In Episode 5 of 'The Tattoo Shop' we meet guest artist, Katie Gray from Chico, California. She says, “I am a contemporary tattooer primarily focusing on American Traditional with Blackwork and Japanese influences. My main goal in creating art and creating tattoos is to build a sense of community.” Katies client, Jillian, has been tattooed by Katie several times and comes in to get a tattoo of a smokey Traditional lady head. Katie talks about finding a community within tattooing that she couldn’t find elsewhere, even in other arts related fields, and how learning the craft of something well is part of what makes a strong artist.
Chris Nunez's client, Jan Grarup, shares his story about being a documentarian photographer in which he's covered many of the major and minor conflicts across the globe. “Ignorance is the key enemy for me. A lot of the news outlets today are talking about conflicts which are sexy for two weeks, a month, maybe half a year, but then it disappears. That doesn’t mean the story disappears, it just means we don’t hear about it.” Jan shows his tattoos, each of which remind him of a certain point in life. Nunez muses, “Tattoos to me are a landscape of where you’ve been, what you’ve been through.” and with Jan it is very true. He talks about seeing the brutality of war up close, suffering from PTSD and coping through self-medication, but he still finds inspiration in human resilience and strength.
For this episode's Masterpiece Tattoo, Darren Brass does a “Rose of No Mans Land”. The Rose of No Mans Land refers to nurses who volunteered at the front in WWI. Darren talks about how tattoos don’t necessarily have to have a really deep meaning to be an incredible or powerful design. Many Traditional design elements have significance, but many are just clean, stand-out tattoos. Darren's client, Steve, got a lighthouse tattoo from him awhile ago and wants to finish the piece, so Darren connects the two in a thoughtful way. “What's great is that everything has a nautical theme! Kind of wraps it all together.”
We spend a little time at home to meet Darren’s son, Cassius, and he talks about the art of cooking. “A dish of food, I always compare it to tattooing. It's what you put in there...what you pair it with.” After whipping up a healthy twist on Shepard's Pie, we get a look into Darren's visual art process while he sketches. “I'm visual in all respects. No matter what I look at I'll try and find something of beauty in it.”
Ismael Araya, a professonal surfer from Costa Rica, visits to get a tattoo from his friend, Ami James. Ismael was in an accident that left him in a wheelchair for four years, but for the past 9 months he’s been on crutches, trying to raise money for the replacement knee surgery he needs. And although his story is intense, he’s optimistic. “God doesn’t give me weak spirit, he gives me the spirit of love, of power, and self-control….I dream about it. I see myself walking.” Ami agrees, and says, “Let’s not hope, let’s just make it happen.” Ismael gets some Hebrew text from Ami and later they go surfing on the gorgeous blue waters of Miami Beach.