Episode 8 of 'The Tattoo Shop' opens with a work in progress Masterpiece by Chris Garver. A back-piece comprised of a fighting dragon and tiger, all Japanese design elements have meanings, and these animals are no different. Tigers are supposed to ward off evil spirits, bad luck, and disease. Garver and his client, Nick, have been working on this piece for about 3 years. He free-hands it section by section. “I like the way, if I draw a tattoo on, it really seems to fit. And for me, it's a lot of fun to kind of add on every single session because I'm pretty good at laying things out, but I really enjoy seeing it evolve...Since this one is all black and grey, I just wanted to make everything really intense.”
Tommy Montoya's client, Christian Hosoi, stops by this week for an awesome piece. A skater turned pro at 14, Christian has won more than 10 international skateboarding contests, and once held the world record for the highest air with 25 feet. A skateboarder for over 35 years, he hails from Los Angeles. From the top of the international skateboarding scene, he hit rock bottom in 2000 due to drug abuse and possession of crystal meth. He talks about that moment when he got caught, staring up at the police officers who said he’d serve ten years; he had to ask the question, “What happened to my life?” After 4.5 years he was released. During his time behind bars, he turned to God, and in 2005 he became an ordained minister and helped found the skate based ministry The Uprising. With a love for God and family, Tommy and Christian bond over an incredible black and grey tattoo of a warrior angel, celebrating Christian’s 18 years of sobriety.
In this episode we get to see a bit deeper into Garver's past, and how it has supported his growth as an artist. “I was never really that much into school...I preferred after-school. I got into a lot of different things as a kid, like skateboarding and punk rock….stuff like that, but i was always interested in the visual side of it, like the designs on the skateboard….my mom told me 'Why don't you try to get into an arts high school?’ so I applied to this arts high school. I got in and it was amazing.” Going to school at the Pittsburgh High school for the Creative and Performing Arts, he evolved his interests. He felt supported by the teachers, and the creative atmosphere. “I had a lot of friends that were older than me and once they started getting tattoos I knew that that's the art form that I was drawn to the most. I can't think of a more personal art form than tattooing.” This fortunate turn in his life, as well as his hard work and devotion to the art form of tattooing has enabled him to achieve his dreams. "Being free is really important to me...I wanted to live my life on my own terms. I'm really grateful to tattooing that I'm able to do that.”
David Peyote takes the guest spot in this episode describing tattooing as "living art." From Imperial Tattoo Connexion in Montreal, Canada, he's been tattooing for about 6 years. “Coming here today I'm going to meet the peeps who probably forged who I am now. Some of them have been working for 25 years. I was still wearing diapers when they started tattooing!” David tattoos a bold, colorful piece that emotes feelings of peace and tranquility: a cabin in the woods with stars in the sky.
Ami James tattoos Rodrigo Canteras, an artist who works with Garver at Five Points in New York. Amy and Rodrigo started his back piece almost 5 years ago. The tattoo has become a sort of collaboration between Ami and Garver; Garver did some work on Rodrigos front and connected it to the back. Ami talks about how one of the things that he doesn't like about taking a long time to finish the piece is the difference in blacks; over time any tattoo will heal and change with the skin. Once finished and settled, this back piece will be an absolute work of art by Ami.
To celebrate the closing of their time together the guys have a bbq, play some backgammon and relax. Garver says, “You know what, a lot of people have been complaining that with the popularity of tattooing they feel like the magic is gone. I feel sorry for them because I feel the magic more and more the more I keep going.”
The last episode of the season, the guys get ready to depart to their home cities, and get back to their regular shops. Ami says “It's been fun though guys, really. It's been a blast. I can't believe you guys have to go back already.” Nunez agrees, “The last few days have been great...I really needed that.” They also congratulate Garver on 30 years of tattooing by replicating his first tattoo on a three tier cake. “It looks a lot better actually than the tattoo!” Garver says smiling.