How did you decide to pursue a career in tattoo artistry?
I always knew I wasn’t someone to have a job sitting at a desk and typing nothingness until I turned into a wrinkled mess with a bad back. If I was going to get a bad back, I made sure it was going to be doing something fun and worth an early hunch. Leaving high school at quite a young age really opened my eyes to the world of tattooing and visual art. Working in various trades and meeting people from all walks of life with living and breathing artwork on their bodies hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was hooked. I quit my landscaping apprenticeship after six months at age sixteen and decided to paint flash day in day out, in the process soaking up tattooing history and its importance on where this art form is today.
What are some of your favorite tattoo styles or techniques to work on?
I have always loved American Traditional. Strong lines and saturated colour mixed with thousands of iconic designs ranging from love hearts dedicated to your mum to monkeys with their bum holes out on display. Never a dull moment looking through the archives.
Can you share a memorable tattooing experience from your apprenticeship?
I got my start at Cindy Ray’s Moving Pictures Tattoo in North Williamstown. From day dot my mentor, Kenny Mac made my time there truly memorable. I have many fond memories but I will never forget the first day I met Bev Nicholas aka Cindy Ray. Her kindness and love she gave to the shop although retired, really stuck with me. She never came to visit empty handed. Bev always made something for the shop to eat and called up at least 4-5 times a week to check in on how everything was going. I will always cherish those memories.
Who or what inspires your tattoo designs and artwork?
I am a big vintage action figure collector and have an obsession with the packaging they come in. I love the characters drawn meticulously on the sides of the boxes to perfectly fit the flow of the packaging. This turns a piece of mass produced plastic into a sculpture to proudly display. A lot of my ideas for flash and other artworks come from colour schemes from these toys in their boxes.
What advice would you give to someone considering their first tattoo?
Be true to yourself. If someone judges an idea you have, you might get cold feet and not go ahead with it. But at the end of the day, you go to bed and wake up in your body - not someone else’s. I believe in feeling complete and proud of the skin you live in. If that means getting a tattoo you love and others don’t, so be it. Lucky it isn’t on them. Go for it!
Are there any tattoo artists or mentors who have influenced your style or journey?
Thom Devita is my biggest inspiration in tattooing. I strive to build a career in art that intertwines tattooing through different mediums. He was a master assemblage and collage artist alongside doing tattoos and making artworks that satisfy his customers. I think creating doesn’t stop at one medium; humans aren’t supposed to be perfect at anything, so why stick to one stream. I never want to stop experimenting and learning. Devita’s ways of approaching his career taught me this.
Can you tell us about a challenging tattoo project you’ve worked on and how you overcame it?
I don’t think it’s one tattoo. Rather the first six months of tattooing in general. Every day came with a new challenge and another shirt sweated through. I am so glad I stuck at it through the smudged stencils and being the most awkward and nervous person around clients.
What are your future aspirations or goals as a tattoo artist?
My goal is to open the real life One Stop Tommy Shop. A tattoo shop dedicated to everyone I love and who has supported me. Create a space that doesn’t just satisfy my eyes but caters to everyone. I’d love for it to have an area where anyone can paint, sculpt and draw and then host art shows. As long as it’s a place people leave with a smile and a memory they’ll never forget, my job is complete. Till then, the blueprints for this studio will just keep building and probably become my extravagant.
Lastly, as someone passionate about tattooing, could you share your thoughts on Dr. Pickles Tattoo Aftercare products?
Doctor Pickles is a staple for artists and collectors of tattoos. I use the Tattoo Balm for my own tattoos, I always have. It’s not harsh on the skin, keeps my skin smooth as silk and helps heal tattoos quick and seamlessly. And if we’re going to talk packaging and mascots - Doctor Pickles wins gold no doubt.
Where can we find you and support your journey? @onestoptommyshop @feelgoodink.tattoo
Do you know an amazing apprentice like Tommy who we should feature? email: firstname.lastname@example.org