Tattoo Adam, owner of Waikiki Tattoo Shop, 434 Tattoo, has seen his share of (insert here what there is to see) in the 20 years that he has worked in the Tattoo Industry. His story, etched on the bodies of hundreds of thousands of people, has taken him from his humble roots of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, apprenticing at a shop own by One Percenters (Bikers), led to Sin City, Las Vegas, and ended up here in the Aloha State, a great fit for a self-described “peace loving Rastafarian” who is all about giving great service and custom tattoos to his clientele.
Today’s story takes us deep into Sin City as we flashback a little bit on some of the experiences that Adam had while deep in the Strip. The telling of this tale all began with this Writer saying: “Dude, my parents told me they were in a tattoo parlor in Vegas and the charge was $175 for a tattoo the size of a quarter.”
“I’d believe it.” Adam replies. ” In Vegas, the prices are jacked up because of all the drunken tourists who just want to get something done. Did I ever tell you about Carnies?”
Carnies is a reference I have heard many times in Life and it is meant to paint the picture of someone who will do just about anything for a buck, even if it includes cutting a throat, or marking up prices.
“Well in Vegas, this shop I was at, we had five booths with five artists, sometimes more, even though it was illegal, and everyone was hungry. This one artist there, Oz, once took five clients of mine who had asked for me. At the end of the day, the Owner, paid us out according to who made the most. If you made the most, you got out of there the fastest. I never forgot that and it made me work hard.”
“That guy was smart, when I first started, there was our shop, and the shop across the street. The Boss bought the space next to us and made it into a Tattoo Shop to catch the people who left us so they didn’t have to cross the street. It worked good.”
Though Tattoo Adam made a ton of money, owned a House with a Pool, a car, his dream of Custom Tattooing was going unfulfilled.
“Be careful what you wish for.” He says with a laugh. “I said I would give up the House that I owned, the pool, all of that so that I could do custom tattoo work because out there, I wasn’t getting to do a whole lot of it.”
Most tourists just want a bit of Flash and I have seen Adam knock out Tattoo Flash pieces as quick 15 minutes. The true mastery of a custom tattoo artist, even an artist in general comes when they are working on something original, that involves them putting the energy of their own Being into the piece.
“If I didn’t leave Vegas, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Where Adam sits today is as the President and Owner of his own Custom Tattoo Shop, the multiple award-winning Honolulu tattoo studio, 434 Tattoo. Come check out Adam, Marko, Andy, and Karl today for your free consultation and to get your own bit of custom work. You won’t regret it!