Posted June 12th, 2016
It seems like the oldest question mankind has asked is “what is the meaning of life?” Philosophers and theologians spend their entire lives trying to solve this question. Why are we here? What is our purpose? It can drive you completely insane. Yet you can’t help but dwell on it from time to time.
We all want to know what our individual purpose is. What role do we play on this chunk of rock hurtling through space? In the vast scope of it, it’s easy to say we serve no purpose. Our lives have no meaning. And to a degree, I agree with that. Life is meaningless, everything sucks, and the only certainties in life are pain and inevitable death. Pain and death are completely unavoidable. These things are bound to happen, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Chances are, unless you’re one of the very few prolific people who affects change on a global scale, you will be forgotten within a couple of generations. All of your life’s work for nothing.
So where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with the certainty of death and impermanence. It also leaves us with the fact that we have to go through this life, regardless of whether it has meaning or not. You could spend that time in selfish pursuit, seeking out pleasures and hedonistic desires, but it never brings any peace. That question of your purpose will still linger when you are on your death bed, and then you will reflect on the life you led.
There is another option though. If we examine what happens throughout the course of a person’s life, it always boils down to the relationships we build, and the affect that has on others. So we may not be a famous and prolific actor, or writer, or politician, but we will be a brother, or husband, or father. The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your relationships. It is the pursuit of your love and joy. It is helping others achieve their goals. In helping other people, we find a connection with them. We find respect, and a mutual understanding of our benefit to one another. This radiates to the people they know. And the people they know, and so on, and so on. We are all connected.
Our lives may serve no great and epic purpose. We may not experience an afterlife, or reincarnation, and we may just go in the ground when we die. We won’t know until that day comes. But in the interim, we can experience a life of compassion, and our success will not be measured by the zeros in our bank accounts, or pages in a history book. Our success will be measured on our integrity, and how we treated other people. There is no greater meaning to life, than living a life of great meaning. You are a hero to someone. Be that hero.
Posted June 5th, 2016
It’s in stock! I finally got my shit together and put out another sketchbook, with the help of the good people over at Kingpin Tattoo Supply. I drew this entire sketchbook with pens taken from the bank. Every single sketch. This baby is around 60 pages of complete and utter nonsense, along with liner notes on design, but mostly rambling brain dribbles. Just nonsense, I say.
Aside from the mass amount of randomness within it, this book is very valuable to the artist as it displays many examples of working multiple design concepts into one image. Every tattooer knows that clients often come to us with a wide variety of themes they would like to include in one tattoo, so it can be quite a challenge. Regularly sketching exercises and pulling yourself outside of your comfort zone can help keep the creativity flowing for those of us who tend to get caught up in trying to work in a singular style.
This book is not a book of flash, and the designs within are not meant to be tattooed, but rather to serve as inspiration, and hopefully help someone who may be caught in a slump. If nothing else, you can probably get a good chuckle out of it. You can pick it up while you’re cruising my site, or just click HERE
Posted May 22nd, 2016
I’ve been asked many times in the past to put together a seminar on cover ups. At the time, I felt I hadn’t established my career enough, and I didn’t think I could properly convey what it was that I was doing. Today I feel that my client base and work has been established to a point where I would feel comfortable with sharing that knowledge. I’ve had 10 years to work specifically on cover up technique, and I’ve been able to see how the work ages. I’ve spent countless hours expanding my grasp of the cover up tattoo, and furthering my understanding of the techniques and mechanics behind it. The only problem is, I am no longer in a position to work the convention circuit.
Since I am not planning on picking up convention travel, I have decided to put together a private, one on one cover up seminar. It will be available to professional tattoo artists who already have a solid portfolio that displays clean linework, solid color, smooth blends, and a firm understanding of both color, and light and shadow. The techniques I will be showing are advanced and require an applied knowledge of many aspects of tattooing, so this will not be for beginners.
I know I will be covering layout and design, freehand and stenciling, palette selection, color theory, light and shadow, and technique, as well as machine and needle selection. All of this will be gone over while I prepare and execute a complex cover up, and all questions will be answered. The seminar will run between 7-10 hours depending on the tattoo I’m doing, and you’ll get full access to me for the entire day. We’ll bro down and eat tacos and shit.
So I’m in the process of putting together the actual curriculum. I want to make sure I cover all bases, and people will have literature to take home as well. I would love any feedback or suggestions of what you’d like to know. The more I can have ready, the more benefit I can be. I think this is a way for me to give back to the community that has treated me so well for the past 18 years.
Posted May 1st, 2016
I’m going to be off topic this week and talk about addiction. When a person is suffering from addiction, they cause untold harm to the people around them. Everyone knows that when you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your decision making can get pretty impaired. What a lot of people don’t fully understand is that for the addict, with their prolonged, regular exposure to the slew of chemicals they intake, cognitive function is constantly severely impaired. Even when they’re not under the influence, addicts walk around unable to use critical thinking and rational decision making skills.
Intoxicants impair the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is in charge of our higher functions of reason and logic. It allows us to make decisions based on rational thought. If you impair the function of the frontal lobe, the brain will naturally fall back on the limbic system, which is the area of the brain that gives us pleasure, and basic emotional response. This is why drunk people are often overly sad or happy or angry. With the addict, the limbic system has been hijacked by the addictive substance, and the brain now identifies use of that substance with pleasure and reward. The brain effectively believes that use of the substance is now the only path to feeling pleasure. And it will stop at nothing to achieve that feeling.
So I’m going to change lanes for a second and talk about acting solely on emotional response and desire. Buddhists refer to it as monkey mind. Living your life driven by pointless external desires. This is the world of the addict. They do terrible things. They hurt the ones they love through extreme selfishness, commit crimes, betray trust. The thing is, it’s not their fault. Now I’m not saying for a second that they are not to be held accountable for their actions. Nor is addiction and excuse for anything they may do while actively using. It is a reason, though.
You see, the frontal lobe and limbic system do not work in harmony, even in the healthiest mind. Rational thought and emotional response are very often completely contradictory. Remove the function of the frontal lobe and you’re left with a person who uses no logic or reason. When you remove the substance, and treat the person, the reason returns, and this is when they begin to feel remorse for the things they did while using. That tremendous guilt can be incredibly difficult to manage, because the limbic system is still telling the person that their substance of choice is how to remove that guilt and pain. Couple that with the fact that non addicts often cannot understand that the actions of a user are beyond their control, and it can push people to relapse.
If you’ve never struggled with addiction, I just want you to take a moment and recall one situation where you have made a shitty decision that selfishly hurt someone. I know all of you have. Now I want you to imagine if you lived your life having little control over making those decisions. Imagine if you continuously did things to hurt the people around you, and haphazardly broke the law. Imagine if the shit you did on a regular basis was flirting with death, and you not only couldn’t see the danger, but couldn’t understand why you did it. That’s what living with addiction is like.
We all have a bit of monkey mind, and it’s not an easy thing to reign in. Introspection and personal reflection are key to understanding our emotional responses and actions. Next time you act out of sorts, or lose your temper, or do anything mean or spiteful, remember to take a moment to understand that the addict lives in that place at all times.