Yankee Tattoo

Published: 17 March, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 134, June, 2006

I met a girl by the name of Heidi while covering the Granite City Tattoo Convention in Aberdeen in 2005.  She was a lovely girl who had the most amazing black and grey shaded fantasy Tattoo covering the whole of her back, which was visible to all under a backless dress.

I immediately caught her attention and asked her all the usual questions, wow! Who did that, bla, bla, bla… she was so enthusiastic about her Tattoo and all of her ideas and of course this amazing artist Derrick Young.I was like a kid in a sweetie shop when he brought in more of his subjects for me to drool over with my camera and of course meeting him was an honour. So after a lengthy time I made a trip to his Studio and he came down to my Studio and this was the result.  I will let Derrick explain the rest…

I was born in Wayne National Forest, in Athens County, South Eastern Ohio.  I grew up hunting, trapping and fishing.  My family were all ex miners and farmers, apart from my granddad who was a cop. I have been playing music (drums) since high school, went through lots and lots of bands then ended up playing bass with “Punishment”.  Later I started a band called Stillborn and we entered and won Battle of the Bands competition at the famous Al Rosa Villa.  Our prize was to open for the next big band that came through, fortunately enough for us it was Pantera.  How cool was that?!  Got to meet the guys in the band several times since then at various gigs.  Can’t believe Dime Bag is dead, and that he was killed at the very venue that I first met him in.  He was a cool guy.

Needless to say the rock star lifestyle got the better of a few of us and the band broke down, and up!  That’s when I realised that being a musician wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and headed for the exit.  Being the young entrepreneur that I was I got myself a job at the local rag, the Athens Messenger, in the mail room, for a couple of years then got a job as a doorman.  Once I had decided that that wasn’t for me I managed to get myself a tattoo apprenticeship.  I was an apprentice for a total of about Two years.  I got my foot in the Door with Mike Anderson and Cliff Handcock, who started me off and taught me the very basics of tattooing. Then there was D. Willy.  I met him after about 9 months after he returned from a short stint in England and I ended up joining him for the remainder of my apprenticeship, and worked with him for about another 5 years.  During this time I went through the mandatory courses to learn about the spreading of infectious diseases and blood borne pathogens, which really is the basis for knowing your canvas.  Boys being what they are, D. Willy got swept off his feet and got married and left and that’s when I left Athens, for Oxford, Ohio, and teamed up with the infamous Panama Red… Happy days!

I worked with him for 4 years, during which time we went to various conventions, biker rodeos and blew up the odd barn for entertainment.  Those were some really good times.  And in true yin-yang style that’s when I met my ex-wife.  Three years later we had a bouncing baby boy, but after 18 months the bitch stole him away to Scotland and here I am…

Having come to Scotland in 2002, I got started in Angel Art in Kirkcaldy, but soon acquired a shop in Cupar.  After a year of putting up with the hustle and bustle of the fast pace of life there I changed location to my current studio in Albert Street in Dundee, Yankee Tattoo, (appointments required, open from noon), where I head up a select crew of young artists trained by me.  The last year has seen another apprentice complete their training to become a working apprentice.  A first place prize in the Horror category at the Scottish Tattoo Convention in Perth last Halloween and the studio is going from strength to strength.  As a result of the booming trade we’re doing a relocation is on the cards to a property just a couple of doors down to a bigger studio, which should be complete by the end of the year, which can facilitate my sculptures and paintings that are going down a storm if I do say so myself.

I’ve always enjoyed painting, but the sculpting bug came later.  I’m a huge George Romero fan and love all those zombie flicks “They’re coming to get you Barbara!”  Yup, love it all. So I guess that comes out a lot in the types of tattoos and other art that I create.  Just check out the gallery on the website and you’ll see what I mean.  The sculptures are made primarily from clay and I prefer to paint in oils, you can play around a lot more with the pictures when you work with oils.  They take so long to dry that it’s easy to change or add bits to it without upsetting the flow of the piece.  I am working on a corpse piece at the moment, which should be ready in time for the next convention.  I’m not quite sure how it’s ‘gonna turn out yet, so it will be a surprise for all of us!  All the painting that I do can be bought out of the studio, and a lot of them have been sold but the pictures are still on the website, www.yankeetattoo.co.uk.

Give me your idea of what you want and with the aid of a surgical skin marker, a rotary machine and some magic fairy dust I’ll turn it into a work of art.  No need for smoke and mirrors, I really am that good!

I really like the fact that the customers I’ve had since coming to Scotland have allowed me a lot of room for my own artistic ideas when it comes to tattooing.  They can sometimes be a little sceptical at the beginning but once they see the end result these are the customers that come back time and time again and have given me free reign with their skin.  I love that, so thanks to them for trusting me and allowing me to do what I do best.

We are of course looking forward to the next Scottish Body Art Show in Perth 28th 29th October as it was a blast last year and we are hoping to win another of those lovely trophies to even up the studio awards display!

Special thanks and Hellos to Panama Red and Michelle, Johnny G, Too Tall, Thin Lizz and the boys.


Words & PHOTOs Derrick, Bribs and Mo


Skin Deep 134 1 June 2006 134