How long have you been doing this?
Ten years. I have a degree in criminal justice, and I was designing security programs for hotels. I took my wife at the time to get a tattoo, and within a few weeks I changed occupations. I wanted to get out of the whole suit-and-tie thing.
What's your specialty?
Portraiture and photo-realism. I have no professional art background, but even as a child I could draw and copy photos.
How did you start working with athletes?
Dennis Rodman, who was with the Pistons at the time, was the first one I worked on. I did a portrait of his daughter on him. After that, David Wells, who was pitching here in Detroit, came to me. I've put about five portraits on him. I've done both his sons and his grandmother, and I think we've done his mother twice. I've met a number of baseball players through Dave. I've tattooed [A's pitcher] Billy Koch and [Dodgers outfielder] Gary Sheffield. I did an armband on him at his home in Florida. I did a wildlife scene on [former NHL defenseman] Al Iafrate.
How many tattoos do you do a day?
One or two. They're very elaborate. Portraits can take many hours. Once I did a full Jimi Hendrix portrait that took me 15 hours. We did that straight, with only one or two breaks.
What kind of reactions do you get to your work?
My tattooing is very personal. Generally it's something that relates to the client's life. For Dwight Gooden, I put a portrait of his father on him, and it meant a lot to him. People even cry when it's done. It's a very emotional thing.