It’s hard to know where to begin when I am asked about my artistic background. I’ve literally been an artist my entire life. So, for the purpose of this biography, I’ll stick to my tattoo history.
I scored an apprenticeship in the year 2000 as a requirement for my bachelor’s degree. I was attending the Northwest College of Art in Poulsbo, WA and I was in the position of acquiring an Internship. A tattoo apprenticeship is essentially an internship in the tattoo industry which in turn gave me the college credit that I needed in order to complete my degree. I apprenticed at your basic street shop in downtown Olympia, WA.
The shop, at the time had two tattoo artists, one of which owned the place. They both had good reputations (as far as I knew). I was immediately thrown into a fully functioning tattoo shop and expected to perform and deliver after the owner had merely glanced at my portfolio a couple of times. In fact, I remember feeling irritated because he looked through my work so quickly. At the time I was mostly oil painting and working with graphite. I definitely was not tattooing. My “apprenticeship”, if one could call it that, was a “crash course” in the world of tattooing. In retrospect, I wish I had sought out someone who would have offered me more of a traditional style apprenticeship. Being taught the fundamentals of tattooing, just with any art form, is essential for growth. I can’t say for certain how long I was an “apprentice” for, since I was tattooing paying customers immediately. (For all you “would be” tattooers out there, I do not recommend or condone this approach to tattoo apprenticeships. Tattooing is an incredibly difficult medium, it is also a surgical procedure with many risks if not performed correctly by a licensed tattoo artist.)
Tattooing started opening doors for me as a professional artist. I then took my new found art/trade to California. It was the year 2003. I scored a chair in another street shop in Oxnard, CA. This was an entirely new environment than I was used to, being from Washington State. It was to be my first real taste of working outside my comfort zone. I learned an incredible amount of the art of tattooing and the tattoo industry in general. I worked side by side with some phenomenal tattooers, opening my mind and expanding my understanding of tattooing.
Eventually California was wearing me out; however. I grew homesick. I packed up and went back to Washington, to my home town Olympia. I got in touch with my old “mentor” via email. He had informed me that in addition to the Olympia shop, had opened up a sister shop in Palm Bay, FL. He asked me if I’d be willing to work for him in Florida. So a month or two after moving back to Olympia from California, I packed my car up and was making the drive to Florida.
After a little more than a year of tattooing in Palm Bay, the owner of the shop got word that shady business practices were going on in the shop in Washington as well as money gone missing. He was worried, and he had to do something about it. Since I was totally familiar with the shop already, (being that it was the shop I apprenticed in), and he knew he could also trust me, I was asked if I’d like to run Washington for him. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and was making the drive back to Washington. I made the 3200 mile drive in 3 and a half days; alone. That’s how excited I was to get started.
In 2005, during my newly found “promotion” the shop was sold. The shop was sold to a very
talented tattooer who was originally from California, but was in Florida, where he met the owner of “my” shop. He was itching to move back to the west coast apparently, and had also recently come into money from an inheritance. Bam, just like that the shop I had apprenticed in, and was now running was sold.
The new owner of the shop, being completely immersed in a new environment, along with his new found wealth, and his irresponsible attitude started getting into trouble. The shop was becoming lower and lower on his priority list. I felt like I was on a “sinking ship”, everything had climaxed and the shop was in question. Would the doors stay open? One night alone at the shop, no one to tattoo, wondering, worrying, by myself, I get a phone call. It was some dude, who was from Centralia, about 30 min south of Olympia. He explained that he was a “business” man, and wanted to start a tattoo shop. He was currently the landlord of a tattoo shop down in Centralia that I totally knew of. This man asked me about myself and where I came from. After a fairly long conversation, longer than I usually can have with a complete stranger, we decided to arrange a meeting to discuss the possibility of opening a tattoo shop.
The year was 2006. The only thing I knew of this guy was what he told me on the phone. With nothing to loose I arranged a meeting with him. He and his wife came down to the shop. We got to know each other a bit, and then he started to pitch this idea to me. He owned buildings in Centralia, one of which had a tattoo shop, a very successful tattoo shop. He was in the process of evicting this shop for reasons that he had never disclosed, not that I was smart enough to ask. Being their landlord, as well as living in a house right behind the shop, he noticed the business potential was there in tattooing. There was only one thing holding him back from opening a shop for himself, he had absolutely no knowledge of the tattoo world. That’s why he was getting in touch with tattoo artists. I was the only one he contacted that seemed remotely interested in his idea.
In my mind the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was bummed about “my” shop changing hands, and I was put in the position of having no other options. The opportunity was there to start my own shop. This guy would be the money and I would be the creativity and the knowledge of the tattoo industry. A partnership was born, and in 2007 we opened Fine Art Tattoo in Centralia, WA.
Despite a couple “hiccups” when opening, we still got on track and we were actually making money. I was the only one tattooing; however. I needed someone else to satisfy the demand. We started looking for tattooers. I also was looking for a piercer. I had a piercer at the time but he wasn’t a good fit for my vision of Fine Art Tattoo. The professionalism just wasn’t there.
We were introduced to a piercer, who was semi new to the area, and who was also starting his own path as a tattooer by the name of Alex Cook. We thought , sweet “two birds”… We met and hired him. It was an obvious choice. Or maybe our only choice. Its hard to say, but one things for sure, he was, and is a bad ass piercer, and after he gave me a tattoo, he was hired as a tattooer as well.
In 2008, my business partner had moved him and his family to Florida. The same year he had opened a sister shop in Tampa. At this point, I was working with Alex for about two years in Washington building Fine Art Tattoo. We had employed a couple other artists at the time. It was a fully functioning tattoo shop, with more than enough business. I attribute to being a completely custom shop. Every one who works for us must be able to “draw on the fly”. I have also always held a very high standard of treating people with respect. Every single persons idea has merit, it’s up to the artists to understand the clients vision and realize it more thoroughly than they themselves could ever imagine. That belief has always kept me a busy tattooer. The experience of getting the tattoo is just as, and even more, in some cases, important than the tattoo itself. From first walking in the shop, and explaining an idea, to putting on the bandage. The entire experience is what people will remember. The tattoo is just a good reminder of an experience of getting the tattoo and for what reasons. I want that experience to be a good one.
Fine Art Tattoo was successful. We also had the added excitement of my business partner opening a sister shop across country. Since Fine Art Tattoo was going strong, and me always being a bit of a wanderer, the possibility of moving to Tampa to tattoo was too strong to ignore. I decided to move to Tampa. Alex would run Fine Art Tattoo and I’ll go see what Tampa had to offer.
After a year in Tampa, I needed to move back to Washington. My beautiful baby girl Kennedy was almost here, and I wanted her born in Washington. Although moving back was a lot easier said than done, namely we had no money. My business partner, being the “snake in the grass” I had slowly and painfully become aware of, knew of my need and offered to buy me out of Fine Art Tattoo to give us money to get back to Washington. I sold my share of Fine Art Tattoo to him as cheap as you would expect someone in the desperate state we were in. We were able to move back to Washington.
I saw coming back to Washington as a new chapter opening in my life. I had a new baby on the way and I was ready to jump back into tattooing and make a living for my family. Even though I had sold my shares of Fine Art Tattoo, I was still able to work there. My now ex business partner, being in Florida, Fine Art Tattoo was essentially our shop to do what we wanted with still. I wasn’t entirely disappointed for selling the shop.
I arrive in Washington, to a shadow of the inspired shop I left. Completely due to my partners utter neglect of taking care of the business side of things which was his duty. He was so immersed with his shops in Florida, he completely neglected Washington. Stuff like not paying electricity, phone or water bills. There was never any real form of book keeping. It was a wonder how we were still open and doing well. Despite the overall bad moral of the shop, they were still doing tattoos and they still upheld a good name around town. Alex, as well as the other guys always upheld the standards that set us aside from other shops. Being approachable and doing awesome tattoos.
With Alex and myself having lost faith in the now sole owner of Fine Art Tattoo, and me just moving back eager to tattoo made us realize something. Alex and I started to toy with the idea of opening our own shop. The idea, with the help of Alex’s beautiful wife and now our business partner,
quickly seemed more and more possible.
We conceived as well as opened the doors of Lucky no.3 Tattoo Company all within a month in 2010. We secured a location in historic downtown Centralia, WA. Perfect for our needs, with landlords who were willing to accommodate us. Things fell in to place perfectly. It was almost like it was predetermined. We had clientele immediately since we were merely opening a brand new shop in the community who was already stoked to get tattooed by us.
I am so grateful to have Alex and Dani Cook as business partners who remain to uphold and set the same standard as I/we have always had in a quality tattoos with a great experience. This has now become our mantra for Lucky no.3, “Setting the Standard”.
It is currently 2018, or at least it was when I wrote this Bio and we are still killing it. We have become a staple in the community, doing charitable events and being involved with community activities. There have been several newspaper articles and local publications about us. We’ve been asked and have participated in the Southwest Washington Fair that comes through every year. We are producing beautiful tattoos every day, with award winning, top notch artists, (you know who you are), and we have only just started. Many, many thanks to the beautiful people who get tattooed and the tattoo artists putting forth the extra time and effort to produce an extraordinary tattoo every single day. For those people we have only just met, and the old ones we’ve known for a very long time. Thank you everyone.