Stacey Martin Smith

@staceymartintattoos


Social media is ok to keep your name floating around in cyber space but shouldn’t be the only reliable source of credibility.Stacey Martin Smith
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Style


This traditional style tattoo has a beautiful blend of black and color


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Composition


Getting the design to fit the body just right is very important


Betty Rose Kewpie Cat Tattoo Art

Overall


Overall, bold lines and a solid structure always win in the end

The adventure begins…

I was 23, so around 2002ish and I went to Atomic Ace Tattoo in Rome, NY – the same place where I would ask for and eventually start an apprenticeship.

I was excited but nervous of what my family would say, especially my dad. After it was finished I don’t know if I loved it or if I loved the process and the thrill involved, probably both. Regardless, I immediately started thinking of what else I might want which led me to keep getting small ones. I really did love the feeling of a permanent marking that made me completely different from the next guy.

It was a pen and ink illustration that I made of a spark plug with wings that said, Dad. It wasn’t really in a tattoo style, which I didn’t understand at the time. It wasn’t american traditional and it wasn’t all distorted and underlit, just simple black lines.

I’ve since covered it up. It’s not that I hated the design or the tattoo itself, I hated who did it. The guy who did it was the same person I “started” apprenticing with and he seemed ok at first but the further I got in to my apprenticeship, he would dodge technical and skill related questions left and right, including questions regarding his own credibility and experience. As I made more friends in the industry, at other shops, it was clear that this guy was wasting my time and I wanted nothing do do with him, including that tattoo.
So I ended up finishing my apprenticeship at Apocalypse Tattoo run by Michael Davidson, and stayed at the shop for about three more years until making the move to Austin, TX.

It took too long, maybe 45 minutes, an hour? I felt a little sick and excited. It was a lot to take in and I would continue to feel that way for the next fear or so. I relied on an eraser and ctrl+alt+z for so long, this was so different. No take backs! I would finally feel like I was getting the hang of things only to have that assuredness change every few years as I would progress, change machines, change shops and learn even more

Technically, I was my first victim. I tattooed a Sailor Jerry nautical star that says, Utica, NY instead of “Texas” on my inner calf. Oh, the irony.

On a paying customer (at least I think he paid the set up fee?) I tattooed the Sailor Jerry fly.
The feeling was about the same for both. I was very shaky and clumsy until the needle penetrated the skin. That part, for some reason, did not make my hands shake. But not spilling ink or nocking over my rinse cup or setting my needle and tube up, I was a mess trying to not make a mess. It was on a friend of one of the other artists that was constantly hanging out at the shop. I don’t remember his name or else I would apologize that it took so long and offer him a touch up. I think it was upper arm. I do remember that he was immediately going to an outdoor music festival afterwards which made me sick to my stomach. Not only was it my first customer & first tattoo but it was my first taste of watching something, that I poured my heart, soul, and sanity in to, just walk out the door to an unknown fate. That was a hard pill for me to swallow for a while.

I had one machine that I used for both lining and shading. It was a really basic swing-gate from National Tattoo Supply. I had a big-ass power supply from them too. I’m pretty sure I used a 5 round for the whole first tattoo and used MOM’s inks

Good, solid, consistent, quality work (tattoos or otherwise) is the best advertisement. The majority of my Austin clients I can trace back to the first few amazing people that I tattooed here. Word of mouth is a tattooer’s best source of advertisement and it’s 100% free. Social media is ok to keep your name floating around in cyber space but shouldn’t be relied upon as a reliable source of credibility.

The Adventure continues…

Gosh, how far back are we going? I completed a degree in illustration at Syracuse University in 2000. I worked as a freelance illustrator, full time graphic designer, and various odd but creative jobs until 2004 when I would start my apprenticeship. I worked for a printing press doing graphic design, I illustrated and designed ads for a local paper. Before that, while living in New York City, I designed and fabricated window displays for Pearl Paint Co. and illustrated for the New York Press.

I would say roughly a third but not for lack of trying. I absolutely plan to get more, when I can find the time, I make appointments. I’ve had laser removal completed for about 3 years now and still haven’t had the area covered and I’ve had a few covered straight up. So one step forward, two steps back.

Personally, I’m keeping all of my own tattoos above the cuff. I just prefer the way it looks. I’ve always admired the look of side show performers body suits and I like the advantage of being able to conceal or show as much as I want to. On other people, I refer to the late, great, Hunter S. Thompson, “buy the ticket, take the ride.”

To quote one of my favorite artists, Robert Williams, “…rather than what many artists do, (which) is lift what they can steal. You know, make their entire fucking world their clipart .” Although I consider Google to be the most convenient reference tool and use it frequently, it’s not the ultimate or only option. There’s a difference between referring to something and outright petty theft. I think that some customers and tattooers, alike, aren’t aware of the difference or they chose to ignore it. I don’t use google to trace or copy images exactly. Understanding all aspects of your subject matter, I honestly believe, is crucial to creating a well rounded, original piece unless a client requests something off of a designated flash sheet.
Picture based apps like Pinterest, Instagram, & Google images are flooded with uncredited imagery and untraceable sources. For many people, this translates to “royalty free” which in turn has created a zero consequence shoplifting zone. Stealing, cheating and skipping the line, despite what our parents and teachers have instilled in us, has become commonplace and that’s unfortunate.

Before tattooing I helped with organizing and participating in local craft shows & art/music shows. I played roller derby for a bit too. Anything to keep it interesting in a rather dreary, dirty small town.

Venues like myspace and Facebook were useful, particularly when I moved to Austin in 2008. I needed to spread the word fast, that I was available and that I made quality tattoos. I used it as a tool but not as a necessity.

Nowadays I do get a lot of comments on Instagram from people asking if I will do a guest spot in their city. It’s a sign that a web presence can take you further than you might expect and to not discount it entirely

Good, solid, consistent, quality work (tattoos or otherwise) is the best advertisement. The majority of my Austin clients I can trace back to the first few amazing people that I tattooed here. Word of mouth is a tattooer’s best source of advertisement and it’s 100% free. Social media is ok to keep your name floating around in cyber space but shouldn’t be relied upon as a reliable source of credibility.