Results tagged “Tennessee”

11:25 AM
wolf head tattoo.jpgkeyhole tattoo.jpgAs it's his birthday today, I found it fitting to post my Q&A with Noah Morris of Regicide Tattoo Studio in Dyersburg, Tennessee. I met Noah in person at the Virginia Beach Tattoo Fest in August, and then followed up with him on a discussion about the tattoo scene in Northwest Tennessee, whether the client is always right, what there is to love about tattooing, and more.

How did you get your start in tattooing in 2002?

I have to be honest, I got my start as a scratcher. I was in college and was doing graphic design work. From that, I had a few friends talk me into buying one of those kits. What can I say? I was young and naive . Fortunately I didn't do very many. I saw very quickly that something wasn't right, and if I wanted to do this, I had to do it right. So I stopped and went to the best shop I could find. I went in, had a brief conversation with the owner, returned a month later with some drawings. From that I started  a formal apprenticeship. Left college and never looked back.

What's the tattoo scene like in Northwest Tennessee, and how have you seen it change over recent years?

The tattoo scene in Northwest Tennessee and surrounding areas isn't the greatest. This area, in general, does not support the arts, and it's something that I still struggle with now. So there wasn't a lot of freedom to explore, and when I did, I usually failed miserably. I spent most of my earlier career just trying to make a living. Shops were few and far between and there was very little comradery between those that were. Things are starting to change a little now. Better artists are coming into the area and a mutual respect is being established between those artists.

My clients are becoming more open minded as well. This has to do a lot with me finally realizing that if you want to tattoo cool shit, you have to draw cool shit. So I have started focusing my time and drawing things I want to tattoo and putting them in a big book. I post them on Facebook and Instagram so at least people are seeing different options. Still though, heaven forbid I draw a hannya or oni! It's like I just drew the devil. We're still working on that. It'll come around. Haha!

oni tattoo.jpgWhat kind of designs are people asking for these days?

It's hard to say what people are asking for these days. It's funny because the internet has been such a blessing and a curse at the same time. People come into the shop talking about not wanting to pick some flash piece off the wall. And now everybody walks in with something from Google images or Pinterest (Pinterest is the worst) on their phone. I just laugh because 15 million people have just saved that image too, as opposed to the ones that hang in the shop. Personally I would rather have something off the wall. I have flash tattooed on me. Still, to this day, I haven't run into anybody with the same tattoo.I love the classics. I could tattoo skulls, flowers, women and Japanese imagery every day. That's what gets me excited.

If you don't think a client's idea is a good one, do you: (a) do it anyway (the "client is always right" approach); (b) talk them into another tattoo that you feel would be better; (c) turn away the client and not work with that person?

This is one industry where the client is not always right. In fact, they're usually wrong. As a tattooer, it is your job to guide them in the right direction. That's why it's good to have plenty of art on hand. People respond better to visuals than just trying to explain what you're thinking. It took me a long time to figure that out. We try to work with everybody and most of the time it works out. But I have come to the point that I will flat out tell somebody, "No, I can't do that." And it pisses off some people. But, at the end of the day, I want to feel good about what I tattooed. Even if it's just a small name on somebody. I want that name to fit the spot, be clean, and legible. I don't want to put 10 different images with 6 names in a spot the size of my hand. That would just be doing a disservice to the customer and myself.

I know it seems a lot of this sounds negative. I don't want it to be that way at all. I love tattooing and it has given me a great life. And it's the clients that make that happen. Without their willingness to let you permanently put something on them, we as tattooers wouldn't have anything to do.  I wouldn't want to do anything else. Sure it can be frustrating, but what job isn't at times. In fact this is one of the hardest but funnest jobs one could ask for.

What projects, travels, events are coming up for you?

I have big plans for 2015. I am new to the convention scene, but I plan on doing at least 5 shows this year. I find it very refreshing to get to work outside your natural environment and break away from your comfort zone. I will definitely be going back to Virginia Beach. Such a fun show, and hey, got to meet you there. A couple shows in Nashville and just see what else comes my way. I have seen how traveling can burn some tattooers out and I don't want that to happen. One of these days I would love to make it to Europe and Japan. That's all in due time. I'm starting to get into oil painting. I'm super excited about that. So hopefully soon I'll have some nice oil paintings to share with everybody. I feel it's going to be a great way to expand artistically and bring what I've learned into tattooing. 

What do you love about tattooing?

The thing I love about art and tattooing is there's no topping out. As long as you keep pushing yourself to be better, you will have a career that lasts a lifetime. I don't feel I've even come close to doing my best work. There is still so much to learn. I hope I never become complacent with my abilities. I want every 10 years of tattooing to be my starting point.

You can keep up with Noah on Facebook and Instagram. And wish him a Happy Birthday!

apple tattoo.jpg
08:53 AM
tattoo discrimination claim.jpg Photo via

On more than one occasion, my tattoos have gotten in the way of getting food and drink. A seaside restaurant in Greece made it clear they didn't like my tattooed kind and ignored me until I left.  A bouncer at an upscale rooftop bar in Manhattan informed me that "this wouldn't be my type of place."  In the end, I was happy not to give my money to such places, but it did put a damper on my good time. I don't do well with people getting in between me and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

That said, private establishments do have a general right to have dress codes and to deny those that don't fit their "type of place" as long as the discrimination is not based on a protected class, like religion, race, and sex, among others. 

Last week, Bubba Brews, a restaurant on Norris Lake in Maynardville, Tennessee, told a tattooed patron, Mike, to cover up his tattoos, and so he did what many people do today ... he called the media claiming tattoo discrimination. Check the video below. 

But something about this incident didn't have me waving the tattooed freak flag and instantly supporting claims of injustice. The owner of the restaurant was tattooed, and the news cameras showed that there were plenty of tattooed patrons. It was the content of the tattoos that were the problem. Aside from his classy, "I <3 Strippers" throat tattoo, he also had work that said, "Don't be a dick," and a rib piece that was blurred out, which was a youthful mistake. Considering there were kids at the restaurant who were trying to read his tattoos, they asked him to keep his shirt on. He didn't like that.

I don't think it's unreasonable for a restaurant owner to worry about losing family clientele, and as such, ask a patron to cover up that youthful mistake, but still offer service. If I was the restaurant owner, I would have offered Mike a free drink in exchange for him putting on a shirt and being cool.

It's a slippery slope argument, though. What really is an offensive tattoo?  Is it one of those "I know it when I see it" standards? How does one balance the rights of a private business owner to keep a certain reputation with the rights of tattooed people not to be denied the right to be served?

I don't think these are easy questions. But in this particular instance, I think someone who has tattoos that have to be blurred out on TV should take some responsibility, put on a shirt, and follow his tattooed mantra, "Don't be a dick."

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