Originally from northern Indiana, I moved to Florida for my high school years. A few years after graduation found me looking for my next move. “Go West” seemed like a good choice and I headed off to Mardi Gras. A couple years went by, working as a security guard and/or a D.J. in several strip clubs and bars in the French Quarter, where I met the man to bring me into the business, David “Viper” Nieto. Always drawing in my spare time, I found I could make extra cash selling the designs to “Viper” who soon offered me an apprenticeship. After a couple more years ( I kept putting it off) I was brought out of the Quarter and into the tattoo business as an apprentice by “Viper”. A year later, 4-20-1998, I started my professional career.
When I started attending conventions and being able to take seminars was a turning point in my career. The things I learned at the very first one gave me the tools and confidence to enter one of my clients in the next years “2000 New Orleans Tattoo Voodoo” tattoo competition and went home with the “Best Overall Male” trophy. That lit a fire under my ass and I kept attending seminars and talking to other tattooists, entering other tattoo competitions, some times winning, sometimes not, and generally learning as much as I could from each experience.
Then catastrophes struck. The shop was broken into. Almost all of my tools were stolen, but enough equipment was missed to get money up and start all over again. Orders were coming in soon and all would be well, until next week and Hurricane Katrina.
All orders were subsequently lost. Me and the wife had evacuated to our favorite vacation spot, Cherokee, N.C. Then the levees broke and we had no place to stay, or work. After meeting some really great people and seeing their tattoos I scouted all the tattoo studios in the area. My first choice, Indian Ink, had an open spot a month or so later and I feel very lucky to be here among some fantastic tattooists and to be able to continue my never ending learning experience.