First of all I want to thank you for taking the time to read my story. It has taken me a considerable amount of courage to open up about what i’ve been through and the grass isn’t always greener. Some days are hard just like any occupation but what separates the 9 to 5 job person and myself is the fact that I have so many people i’m excited to see every day. You guys mean the world to me and I can’t believe sometimes that I get paid for hanging out with my friends and doing art. Each session makes me smile and push on through the hard times and it is worth it so thank you for your support!
I began my journey at 16, in Denver Colorado. I sucked at art but I always had my hands in it. I was fascinated with Walt Disney and Animators such as Hayao Miyazaki. I had always thought I would go into the animation field but I had never fully bit the bullet and applied for the schooling. I ended up working in the kitchen. It was something I was good at and it kept me out of trouble. I ended paying for my first tattoo from Darren at Boulder Ink. My dad took me to get my tattoo at 16 I got compasses on my elbows to represent how I felt about my parents and how I was raised. I was hooked. I was in so much pain but I remember thinking “ wow these guys make a living doing art “. I used to be really introverted so the idea of talking to people and sales didn’t make sense at the time. I was utterly discouraged. My old friends used to laugh at my drawings and never take me seriously. I began College at Johnson and Wales University. My main focus was culinary and business. I had been accepted into a program prior called PROSTART. It is a program a select few get to attend to earn a letter in school. I had gone on to earning scholarships and winning competitions and I thought it was my calling. I have worked in 4 and 5 star restaurants and I realized that no matter what position I was in I was going to get yelled at no matter how much skill I have. I finished school and was working at The Isle of Capris at Farradays an upscale restaurant. I had ordered my first tattoo machine, it was hard to use and I hurt myself pretty bad. I had no idea what I was doing. My family had been the ones who suffered the most i’m still covering them up to this day. I started my apprenticeship slowly after and a friend had taken me under his wing.
Unfortunately, my apprenticeship was not easy. I was expected to learn tattoo drawing on my own time and at the shop I was to be cleaning and answering the phone. I was working construction for a while because the restaurant had ridiculous requests and wouldn’t accommodate for my schedule at the shop. On top of that it was an hour and a half away. I began at 7 am and finished around 3 and headed to the shop. I emptied trash, cleaned the glass, cleaned sinks in all stations, ordered supplies, ran errands and scrubbed tubes. As a more traditional shop, I had to clean everyones metal tubes and sanitize them. 7 artists and at least 2 tubes per day. Each one would take me 10 minutes or so to clean. The artists their put me through hell humiliating me by making me scrub the floor with a toothbrush and crack jokes. Sometimes I would be drawing and someone would tear it or spill stuff on it on purpose. In the tattoo industry, things are changing and people are respecting apprentices more but holy shit did I have a bad time. I moved to California in 2012 in hopes to start a new chapter. I worked a few shit shops and then I met my friend Trip. He told me my apprenticeship didn’t help much and I needed to learn the correct ways of doing things. I had also found out they had set me up for disaster when an artist sold me a broken machine. Trip taught me new skills and a lot about machines. I was working back in the kitchen at a Disney restaurant called Catal during this time. I was finally starting to see what I needed. I would get up at 3 am and bust my ass at work making pastries for $40000 salary. Sure, it sounds great till you factor what it was doing to my mental, physical and emotional states.
I remember sitting outside my job talking to my mother. She encouraged me to do what everyone else doubted. I quit my job on the spot in 2011. I knew I needed a change and as a creative who also is a musician, you need time to do what you love or you start to lose heart or get depressed. I went back to school to find my self. I started school at OCC in Costa Mesa California. I studied the remainder of my degree in business administration and I began taking more art and music classes. I had decided it was time after to pursue tattooing again full time. I was getting busier and I decided to go for it. I had jumped around looking for new places I could call home and feel comfortable tattooing but came up short. Instagram came out and people began liking my art and I found the support I was looking for all along. It was eye opening and I finally had the courage to express my art even after it was looked down on so hard.
I woke up on Thanksgiving Day in 2017 paralyzed. I was terrified and I had no idea what to do so I pretended it didn’t exist. After going into work, I asked a few if what I was feeling was normal. I couldn’t walk straight, sort of like I was drunk. I spent half a work day at the shop panicking and I finally talked to my brothers fiancé which is now his wife and she’s a nurse so she recommended I go. I went to the ER at Orange coast memorial. There had to be 100 people in the room i’m like “ here we go another 15 hours at the er”. I walked up to the counter and the lady at the desk said, “ Are you okay do you need a wheelchair” I laughed and shrugged it off. She said, “ What brings you in?” I responded vaguely “ I can’t feel anything from the waist down. She replied “ Okay have a seat”. Not a minute later I skip the entire rooms waitlist and I was brought back immediately. They laid me down on the table and poked me with things and asked if I could feel anything and I said no. I was then wheeled to another room to wait. They got me in for an MRI and told me I needed surgery but didn’t mention where. I was being drugged as he explained the problem which sent me into panic mode. I was about to have emergency spine surgery. A casual day turned for the worse for sure. I woke I up in the hospital and remained unable to walk till now which is February 2019. Thankfully I have had some feeling restored but there is some permanent paralysis in my legs. I have epilepsy now because of the trauma of the CNS. I am consistently trying to better myself and work through my condition.
I am now working with some of the best people I have ever met and I continue to meet so many more great people in my life because of this industry. It has become hard to work some days and I appreciate that so many of you still trust me and are super respectful when getting tattooed. I would encourage anyone to follow their dreams no matter how small or big they are because I found out I am much happier and all I needed was a little push. I love all you guys and I hope you found this to be an introduction to me and I look forward to all your ideas coming to life!
Cheers and thank you for all your support,