I own Pigment Dermagraphics and Fine Art in Austin Texas and I specialize in bright, bold, colorful, new school work.
It never occurred to me that growing up would actually be difficult. When I was a kid, school was the most important part of my day, yet it was always a breeze. I just seemed to be that kid that made good grades without really struggling. The truth is that even though it was easy, I was never really passionate about it. I was always told by my family that I would grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer, but I never had the required devotion for either career path. I guess that somewhere along the line I developed a passion for artistic expression that I feared would always be just a simple hobby.
When I was in third grade, a boy sat next to me in social studies and drew a robot on a scrap of notebook paper. I was stunned at the way it looked and It compelled me to pick up my pencil. I don't recall ever drawing before that moment. I am certain, however, that I had spent my fair share of time with crayolas. Whatever it was about that robot, it inspired me, and from that point I was unstoppable. I began sketching out robots of my own., which quickly led to the creation of a few dragons. My main subject matter revolved around a comic book character named Buzz Beamer and the Sega Genesis character Sonic the Hedgehog, and I became an expert at the two.
I moved on through the grades while slowly developing my artistic ability, but sadly, I always kept artwork on the backburner. Looking back, I think I was afraid that I might not be as good of an artist as I thought. My own lack of self confidence led me to avoid taking art classes and really giving my art a chance. I sat back and made doodles on post it notes while other kids smeared acrylics on canvas and sketched out charcoal masterpieces. I think that is the only regret I have in my life.
In high school I became rebellious. I wore baggy jeans and died my hair funky colors, but most importantly, I planned my first tattoo. I sketched for months until I had the perfect design, and I was certain that I would have no trouble hiding it from mom. The tattoo looked impressive to an eighteen year old, and instantly I was a success. Seniors from all over the school began approaching me with their ideas, and I became the go to guy for your tattoo design. I drew a small tribal design for a friend a few weeks later and he asked if I planned to be a tattoo artist when I finished school. As the thought crossed my mind, I became disgusted by the thought of becoming the stereotypical tattooist. So I replied with a firm "no."
Graduation came and went, and I left home to make something of myself. I was college bound and ready to do great things, but I underestimated the challenges ahead. I spent one full semester at one of the most expensive schools in the state of Texas, and I headed home empty handed. My problem wasn't that I partied too much, it was that I simply didn't have that passion that is needed to actually try. I dropped out of college with a mountain of debt and a wounded ego, but I was determined to make it on my own.
I rented an apartment in Houston in January of 2003 and immediately began throwing parties. The parties began to get bigger and bigger until I finally came to my senses and realized that I was not living a decent life. In may of 2003, my mom drove me to the recruiters office and I enlisted into the United States Air Force. I made a choice to better myself, and that is exactly what I was determined to do. After basic training, I was stationed in Abilene, TX and I worked my way into an apprenticeship at a new local shop. I didn't think that I would be able to cut it as a tattoo artist, but Thankfully, the owner was willing to give me a chance. I worked on an apprenticeship for two months until the owner of the shop decided that I was ready to start taking clients. Apparently, I had taught myself everything I needed to know. I immediately became cocky about my work and decided that I was the best artist in the town. I talked myself up to everyone I met, but when I got in an argument with my boss and quit, I realized that I was wrong.
I worked in my first professional tattoo shop for nearly two years, but I was no where near what anyone should consider a professional tattoo artist. I went to the one shop in town that I admired and inquired about a job, but the owner simply told me that I was not ready. He sat down with me for a while and showed me a few concepts that I needed to work on. I attempted to put his advice into action, but it wasn't until a few months later when he tattooed my leg, that I was able to see his advice working. My tattoos immediately changed . every piece I did from then on became more in depth to me. I started focusing on making my tattoos jump off the skin. I started adding in subtle white highlights and attempting new backgrounds.
About five months later I was given a job offer by the same artist that inspired me to improve my work. I left my old street shop and moved into a more custom oriented shop that was focused on the quality of art, as opposed to the amount of money. The new environment was certainly inspiring and my work began to take an even more dramatic turn. I began trying new things and looking up to some truly amazing artists for reference. I learned that I shouldn't pretend to be as good as those amazing artists, but I should humble myself and learn from them.
After spending nine months at the new shop, my Air Force career ended and I left Abilene. I packed up my family and moved to Austin, TX where I took a job with a local street shop in an attempt to build up my own clientelle. The owner of the shop eventually got word that I was hoping to open my own shop one day, and without even having the money to do so, he fired me. At first I was angry that I was fired, but I took the opportunity to search for invesotrs and move forward with opening my own shop. On December 11, 2009, I opened the doors to my own tattoo studio. Pigment Dermagraphics and Fine Art is a high end custom tattoo studio with a focus on producing the best quality artwork.
I still live in Austin, TX, where I work as a full time tattoo artist at my studio while working on a masters degree. I am constantly striving to improve my work, and I take steps daily to produce the best tattoos possible. No piece can ever be truly perfect, but it is my goal to make every tattoo as close to perfect as possible. After all, tattooing is not about money to me. Of course, I have to pay the bills, but creating something amazing is the force that drives my creativity and makes and ordinary tattoo into something great.