“Congratulations, you’re hired!” said the voice on the phone happily.
At that moment things went quiet in my house and I started swimming in my head. Is this really happening?
I was 18, freshly out of highschool, and on a whim I applied to work at a tattoo shop on 6th street in Austin, Texas. They weren’t really wanting fresh meat as their counter help… right?
Little did I know that this job would mold and change me forever. I was accepted. I had awesome friends. I knew all the bartenders, door people, and ‘celebrities’. Hot damn. I scored the greatest job on the face of the planet. But there was one major ‘flaw’.
In 2001, tattoos and piercings were still considered taboo. You can imagine the freak out my parents had when they learned of my new career.
Walking into the 2013 Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival (a tattoo convention) made me feel like an old timer. I was able to experience the community as a small, close knit group of people. Now the industry has been blown open wide with reality TV shows and big named pop stars showing off their new ink proudly. Hell would have frozen over in 2001.
Now I mainly go to check out the art and hopefully bump into some old friends from ‘back in the day’. As for the current heavy hitters, I’m obsessed with the guys over at Triple Crown and can always visit our friend and tattoo artist, Zach Nelligan. He is one of the few people I can chat about Reykjavik with!
We were scoping out a few people for the sleeve that Shaun wants (one day when we amass so much money we can travel AND get tattooed). Of course, the one guy we would consider for any future projects with is based out of London. Looks like we may need some extra cash the next time we visit our friends. But that is how we roll. We go to see the art, its development, and who fits our style.
I always leave impressed and have to drag myself out of the convention hall without buying an art piece (in this case, a $200 hand-painted saw) or clothes… and sunglasses, or new jewelry for my ears. You get the point. It is strange to think that Austin and tattoos now go hand in hand.
Did I tell you about the time that we were traveling in Central America and a backpacker went up to us and sarcastically said, “Oh, man. You guys must be from Austin.” with no previous introductions?
But it is insane to think 12 years have passed since I first walked into those doors with the faint buzzing and the strong smell of green soap. I still feel nostalgic when I smell it. It smells clean. Add in some Social Distortion or Portishead and feel like I’ve stepped into a time machine.
While 2 months later the US suffered from 9/11 and my job hung on oh-so-delicately for the next 2 years due to economic downturn, I couldn’t have asked for a better, eye opening experience.
Each person has their connection to the industry and their tattoos. Do you have tattoos? Do you want any? Would you get tattooed while traveling? What is your story?