BAW: What or who inspired you
to want to become a
JS: My inspirations for becoming a Tattooist
were a combination of punk rock music and Ed Hardy's Tattootime. The latter was the first
time I ever saw really good tattoos.
BAW: Who are your influences and
who do you trust with your own ink?
JS: I have been influenced by numerous
talented tattooist, both living and dead, including Paul Rogers. I've also been inspired
by the artwork and flash of the old timers. As for the artists that are still around, I'm
very partial to Hori Yoshi III, Mike Wilson, Marcus Pacheco, and so many others. I have
been fortunate enough to be tattooed by all three of them, as well as Tim Lehi, Jeff
Whitehead, Clay Decker, Permanent Mark, Washo, Hori Ken, and Dave Lum. I'd also like to
mention the important work that C. W. Eldridge is doing with he Tattoo Archive.
BAW: Do you have a particular artist you would be interested in
working with or meeting?
JS: Unfortunately, again, so many of the
amazing classic tattooers were gone before I even came around. However, the good thing
about the tattoo community is that artists are very often readily available and I've been
able to meet and work with so many amazing people.
BAW: What is your favorite style of work?
JS: That's a split between traditional
American and Japanese. I'm really interested in anything backed up by tradition, styles
that have stood the test of time. There's a reason that they have endured, and people keep
returning to them because they're so good.
BAW: Tell us about the first tattoo you gave? It was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. I almost
puked. It was a tribal dragon on my buddy, Matt in San Luis Obispo. Despite the tension,
the tattoo itself healed up nicely.
BAW: What is your most memorable / outrageous tattoo given and why?
JS: One balmy Southern California day, an
"alternative lifestyle couple" (whom I'd been previously warned about) came into
my shop. The woman was a mousy dominatrix in her mid-40s with braces and bad hair. Her
gentleman companion looked like a woodshop teacher (crew cut and glasses, complete with
missing index finger). The tattoos were arranged by Miss Mousy, and were received by Mr.
Woodshop. Day 1: On his diaper-rash covered groin: "mommy's itsy bitsy, teensy weensy
little baby" ("baby" was spelled out in baby blocks). Day 2: Our favorite
couple returns for the following inscribed across his entire ass cheek: "my mouth is
a complete and utter toilet for my mistress to deposit her golden champagne and caviar
into". One could hardly forget that! (And I swear it's completely true. Sometimes I
really love LA!)
BAW: Have you ever inked anyone famous and what type of work did you
do on them?
JS: Tom Araya, lead singer of metal band,
SLAYER. One of the nicest guys I've ever met. Tom got two dragons on his wrist and a big
haida eagle on his chest.
BAW: What could you say was or is your greatest technical challenge in
JS: It's really that, despite all of the
information that's out there,
customers sometimes just don't get it. You know, sometimes they'll get the biggest piece
of crap put on them just because it's $40 cheaper. There's an old saying that goes,
"cheap tattoos aren't good, and good tattoos aren't cheap". Nuff said.
BAW: Is there a part of the body you won't Tattoo and why?
BAW: Do you support supply co. that sell to the public?
JS: Nope, again.
BAW: Do you feel that there now should be mandatory schooling for soon
to be tattoo artists?
JS: If you're talking about bloodborne
pathogens, CPR, and OSHA regulations, yes.
BAW: Do you feel Tattooing has changed over the years, and if so why?
JS: Yes, it has changed. The big reason is
it's renewed popularity, and this is both good, and bad. It's good because there's so much
information available as far as what's possible, and what artists are capable of. If
people do their homework, there's really no excuse for getting a bad tattoo. Also, the
inks and procedures from sterilization to healing are so much better. The negative side is
that there's a tattoo shop on every corner, and they're not all worth stepping in to. So,
not only do you see more GOOD work out there, but you see just as much scratch.
BAW: Do you think it is important to do as many conventions and shows
as possible and if you do attend do you make it a point to attend guest lectures and
JS: For me, the conventions are really about
seeing old friends and catching up, as well as meeting the other artists.
BAW: Do you support artists that can not technically draw but can
trace and shade a tattoo stencil?
JS: I support those people as long as they
know their limitations. There will always be customers who want nothing more than a piece
of flash. That's perfectly fine. Fortunately, with the profusion of magazines and
websites, the customers can educate themselves (hopefully), and find the right person to
do the custom pieces.
BAW: What advise can you give to someone who is starting or looking to
get into the tattoo business?
JS: Really, they need to be aware that the
market is flooded. There are so many tattooist working (and not working), both good and
bad, that really only the outstanding new artists have much of a chance for success.
Really, persistence will be their best ally, and only time will tell.