The Japanese Tattoo In 1997 and 1998 I visited Japan to tattoo and learn. It was a trip that shaped the rest of my career.  I brought home 2 suitcases of books that I purchased while traveling. From these books and my experience in Japan, my love for the Japanese tattoo was born.  Over my…

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Becoming Heavily Tattooed. Swapping stories about getting your first tattoo is fun.  It’s a lot like bagging about fishing tales or near death experiences.  Your nerves overestimated the environment and the adjectives don’t quite capture the maximum effect your trying to articulate.  There is a feeling that the only way someone else can understand is…

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The common tattooist in the marketplace relies heavily on Instagram and Facebook.  While the tools of social media have simplified the process to get your name out into the market, they are not without their draw backs. Let us think of Instagram as a link in the chain for driving new clients to a contact…

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What is Tattooing? How do we explain the tattoo life?  Sometimes it feels like arguing over the genre of your favorite band. It has changed faces so many times in the last few decades. It even reveals itself differently to people.  It has grown beyond a counterculture movement. As the price of admission lowers, the…

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The common business model for tattooing is the Street Shop.  It was originally an Apprentice based program for all new hires.  The single new hire relied on the mentorship of the owner to be trained from the ground up. In return, the novice artist paid him back with a 50 percent stake of all labor…

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Humans have had rituals for years.  Rituals mark the end or a beginning. It is a time to put your mind and body at one and to be consciously in the moment.  Examples would be graduating from college, getting married or how we prepare our morning coffee.  The Masons are famous for there secretive rituals. …

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Smokey Mountains

Matt Hodel hiking Gregory’s Bald In April of 2018 I awoke on a Gregory’s Bald in the Smokey Mountains.  The altitude gave me a headache and the morning air made me sick.  I didn’t take time to make a cup of instant coffee before morning light.  As I walked in through the scatted trees, every…

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The traditions of tattooing have been deeply rooted in the echoes of time. If you meet anyone who has been tattooing for more than 15 years, they will tell you how things used to be. Truly, tattooing has changed and evolved from the sponge and bucket days. With many progressive features being most noticeable on…

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Putting the extra into your hard work is what makes you rise to the top. Nothing will be given to you. What is amazing is how many people will come to help you once you have started to help yourself. I have found that staying in motion is the key to advancing my career. This…

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In 1995 there were 14 tattoo shops from O’fallon, Illinois to O’fallon, Missouri. In 1998 there were 40. With each shop averaging 3 artists working in house, that would equal 78 new jobs for tattoo artists in three years. That is almost a 300% increase in the industry. As impressive as those numbers are, where…

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Tips for the Freshman Tattooist. Its has been said that you haven’t been tattooing until your fifth year is complete. This is when you get to see your old tattoos healed. It takes that long for your tattoos to settle. Until then, your first 5 years are very important. Here is some advice. Take it…

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Emotionally driven tattoos When a loved one passes away, the feelings of helplessness washes over us. The desire to “do something” gnaws at our heartstrings. Tattooing has always been the ultimate act. The one thing you can do that truly lasts a lifetime. Just getting a tattoo is a statement within itself so it is…

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Measuring success. What is your barometer for success? What are your benchmarks to get there? Have you been making progress? As self employed practitioners of the tattoo arts, we enjoy a rebellious reaction to those outside our craft. We boast of travel and freedom while we enjoy a walk of life that few will understand.…

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Your reward is a byproduct. The fastest route is a straight line: unless you’re so focused on the destination that you fall off the path. This happens when you are trying so dang hard to succeed. Sometimes we get so obsessed that we micro manage the entire journey. Have you ever counted calories or tracked…

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“I just love my tattoo! It was fast and efficient!” -nobody ever Why. Why do I want to rally the troops? Why do I want to reach out to artists? Because times have changed. The product is no longer the institutional names of big shops but the future solely relies on the individual tattoo artist…

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People cancel their appointments. This is a simple fact of business. I do not take offense to a cancelation. Do you want to know why? I love my clients. I love hanging out with them and I put them before myself. If someone needs to cancel I do not penalize them or beat them down…

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In a perfect world I would sit in a small cabin and draw pictures that made me giggle all day. Here are some ink and digital pictures I drew last year or so.

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My SELFJournal has a few parts to it. There is an opening of the day that includes writing your Itinerary, a Gratitude lList, Targets and daily Goals. Upon closing the day, you write Lessons Learned, Wins and another Gratitude List. The journal has helped me to take a daily inventory of myself and my actions.…

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What we do is not secret. Secrecy has been considered a value in the tattoo culture. It has been such a tradition to guard all of your information that we pretend we are sitting on a wealth of knowledge that only the entitled are privy to. If you know me, I constantly challenge the standards…

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Sometimes I feel so swamped drawing new tattoos for clients that I forget how much I have done. They say if you wanna have self esteem, do something to be esteemed about! I’m posting this as a reminder to lift my head from the grind and appreciate what I do and who I have met.…

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The Bastards of Art Movement   Last year I had the idea to try a podcast.  I wrangled Jon Fournier into the project and together we recorded 24 episodes that were released weekly. Together we learned a lot.  I think the most positive part of the project was forcing ourselves to articulate what we do…

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