Studio: Golden Rule Tattoo Camelback – Location: Phoenix, Az
Style: Traditional – Years tattooing: 11
Your Instagram page describes you as “profoundly deaf.” Could you elaborate?
I was told I was able to talk, walk and play just like any typical one-year-old baby. When I contracted spinal meningitis shortly after turning one, it was as though I was a brand-new baby again. I had to relearn everything . . . My parents put me in a special school that taught deaf kids how to speak and hear using high powered hearing devices and practice reading lips, so I would not be restricted to only living/working in deaf culture. I ended up never learning American sign language . . . I believe it forced me to live a more inclusive life.
What was your apprenticeship like?
I loved my apprenticeship. It was everything an apprenticeship should be. Scrubbing, cleaning, sterilizing, painting, drawing, learning about tattoo machines, and tattoo history . . . I am grateful for those shitty years. I believe you shouldn’t be tattooing if you didn’t first pay your dues.
In a time when tattooing has expanded into so many genres as it has, what attracted you to traditional?
I enjoy the fact that something so complex and technical can be so simple. I like how these mostly flat designs look on a moving growing three-dimensional body . . . Plus, the tried and true really works. Trends come and go. People love to reinvent the wheel, but the classics stay strong.
Outside of tattooing: Alberto Vargas, Frazetta, Sorayama, and Patrick Nagel.
Old time tattooers: Doc Forbes, Dietzel, George Burchett and Ben Corday.
Local tattoers: Aaron Coleman and Mario Gonzales.
Tattooers in general: Matthew Houston, Cheyenne Sawyer, Tony Nilsson, and Rafa Decraneo.
Most important lesson learned as a tattoo artist?
Stay humble, always keep learning, and be thankful. Every tattoo, big or small, serves a purpose and provides me the ability to live my life with my family the way I want to.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to mention that I am extremely thankful for my wife, Justice. She pushes me to do my best work everyday . . . I don’t think I could be where I am now with out her continual support and love. I love her and our little family. They make me keep pushing on to make sure that the next tattoo I do is always the best one yet.