Going Full Circle

As of August 2, 2016 I will be returning to Star Tattoo as a resident artist. Recently I found out that one of their artists was going to be leaving and a spot would be opening up. I jumped at the chance to go back and work with my first New Mexico tattoo family. When I left Ten Penny just last year it was to get out from under the heavy hand of business ownership and move forward with my art. At the time Star had a full roster of artists so I decided to move to King's Kreation because of their dedication to art and great tattoos. Leaving King's is not easy because of the great friends I've made there in the last seven months, but sometimes you need to follow what feels right. Basically I'm just going back to a place that I never wanted to leave in the first place.

Back in 2007 I moved here to Albuquerque to start a new life. The first thing I needed to do was find a job. Luckily there was a tattoo shop not too far from where I was living. So one day I walked in with some flash I had made and my tattoo portfolio. Jason Ward, owner and artist at Star, looked at my portfolio and took it to show to Chris Partain, the other owner. Within a few minutes I was told that I had a job there if I wanted it. I had no idea that I just lucked out and got a job on my first try at one of the best tattoo shops in Albuquerque!

I spent the next four years tattooing there and making some amazing friends. I was talked into opening a shop with two other partners and we followed through on the plan in Oct of 2011. Ten Penny Tattoo was born and I threw myself into it with all of my will. I was very proud of the shop we built and the way we handled our business. But after some time I found myself without any full time artists and a partner that was busy handling two other businesses. During the four years there I mentored two apprentices to help me keep the doors open. Unfortunately it takes years to build a solid clientele and our walk in business wasn't strong enough to get them going. Both eventually moved on to much busier shops with my blessing and understanding. Finally the pressure of making ends meet became too much and I had to move on to greener pastures.

When I decided I had to move on the biggest question was, where? There's a lot of really good tattoo shops in Albuquerque, but I had to find somewhere where I would feel most comfortable. Star was full at the time so I had to look elsewhere. I wanted a place that was focused on art and would allow me to continue working in the way I do. I had met Jason Smith and Angelia Santistevan, owners and artists at King's Kreation Tattoo, a few times at the Art Fusion For a Cause hosted by Archetype Tattoo and really enjoyed talking with them. I found that they were as passionate about art as I was and that it was the key to being successful as a tattooer in this age of our industry. My decision was simple, King's was where I needed to go. Since being here I have produced more paintings in seven months than I have in the last few years. Jason and Angelia gave me a calm and quiet place to work and I can't thank them enough for their generosity.

The reason for going back to Star is simply this, they are a premier shop that has a steady stream of new clients every day. From a business standpoint it's the best decision to make. It just so happens that it is staffed with folks that I consider to be friends, good friends. I'm very excited to be back with them and look forward to the rest of my career. Many of you have already expressed how happy you are that I'll be back on your side of town. I'm very fortunate to say that a huge part of my clientele has followed me on my circuit around Albuquerque. Thank you to all that did, you kept me alive during those years. And to those that didn't follow me, I don't blame you. You were loyal to Star, a place where you can pick any artist on staff and walk out with an amazing tattoo. That's a smart choice.

So now I've gone full circle here in New Mexico, a place I never thought I'd be. I've always said that you could drop me anywhere on the face of the planet and I'll be fine by the end of the week. So far that has been true. But it's not something I do alone. I do it by finding good people along the way and staying focused on survival and success. If you look at my path from overhead you could say I've gone full circle, but change the view to profile and you'll see that it's been more of a roller coaster. I can gladly say that I didn't throw up once or get dizzy in the slightest. Thanks!


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