biggest goal of all is to obtain wisdom. Among all the amazing gifts this life has given me, all that I have learned through tattooing has truly been a remarkable blessing.