A Story Told in Ink:
Hawaii Tattoo Artist Adam Siehr Part Two
By: Jason M.A. Walter for Hawaii’s 434 Tattoo
Adam’s laughter is contagious. The laughter, as I mentioned earlier, is that of a free spirit. The buzz of the tattoo machine, his “paintbrush,” is hypnotic, it’s calming, it’s liberating, and I start to relax into the mood of the laughter myself. Less than a year ago, I had no tattoos. Since then, since my spiritual journey was undertaken fully, I started to get custom tattoo pieces done (six sessions in total) as a way to ritualize this experience of rebirth that I was going through, a way to make peace with all the Death in my life…
“There was this one time, at the first shop I was apprenticing for back in Milwaukee, where we finished up work and they asked me if I wanted to shoot a gun.” The laughter takes me over now because I can see where Adam is going with this. “Guns were going off, I was 17, someone called the cops. My Mom had to come down and get me.”
I look in his eyes and I place why the spirit is free: here is a man who lives his life doing what he loves. All the writing, this article, my completed book, that’s me following that guideline, that’s what this rebirth has been about, to rise above fear and live my life from a place of love.
I watch as Adam weaves the machine over the outline, a custom tattoo design that he put together based on an idea I had, a tattoo concept that I didn’t even have to give him a picture of. The man is a professional, true artistic genius does not need to see, it just knows.
“I’ve been doing this for so long, you just start to get the idea of what things look like, how it flows.” He says. I’ve asked all my questions. The pain of getting a tattoo is passing, it’s alluring to some, for me, it’s symbolic of the pain that I passed through in my rebirth. I can’t think.
“You’re doing a good job, Bro.” Adam says as if reading my mind. And the light bulb flashes on with my next query: Describe the intimacy of putting a piece on someone.
“Oh he went there…” Andy Burley, another member of the 434 Tattoo team of talented artists, jokes. Andy is the only person to make it through an apprenticeship with Adam, a very prestigious accomplishment if you think about it. Andy, a former pro fighter himself, has just a free vibe as Adam. Forget the stigma, tattoo people are good people, the kind of people I want to be around, better character than many of the politicians I used to work for…
“There’s nothing more satisfying then seeing someone’s face after a session or talking to them later, and they are so happy with the work you’ve done for them. That’s what it’s about.” Adam replies. “Tattoos are very meaningful for people and to me, nothing is better. It’s better than the money.”
Check out Part One of A Story Told in Ink Here.