Custom Tattoo Stories: The 5am Kitchen Apprenticeship

Every job has it’s fair share of funny stories. And if you do something long enough, you have so many that they don’t always come to mind unless, you’re in the moment…

Tattoo Adam has been a Custom Tattoo Artist for almost two decades and the other day, while doing custom tattooing out of his Waikiki tattoo studio, 434 Tattoo, we had such a moment.

Note: I have seen Adam tattoo a number of people now over the last year, not including watching him work on me and it’s amazing to see quickly he works and his mastery of the tattoo machine.  I even witnessed one young woman freak out during a session and fall out of her chair (don’t worry she was fine, just dramatic) and Adam quickly moved the machine away to keep her from getting hurt.  But I have often wondered if anyone has ever moved or kicked during a tattoo and/or gotten tattooed in a place s/he did not intend because of involuntary movement.

So I asked him.

And he answered my question with a question himself: “Did I ever tell you the 5am Kitchen Apprenticeship Story?”

During Adam’s apprenticeship, he had to do all sorts of tattoo and non-tattoo related things.  Part of an tattoo apprenticeship includes doing what is asked by your Mentor.  Just ask Doubledown, who’s had to cut his hair, sing songs at Karaoke, and even eat because he’s “looking too skinny.”  It was no different for Adam.

“So one morning at 5am, I get a call from my Mentor, Tattoo Artist John Cervantes, and he’s yelling, “Kid, get the gear and get over here.” So I went down and grabbed what he told me to, a single needle liner, and went over to his fiancé’s house to see what it was all about.”

Turns out that John wanted a tattoo.  No biggie right?  Nothing new for a Tattooist to want or get tattooed…  Here’s the catch, he had been out drinking the night before and hadn’t slept.

“The whole time I was working on him, he was moving forward because he was falling asleep so I’m tattooing with him.”

2.5 hours later: “We finished and there was a lesson in it.  He only told me to bring a single needle liner but that’s how I learned to shade an area with a single needle liner…”

The moral of the story, hmm, do what you’re asked or find a teachable moment in any experience or shoot, just laugh and enjoy because that’s a pretty awesome story!

Our Hawaii tattoo studio is open 7 days/week from 10a-10p every day.  Enjoy!

Adam Siehr, President and Proud Owner
434 Tattoo
Custom Tattooing LLC.

434 Ena Road
Honolulu, Hawaii


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