How’d you get into your side hustle?
Honestly, I’ve always been an artist my whole life. Growing up as a kid I was always able to draw with no training and I even had a side hustle in middle school where I’d charge kids 50¢ to draw on their book covers. Ninja turtles, the Batmobile, whatever they wanted. Because of the area I grew up in I did a lot of cholo old English and script which would pay off later in life, haha
Even though I was always an artist, I never was into painting, really. I mean, I was, but we grew up pretty poor in my family. With two brothers and two sisters and just my mom working her ass off to keep us fed, buying paint and brushes and canvases and shit just wasn’t an option.
I got into painting after I got into the tattoo world and could finally afford the stuff I needed to start really dipping into that realm of art.
How do you find time to work on your side hustle after tattooing/drawing/running Social media and all the other tasks we have as tattooers?
You gotta make time, really. That’s all there is to it. I have two kids, one with special needs, so literally everything I create has to be on a schedule the doesn’t take away from my most important job, being a dad.
I have a drawing day, just like my ten hour workday, devoted only to drawing upcoming work. If I don’t have upcoming work, then I can get loose and doodle stuff that I have been thinking about or layout some ideas for paintings.
When I finally do get to working on paintings, I have a nightly routine of painting for about 4 hours a night until it’s complete. Kids are down by 8pm, paint until midnight, go to bed, repeat. It’s the only way I can complete art tasks on time, hahaha. If it’s just “I’ll work on it whenever” it will never get done. At least, not if there’s a deadline.
Social media is the thing I care least about. I guess I should care more, since it’s kind of the main way clients find you anymore, but I don’t have any regimen for that. I hate being a slave to that shit. I’ll post when I want or remember to but I don’t let that shit own any space in my head, really. There’s kids that have been tattooing a year that have 100k followers and get tons of likes for pedestrian tattoos, but I don’t let it bother me. All the time they give to make their accounts that huge, I’m using to be a better artist or a better dad. I just don’t have the energy for the social media machine. I’ve been doing it long enough that people know what I do and if they’re looking for me, they’ll find me. I could care less about imaginary hearts on my tattoo pictures. The client and the end result is all I care about.
Building machines or cutting shanks is the same. If I don’t have any current paintings on the table, or if I have a request for a machine, I’ll spend the four hours a night in the garage winding coils, cutting springs, or engraving a frame, whatever. Those couple hours a day are what I use for whatever side hustle I might be working on.
Long story short: make time for the things that matter. Family is always first, the rest is the side hustle.
You think it’s important for tattooers to have other creative outlets?
Absolutely. Having as many creative outlets as possible is paramount to learning more and becoming a better artist in one way or another. Even if you try and fail, it’s better to try. You learn so much from failure. Every success is built on a sturdy foundation of failure. I’d say if you have time, and it doesn’t interfere with family, give it a shot. What’s the harm?
Do you have a creative outlet that you’d rather not turn into a hustle? Something just for YOU that helps you escape or relax?
Anymore, that’s my musical life. I’ll sit down for a bit and play my guitar or bass, or even break out the banjo or cello. I’m not in it for money anymore. It just helps me relax. Sometimes I work out designs in my head or even come up with new ones while I’m plucking away. Sometimes I’m creating a whole scene with the strings. It’s like I’m painting a picture with sound. Making art for the blind. Sounds cheesy, but that’s how it feels.
I’m also getting into making knives and hatchets, but that’s still in its infancy, so stay tuned for that shit.
Do you have a bigger picture or a vision of where your side hustle could take you?
I have no bigger pictures for my art, really. Just to get better. To fail better. I would never stop tattooing, it has literally brought me to all the things I cherish most in life, so even if I became some super famous painter or start selling tons of machines or whatever, I’d still be slinging weird ass skulls in a room somewhere. Hahaha.
Any Advice for Tattooers that are interested in building up a new SIDE HUSTLE?
Like I said earlier, make time. Even if it’s just time to try something new. Make time to fail. Make time to fail better. Make time for progress. There are no great things in life that didn’t take hard work and sacrifice. So suffer now that you won’t have to suffer later. Make time, prepare, and do the work.
Huge shoutout to my wife, Crystal, for always being supportive of my weird ass side hustles but always keeping me on point with what needs to be done and when. Without her, I definitely wouldn’t be as regimented as I am. She’s the best person in my life, and I love her madly.
Shoutout to my old crew, when we still had the studio. I miss those guys. Nate Banuelos, Ed Flores, De, whoever the counter guy was… I miss them.
Shoutout to my favorite tattooers: Sacred Crow, Rob Goodkind, James Tex, DaDaHell, Chris Yvon, and my good buddy, Nate Banuelos.
As always, a shoutout to Danzig and hotdogs. Without either of them, I would have no reason to live.
Inspirational or funny Quotes?
One of my favorite quotes is from Benjamin Franklin:
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Random knowledge drops/closing statements?
Sailor Jerry was just a guy. Not a reason to stay in a holding pattern artistically. He was all about learning new things and what would make tattooing better and more efficient. I’m all about understanding traditional, but staying in the time capsule isn’t helping the industry move forward. Learn traditional, honor its place in American tattoo history, but evolve past it. Or at least aspire to.
Also, to the new bloods, try drawing on paper for a change. And try not to steal as much shit as you do, hahaha. I can’t tell you how many iPad ideas I see where people are ripping images or the video starts after the image was already traced. We all need to borrow sometimes, I get it, but seriously try to learn how and why things are the way they are. It will bleed over into the rest of your art and make you a million times better.
Not being able to pinch zoom and double tap mistakes will make you plan ahead more for what your actual artistic capabilities are and will ultimately make you a better tattooer.
HOW DO WE FIND YOUR SIDE HUSTLE?
I put my art up in art shows, books, prints, etc. and now that we’re in a private studio, you’ll have to find them on my Instagram or on our website.
Tattoo machines are by request only at the moment, so you’d have to DM me for one of those and you have to be a legit tattooer. No kitchen wizards or apprentices.