Adam Romano grew up in his family-managed carnival business, working the game booths on the midway, and as a kid, travel around the Chicago area. He started tattooing when he was eighteen, working in Arizona, Southern California and Florida and Tennessee. He also made the rounds of the tattoo show circuit, eventually finding his way Lake Havasu City, Arizona where he found a home at Handsome Devil Tattoo Co.
“Growing up in the carnival business was a weird lifestyle. I was surrounded by a different kind of people, and that includes fully tattooed people,” Adam says. “I always wanted to make tattoos. . .I always just saw myself doing something different with my life.”
Adam, 29, found an early mentor in the tattoo industry, Thad Jackson, in Arizona, who not only tattooed him, but after some pestering, showed him around the craft.
“I started leaning traditional, then advanced to black and gray, cover-ups and larger scale pieces. I focus on a lot of different styles because I want to be able to provide that service for whatever somebody might want,” Adam says.
More recently, Adam has taken inspiration from some of his favorite surrealist artists like Salvador Dali, and combined different tattoo techniques to product some amazingly realistic portrait work.
Some of the most popular pieces in Adam’s portfolio are historical figures including Sigmund Freud, Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein. The portraits themselves are done in black & gray, their “story” further told through background elements and splashes of color. John F. Kennedy’s portrait, for example, morphs into an American flag, while Einstein peers contemplatively into a swirling vortex of time and space.
“It’s a challenge to make (the portrait) really look like the person, so I wrack my brain on making it as technical as I can,” Adam says. “My focus is on the person’s main features, and the soul of the person that you see.
“I come from a traditional background, so I like to make pieces that hold up well over time, but I also put a lot of soft tones in the face and features. There may not be an outline around the tattoo, but it’s still held together pretty well though the shapes or background around it.”
“I like to get people to think a little more,” he adds. “When you look at a piece you want to be intrigued by it and brought into that world. . . thats what I put into the tattoos that I do.”
It’s no suprise that Adam swept the portrait, realism, and black and gray categories at the Laughlin Tattoo Convention. He’s also won awards at tattoo shows this year in Phoenix, Tuscon and Lake Havasu.
“It’s cool to win awards at the shows and to be judged by your peers,” Adam says, “but it’s really validation in eye’s of future clientele. If somebody comes into the shop and sees the awards, it inspires them to be more interested in the new tattoo that they’re going to get.”
Even more than trophies, Adam finds personal satisfaction in being able to give back though his art. He recently took part in an benefit art show with proceeds going to help a child battling cancer. Adam is also member of the Allied Arts Council of Lake Havasu City that promotes the next generation of artists by awarding scholarships to young people who display talent in art, drama, dance, or music.
“I like art so much, and what I get to do,” Adam says. “More than anything, it’s a great feeling getting to be able to share my passion and to go to work every day and tattoo clients who trust me.”