Rockeye69 on 06.07.15Chattanooga, Tn. USA
Hey guys. I was really intrigued by this thread and thought I might post. I've been reading in this forum for a bit, but this will be my first actual post.
I got my first tattoo back in 1989. I was 20 years old. It was just a simple tiny little heart with flames on it. Got it done by Dr. Tatu in Jonesboro Georgia and I remember it hurt so bad I nearly passed out. Lol. Anyway, I was so fascinated by the whole process. The guy worked in a small but clean shop all alone and was very professional.
Fast forward to 1992, I had decided I wanted to learn to tattoo. Not just a passing phase I was going through either. I was Freakin hooked HARD. I didn't talk or think about anything else. Just tattooing so after reading up a bit in some tattoo mags, (there was no internet at the time) lol. , I set out to do it right and find a professional to show me the right way. I found out the hard way that tattooists as a general rule are VERY private about what they do and not overly friendly when u ask for advice. Over a period of months I was thrown out and asked to leave every single tattoo shop in the area......but I was undeterred. If no one would show me how to tattoo then by God I would just teach myself. I saw an ad for Spaulding and Rogers on the back of a tattoo magazine. I tore it off, saved some money, and ordered a tattoo kit. I know that's taboo these days, but I had no idea and no other way. Anyway, my kit came with a book called "Tattooing A to Z", and I read that thing cover to cover at least 6 times before I ever even picked my machine, (a Revolution rotary) up. Now I know a lot of people look down on that book and I get it, but to tell u the truth, I learned ALOT of basic, easy to follow basics from it and I'll never deny that. Lol.
Anyway, fast forward a bit. I started tattooing my legs. I tattooed and tattooed and tattooed and tattooed. Eventually, it started looking like something and some people started noticing a little bit. As u may have guessed they would ask, "where did u get that tattoo?".......and so it went. I began to tattoo other people. At first for free and eventually stated to make a little money. All under the radar.
Eventually I tattooed a guy that knew a dude named Melvin that owned a trashy looking little tattoo shop on the edge of town. So he took me there to talk to the guy. Melvin let me tattoo in his shop as a "flash artist" meaning simply that I would tattoo small stuff from the wall. I was thrilled to do it and so I did for about a year or so until I had to move back to Tennessee where the laws are WAY more stringent than they were in Georgia. Even now Tennessee has some of the strictest laws governing tattooing in the U.S.
Anyway, when I decided I wanted to tattoo here, I tried to get in touch with Mel.......only to find out Mel had died and his shop closed. Wow. So right back to under the radar. It was during this period that I learned ALOT of stuff the HARD way. Fundamentals of coil machines, all the parts, what those parts did, why a thick or thin or long or short front spring or back spring, what the coils did, why the number of wraps mattered, stroke length, contact screw gap spacing, so on and so forth. Autoclaving, spore tests, what made good ink, bad ink, good suppliers, bad suppliers, so on and so forth. LOTS of money, LOTS of mistakes, but I learned SO much and wouldn't trade any of that experience for anything.
I really didn't mean to ramble on and there's a lot more to my story I swear, but I guess my point is, that so many people, (mostly tattooists that work in an established shops) are so DOWN on people that try and learn to tattoo on their own, branded "Scratchers", which is actually a derivative of a French term that came about in the old New York Bowery days.
Anyway, I guess my point is, try not to be so down on folks starting out. We've all been there and everyone's circumstances are different. Folks here seem to be a good bunch of people and that's really what we need more of in this business.
Thanks for listening......