The True Tattoo Artist

NATHAN HODEL, of the Arizona Cardinals , in action during the Cardinals game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 7, 2008 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco 49ers win 23-13

NATHAN HODEL, of the Arizona Cardinals , in action during the Cardinals game against the San Francisco 49ers

When Nathan was ask what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said “A professional baseball player”. His fourth grade teacher told him to pick something real. I think this pushed him harder. She was right that he wouldn’t become a Ballplayer. My brother ended up spending 9 years with the Arizona Cardinals, with the second most consecutive starts only to Dan Dierdorf who holds the title of the most.

My brother is a true Athlete. My brother played in the Super Bowl in 2008. Nathan dedicated his soul to sports. He played sports with love, passion and a desire to be the best he could be. I believe he was in competition with no one other than himself. My brother gave 110% in every condition of the game. I once saw him receive 2 IV’s simultaneously to rehydrate from the flu so he could play against the 49’s. “Don’t sacrifice what you want for what you want right now” That was his favorite quote.

I would say a person who lacks the passion, desire and commitment will never achieve this level of performance based on talent alone.

In the course of 20 years, I have worked and traveled to more than 40 shops. I have worked with hundreds of tattoo artists. Out of all those tattooist, only a few have had the spirit of a True Tattoo Artist.

A True Tattoo Artist has something special about them, they seem more focused than the rest of their peers. The first thing I would notice about an artist on a mission is a curiosity and a constant stream of questions. You can see the brain trying to put all the pieces together. While their peers play, the young artist struggling to unlock tattooing.

When you work with someone who is driven, the effect they have on you is undeniable. You will either hate them for raising the bar so high, or join them. Ambition breeds Ambition. The true tattoo artist will seek out other true tattoo artists.

What makes this kind of artist so driven is quest to be stronger than the day before. Quite often they are setting personal goals to reach. After achieving them, an empty feeling will be replaced by a new goal set higher. A strong artist is always in competition with themselves.

In order to smash these goals a lot of sacrifice will be made. The artist will not have the fun others are enjoying out of life. Spending too much time away from the path will feel uncomfortable. They may not be able to commit to bowling leagues or weekend getaways. Anything that is not a part of their pursuit will feel like a distraction.

As the true tattoo artist gets older their social skills may decline. They have not had much practice at social functions and feel like a fish out of water. Instead they have used the last 20 years to gather information pertinent to their personal pursuit. This doesn’t make for great conversation although when the artist finds someone who is like minded, they will waste no time trying to share what they have learned. This is what makes a True Tattoo Artist unique is that they will give so freely the information they have acquired to someone who has decided to take the same path. A true artist knows ”Teach once, learn twice.”

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