Name? Cody Gower
Shop? Against the grain tattoo
Location? Smyrna TN
You’re only 30 years, old, yet you’ve already been tattooing for 11 years. What inspired you to jump into tattooing so early?
Honestly, it was my only goal in life. I was 12 years old, growing up around a local tattoo shop and the owner told me if I kept at my art I could tattoo one day. After that, there was no plan B. Tattoo or bust.
How old were you when you opened your shop?
Running a business isn’t easy. Was it a struggle to stay on top of the business side of things while maintaining your chops as an artist?
At first yes. I’m fortunate now. I have a solid crew to help me make things easier. It’s a team effort among us and without the guys with me, the shop and myself would not be where we are.
Tell us a little about your relationship with Axys Rotary.
I’m one of Axys Rotary’s sponsored artists. They’re an amazing company run by two equally amazing people named Dan and Gisella. They actually care . . . not just about their team either but everyone who uses their products. Your following means nothing to them. It’s who you are as a person and that goes a long way.
Can we assume that you aren’t “loyal to the coil”?
While I respect coils, I’m not anymore. Rotaries are helping my hands last.
You came into the industry right at the evolutionary cusp between the “old school” and the “new school.” From your vantage point, what has improved and what have we maybe lost along the way?
The improvement is artists are more together and willing to share knowledge. 10-15 years ago, you couldn’t go hover over an artist in another shop down the street. Now I have dinner with the local guys and hang out with them all the time. What was lost is respect. The younger generation is not willing to pay their dues. They expect to be just doing amazing tattoos and doing the style they are inspired by without putting in the work to get their ability to match their want.
What, in your opinion is the most pivotal issue in the tattoo industry currently?
Honestly, the exposure of the artists who are taking advantage of the clients. Clients trust us to not put them in uncomfortable positions and not be a total piece of shit. World famous and FK Irons recently removed a guy for DM’ing his ‘stuff’ to female clients. Not cool, captain. Not every client wants to fuck you.
Word around the industry is that you’re completely straight edge. Is that true?
Man, its funny. I am, but unlike straight edge people I don’t use the title. ‘Edge’ people tend to be judgy. Other people drinking or smoking doesn’t affect me but I won’t do it. It’s not my thing.
Any closing remarks?
How you carry yourself is everything in this business. Too many people focus on their image in social media’s eye, but its what not what do you when people are watching. Its what you do when people aren’t around. Be the standard in this industry. Set the bar. This business deserves so much more than what its been getting lately.