When did you decide to become a tattoo artist? It was in 1997. I was in college for graphic design. I had just finished tech school for Advanced Art at the Academy for the Arts, Science & Tech in Myrtle Beach. This was a program you could complete in high school. I finished that and started my Associates Degree for Graphic Design. To me art is all the same: graffiti, comics, tattoos, graphic design, fine art… It’s all still art, just separate disciplines. I was of age and started getting tattoos. A good friend of mine started tattooing and became my inspiration. His name is Jeff Cribb, and he owns shop in myrtle beach.
What were you doing before you decided to become a tattoo artist? I was in school for graphic design and was doing a lot of freelance artwork. I was working on anything from branding to illustration and trying to make my way with that. I started getting a lot of tattoos at Port City in Wilmington as it was still illegal in Charleston. They encouraged me to pursue tattooing, and my skills easily translated into that field.
How did you learn to tattoo? I moved after my first year of college into the Smokey Mountains in NC. Got an apprenticeship at Mean Machines Tattoo with Jeremy Harburn. I opened my own shop near Western Carolina University and owned that for 10 years. Charleston was busier – I wanted more work and to develop skills faster, and Charleston’s tattoo crowd was growing like crazy. That’s what brought me to Charleston.
What is your favorite personal tattoo, and does it have a story? A thigh piece from Paul Zupico. It’s Hannya, a jealous demon, in a snake mask. I wanted to let the artist do his thing. It’s a good reminder to not let your jealousy and negative emotions drive your everyday life.
What is the strangest tattoo you have ever done? One of the strangest was more about the placement than subject matter. Our piercer wanted a very low back tattoo. They wanted a zipper where it unzipped her butt crack across her cheeks. They badgered me until I gave in, they thought it was hilarious!