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CHESTER BENNINGTON O F L I N K I N PA R K SARA X SPEAKS OUT

TATTOO ARTIST PIOTR OLEJNIK


Chester Bennington

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Ian Robert McKown

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Interview: Katie Amen

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Interview: J Messinian

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Piercing: Johnny Velez

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Kia E

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Fashion: Club Tattoo

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Sara X

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Piotr Olejnik

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Model of the Month

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Cover credits: Chester Bennington Photo: Sean Hartgrove


Editor-in-Chief - Candies Deezy Liu Creative Director - Sean Hartgrove Art Director - David Rossa Piercing Editor - Sean Dowdell European Editor - Ákos Bánfalvi Website Manager - Cameron Cowan Staff Photographers - Radek Photography & Billy Ward Video Services - James Coulter of Moo Dog Productions, LTD.

InkSpired Story: Chester Bennington Words: Candies Liu Photos: Sean Hartgrove Positive Spin: Sara X Speaks Out Words: Kate Monahan Photos: Patrick Byler Clark Tattoo Artist: Clara Sinclair Art: Ian McKown Words: Abe Brennan Photos: Radek Hruby Interview: Katie Amen Interview by: Candies Liu Photos: Sean Hartgrove

Piercing: Johnny Velez Interview by: Sean Dowdell Tattoo Artist: Piotr Olejnik Interview by: Ákos Bánfalvi Fashion: Club Tattoo Words: Vanessa Heart Photos: Sean Hartgrove Tattooed Model: Kia Photos: Sean Hartgrove Model of the Month: Stephanie Marazzo Photo: Hugo V Photography

Music: J Messinian Words: Chad Allen Photos: Sean Hartgrove

Advertising info: info@InkSpiredMagazine.com 2

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Inspiration is one of the greatest gifts of life. InkSpired Magazine revolves around the concept of influential figures or ideas in the world of tattoo culture and lifestyle that take us to the next level - that give us hope, strength, and even meaning in our lives. We wrap up the summer with Issue No. 34, conceived upon the notion of some our greatest inspirations to date.

month. Club Tattoo is not only one of the greatest tattoo collectives in the nation, they host a variety of fashion from their own apparel, to collaborations with several major fashion and sportswear brands, to retailing some of the biggest names in tattoo fashion. Their collection of men’s and women’s apparel amplifies their concept that “it’s not just a tattoo, it’s a lifestyle…”

This month, the InkSpired Story features Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. He was one of my greatest musical influences since I was thirteen. His music helped me through some extremely dark times. When I interviewed him, he was not only incredibly humble, he was philosophical in explaining the role that music plays in his life. His story is nothing short of exhilarating.

The incredibly talented Piotr Olejnik graces the tattoo artist feature this month, with an interview by Ákos Bánfalvi. The Polish tattoo artist describes his style as surrealistic, with great influence from Polish paintings.

We also welcome Abe Brennan to our team, who interviewed Ian McKown, an artist who specializes in painting Dutch and Flemish realism. Years after he began tattooing, he discovered a greater love and appreciation for art than he ever encountered. Now, he is a greatly respected and appreciated artist within the industry. Katie Amen graces the Interview section this month with photography by our Creative Director, Sean Hartgrove. Her unique look and bombshell figure is about to take the tattoo modeling world by storm. This up-and-coming tattooed model makes her debut in InkSpired Magazine, and she is definitely worth keeping an eye out for. We also feature a pictorial essay on a girl we call, the “reluctant” model. By the name of Kia, we discovered her in Denver, Colorado. Unbeknownst to her, she would become an overnight sensation as a tattooed model. In music, our drum and bass editor, Chad Allen interviews J Messinian, one of the most recognized D’n’B MCs in the underground EDM world. An in-depth dialogue with him reveals his background, how he got his start, where he is now in his career, and the story behind his tattoos.

In Positive Spin, Kate Monahan interviews internet sensation, Sara X. She is most recognized as the girl who boob twerked to Mozart, a video that went viral overnight. However, the tattooed model battles more than just internet trolls who want to see her nude, she was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In an exclusive interview, she speaks out about how her recent diagnosis has changed her life. Johnny Velez graces our piercing section this month, with an interview by our piercing editor, Sean Dowdell. Mr. Velez talks about how his interest in piercing began, his involvement in the industry and the APP (Association of Professional Piercers), and more. Issue No. 34 is an issue dedicated to inspiration - the driving force that plays an integral role in each of our lives. Tattoos, piercings, body modifications, and other forms of bodily expression bring our inspirations to life, along with an array of other things, including art and fashion. This leads me to the question that I always ask, “what ‘InkSpires’ you?” Signed, Your Chief Editor- Candies Deezy Liu

The fashion of Club Tattoo is highlighted in our style section this

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InkSpot - What “InkSpires” You? “My family. I don’t have my tattoo yet, but I’ve been planning it for years. My family is the rock that keeps me steady. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.” -Angel Axton “Choices made and friends lost.” - @skinny666 “To me, the word, ‘InkSpired’ represents the beauty that is often a result of enduring a painful experience. We almost always comes out the other side, better and stronger.” -Mike Willis “My ink is about me, my life, who I am. ‘InkSpired’ to me is about expressing who I am in the ink that I have.” -Xai Lor Vang “Translating my experiences into tattoos that I’m proud to wear on my body!” -Brittani Collins

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Words: Candies Liu Photography: Sean Hartgrove

Chester Bennington is the driving force behind Linkin Park, one of the most innovative bands in modern rock ‘n’ roll history, skyrocketing him into stardom as one of the world’s most recognized and beloved rockstars. His love for music started at an early age and his artistic brilliance and raw talent manifested itself into more than just music. Both Chester and the other members of Linkin Park have revolutionized music to the core, creating depth in the listener experience that transcends beyond the power of music, which in it of itself, is vastly profound. With their music, there’s always a message to be heard. Music has always played an important role in Chester’s life. His siblings would record him singing at an early age. He references Depeche Mode as a great musical influence. “They were one of my first real loves in terms of bands,” he recalls. In high school, he discovered his love for musical theater. “I had my eyes set on the stage. I wanted to make it on Broadway,” he remembers. It helped him discover the diversity in his vocals, as he reenacted various characters’ voices. It was also when he discovered that he could sing. His voice was the instrument that quickly made his dreams come true, taking him on the road to success. It’s the voice that we’ve all become familiar with as Linkin Park fans, taking us through the good times and bad, resonating with each of us in our own way throughout the years. Although Bennington has never had any formal vocal training, he tried piano lessons for a brief period. Ironically, his piano teacher told him that one day, he would be playing the piano in front of millions of people. He also remembers singing The Doors songs

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“Wh hen we get too comfortable, that’s when we gett lame. When people are too comfortable in the eir lives, relationships, jobs, whatever, you take thin ngs for granted and become neglectful. It’s like a broken bone…” in his buddy’s garage. “The neighbors would come outside and watch us,” he fondly recalls. At the age of fifteen, he was asked to be in a cover band and once he was on stage for the first time, he was hooked. By the time he was sixteen, he made his first record. At eighteen, he released his second record. Now, at 39, he has released his seventh album, and has no intention of stopping. Instead of letting trials and tribulations cripple him, he uses it as fuel to keep him going - to be better than what anyone has dared label him as. You can hear it in his lyrics and voice. There is a sense of rawness that we can all relate to, but are often too scared to come to terms with. That is real pain and emotion you’re hearing and feeling when listening to his music. That darkness is what keeps Chester going and it translates in his music. The competitiveness in him fuels him to crush and destroy, to set records, and his athletic side energizes him to perform with larger than life intensity. His stage presence is like a defibrillator to the core of his audience, and his energy packs quite the punch. And he delivers it with a realness that is unmistakable. Watching a crowd of thousands simultaneously belting out lyrics to a Linkin Park anthem is unforgettable. And that’s the thing about their music. It leaves its mark on you. Ultimately, his music is a product of something meaningful to himself and the audience, giving us an escape that we all need. Chester refers to it as a battle within himself, but it is more so a juxtaposition that allows him to be the artistic genius he is today. “There’s a part of me that as a little kid, was abused, scared, and afraid of confrontation. Being scared all the time and the smallest guy around, I got to see the way people who aren’t ‘normal’ are treated…the people who are ‘weaker.’ After you’ve endured some stuff when you’re

young, you understand that it’s just pain, it’s just a bad feeling and eventually, it will go away. Part of me is a really competitive guy. I think to myself, you’ll beat this asshole. It’ll hurt after the race is over. It’s then, that I can focus on something else that makes me feel better. And then there’s another part of me that just wants to run away and escape. Those two things are constantly at play inside of me. Being in a band and particularly, Linkin Park, it’s the perfect place for me because I get to let go of all that stuff - all the crap and fear I carry inside of me - and it allows me to confront it and turn it into the most confident thing I can do in front of a bunch of people and lay it all out there.” Sustaining several injuries has never stopped Chester from rising to the top. “When I tore the disk in my back, we had to cancel our first trip to China. I was in my early thirties, and I already felt like I was falling apart. That really kicked me into a different frame of mind; that was the beginning of my transformation,” he says. The injury motivated him to get sober and clean up mind, body, and life. His injuries made him stronger as a person and performer. “You find yourself in these struggles, and realize you can come out better than before. That’s my goal in life - to help people and be an example for young people and to inspire them,” he continues. He relates his injuries to his philosophy on life. “When we get too comfortable, that’s when we get lame. When people are too comfortable in their lives, relationships, jobs, whatever, you take things for granted and become neglectful. It’s like a broken bone…you can’t just set it up and hope it heals itself. The only way it’s going to heal is if you start putting pressure on it. People are like that. We need constant pressure on us to keep us grateful and focused on the things that matter.”

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Bennington has also participated in several other musical projects and bands, including Dead by Sunrise with longtime friends featuring members of Julien K and Orgy, as well as the legendary Grey Daze. In 2013, Chester gratefully accepted the position as the lead vocalist for Stone Temple Pilots (STP). The American rockband was a major musical influence for Chester and singing for STP was a lifelong dream of his. Music isn’t Chester’s only passion. He has a great love for tattoo culture. A rebel at heart, tattoos represent the rebellion that resides within him. Tattoos, like music, helped him through difficult times while enabling him to express himself in a meaningful way. “The beauty of tattooing is that it’s yours, and only yours. Some things in life are just meant to be experienced and let go, not documented or recorded. Tattooing is a cool, artistic form of that,” Chester believes. Longtime friends and former bandmates, Sean Dowdell and Chester Bennington played together in a few bands, including Grey Daze and thus, the rock ’n’ roll tattoo connection was born. In 1995, he partnered with Sean and Thora Dowdell to create what would become the industry leading Club Tattoo, arguably one of the most high profile and dynamic tattoo and piercing collectives in the United States. With several locations in Las Vegas, Arizona, and San Francisco, these studios host world famous tattoo artists, body piercers, men’s and women’s fashion, and high-end jewelry, including gold, platinum, and diamonds. With patented interactive tattoo touch screens to create your custom tattoo design, Club Tattoo has quickly become known as a sexy and cuttingedge playground for the body modification enthusiast. “What’s special about Club Tattoo is the culture and the experience. Everything about it has evolved to make 14

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the experience less scary and more fun, more artistically driven and emphasizes appreciation of the lifestyle choice,” Chester says. Not only are they setting the standard in the tattoo industry, they are revolutionizing the concept as the ultimate studio. In addition to fronting Linkin Park, touring, side music projects, and his involvement with Club Tattoo, Chester is also an active participant in several charitable organizations, initiatives, and fundraisers, such as the annual Stars of the Season event. He is on the board to facilitate fundraising with other artists for Cardon Children’s Medical Center in his home state, Arizona. Linkin Park also founded Music for Relief, originally created in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then, the organization has raised over seven million dollars for survivors of other natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, the Wenchuan earthquake in China, a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. It is a collective of musicians, music industry professionals, and fans on a mission to bring the music community together to generate awareness and funds for those in need. Furthermore, they seek to support disaster relief, and reduce the negative effects of climate change, as well as energy poverty. “With low administrative costs, the money that is donated by people go directly to the specific cause and efforts they are seeking to support,” Chester says. For more information, visit: www. MusicForRelief.org. The Phoenix born singer is getting ready for the next Linkin Park record, further rehabilitation of his foot, and looking forward to touring with Stone Temple Pilots in the future. True to form, Bennington has several other epic projects in the works to keep an eye out for.


“Some things in life are just meant to be experienced and let go, not documented or recorrded. Tattooing is a cool, artistic form of that,”

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FROM CORPORATE CONFINEMENT TO TATTOOING TO PAINTING DUTCH/FLEMISH REALISM Words: Abe Brennan Photography: Radek Hruby

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Picture fine art. Picture a fine artist. Crumple those pictures and toss them, because they don’t look anything like Ian Robert McKown or his art. In 2003, Mckown managed restaurants; he was a corporate cog in Boulder’s cuisine machine; and he hated it. One afternoon, while getting some tattoo work done, he asked the artist, a tattooer named Chris Smith, how he’d gotten started. Are you interested? Smith asked. “I’d really never thought of it,” says McKown, “but I said, ‘Yeah, sure,’ so I ended up taking a few days to draw up some ideas I thought would be good tattoo art, you know? And—I guess he really liked it. I put in my two weeks notice and walked away from the corporate world and just kind of became a tattooer. I started apprenticing under Chris right away. I was 30 years old.” This decision + immediate action equation would later result in McKown trying his hand at fine art. Once again, an impulsive choice fueled by emotional resonance had a profound impact on his life and art. Five years after becoming a tattoo artist, while on his way into an art shop for supplies, McKown passed a news rack and saw, on a magazine cover, a still life by David Leffel, an American-born painter who works in the Dutch/Flemish Old Master style. “It was a still life on the cover of, maybe Fine Art America,” says McKown, “and I remember seeing it, and, for the first time in my life, I had an emotional register with a piece of art—I actually felt what I was seeing. That was the moment of impact, the ground zero, as it were . . . I’d never realized you could capture something like he does . . . capture a moment in that way. I went out and got some oils and decided to learn how to paint Dutch/Flemish realism, you know? It was 2008, and that’s when I first started painting.”

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McKown prefers to paint portraits and still lifes, but within these simple modes he experiments with archetypal imagery and color and space relationships, seeking to provoke a dialog with a viewer, an emotional response like the one he experienced viewing Lefell. “I do a lot of themed work—it’s not going to just be a rose or a skull, and a lot of the female figure work I do has to do with depicting, say, a maiden-mother-crone series, or archetypal imagery that exists all around the world—we all have these same creational myths— the same Earth Mother stories. But within that theme I still try to have a dialog with the viewer—if you tell the entire tale, there’s no dialog when you look at it, you know? I think a dialog is supremely important, especially with figure work.” From a commercial standpoint, McKown has been extremely successful, selling just about every painting he’s done, barring those given as gifts or kept for himself. He did celebrity portraits in the beginning, from Depp to Bogart to Gandalf to Sulu, because he thought they’d sell—and they did—but now he pretty much paints what he wants. He’d like painting to be his mainstay, and he plans on owning and operating a working art gallery someday—but would he ever give up tattooing? “No. I even tell younger tattooers, the money potential here is great—so don’t give that up unless you have to—but there’s a social element that can’t exist if it’s just you in your studio. In here, the tattoo artists, we’re all great friends, and I can interact with different people all day long—I can have a three-hour conversation with a complete stranger, and that’s really valuable, insofar as being human, you know what I mean? You need it. Humans exploring ideas.” And then tattooing them on someone. Or painting them on a canvas. McKown does both. To brilliant effect.

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KATIE AMEN Words: Candies Deezy Liu Photography: Sean Hartgrove

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InkSpired Magazine: How and when did your modeling career begin? Katie Amen: I dabbled a bit when I was my younger in some pageant stuff, but that was a whole different world than what I do now. I would say that's where my passion for the industry began. InkSpired Magazine: Do you have any advice for aspiring models? Katie Amen: I suppose it would be to know what your goals really are with your modeling career. And keep an eye out to not get taken advantage of. InkSpired Magazine: What else do you do? Katie Amen: A little bit of everything. I co-owned and operated a tattoo shop for a couple of years. And I have been working in shops piercing and doing body modification for six years or so.

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InkSpired Magazine: How and when did your modeling career begin? Katie Amen: I dabbled a bit when I was my younger in some pageant stuff, but that was a whole different world than what I do now. I would say that's where my passion for the industry began. InkSpired Magazine: Do you have any advice for aspiring models? Katie Amen: I suppose it would be to know what your goals really are with your modeling career. And keep an eye out to not get taken advantage of. InkSpired Magazine: What else do you do? Katie Amen: A little bit of everything. I co-owned and operated a tattoo shop for a couple of years. And I have been working in shops piercing and doing body modification for six years or so. InkSpired Magazine: What inspired you to start getting tattooed? Katie Amen: Oh man, I've always been drawn to the strange and extraordinary. Since I was a little girl, I'd always stop in the grocery store magazine aisle and look at all the people whose skin was adorned with designs and be in awe. I knew I didn't want to be ordinary, that's for sure.

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InkSpired Magazine: Tell us about your favorite tattoo. Katie Amen: I'm not sure I have one. A lot of my tattoos are artists getting to give me a little piece of themselves, their interpretation of an idea I had. And all of them are awesome and special to me. InkSpired Magazine: Who are your tattoo artists? Katie Amen: I’ve gotten tattooed by a handful artists, especially when I was younger. Nowadays, though, I do save my skin for certain artists. Ivan from De La Ink and Rocky from Johnny's Tattoo are the artists behind my more notable and observed pieces and would be my go-to guys if someone were to ask for a reference. InkSpired Magazine: What role do tattoos play in your life? Katie Amen: Since I am what is considered heavily tattooed, they play a pretty dominant role in my day to day life. I get singled out and judged more. But they also give me more of a memorable voice when I need to speak out. I've learned that people are always going to judge you by something. You just have to be able to accept yourself.

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InkSpired Magazine: What inspires you? Do you have any people that you are inspired by? Katie Amen: I'm personally most inspired by art and music - two things that don't have boundaries and limitations. They are things that are one hundred percent pure expression. I've tried to emulate being living art for some time now. InkSpired Magazine: What is something that many people don't know about you? Katie Amen: I'm pretty mellow and homebodied. I enjoy watching a film more than going to a party. Most people assume I'm into raging and being wild. But I'd honestly always rather be reading a comic book.

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Words: Chad Allen Photography: Sean Hartgrove When you think of an MC, you might conjure up a thought of KRS-One describing in one of his many songs the meaning and origins of an MC. Or maybe it’s Public Enemy, and the image of a giant clock swinging from the neck of Flavor Flav while he hypes crowds for Chuck D is passing through your head. Kangols, boom boxes, tracksuits, wherever your mind may drift, amongst those that know, MC is usually a classic term used to describe a passionate lyricist who has mastered the art of moving a crowd. Although, stereotypes might have you normally associating the term, “MC” with hip hop, things have changed since the 90s and the gap between an MC and every other genre of music is long gone, giving birth to some of the most epic crossovers music has ever witnessed. In the underground scene of EDM, it’s no different. Drum and bass music, with its heavy hip hop influence, and funky yet aggressive rhythms, set up for the perfect back beat of any skilled MC. J Messinian is one of these MCs. Recognized by drum and bass fans everywhere, Messinian’s strong stage presence and precise delivery, backed by tremendous heart and a work ethic that could give Wall Street a run for its money has lead him to book and play shows across the globe several times over. And work isn’t slowing. One week, he may be in New Zealand, the next LA, then finding himself in Japan the following week. Needless to say, this guy stays busy. Born in Los Angeles, raised in a rougher part of Philadelphia, and now, finding a calmer life in Las Vegas, Messinian has lived and is living a life (even to this day) much like a gypsy. His story is very interesting to listen to. One might consider him in the running for the most interesting man in the world, right next to that Dos Equis guy. Knowing just how to play the cards he’s been dealt, it’s the life in Philly that helped to mold him into the artist he has become today. Since an early age, Messinian found himself sneaking into clubs and drum and bass venues across Philly looking to make a name for himself. Even before he was of age, he was playing shows all over the east coast, swiftly dominating the DnB scene, and eventually landing him a spot as the front man for one of the most renowned and longest running drum and bass/EDM tours to date, Planet of the Drums Holding the weight of mega DJs Dieselboy, AK 1200, and Dara is certainly a lot of pressure, yet J Messinian stands fashionably as the commanding voice for such an epic group of talent. Together since the 90s, to this day - even playing on a Tuesday - you can find them packing out venues across the globe. When you think of the saying, “iron sharpens iron” in this case, it couldn’t be more true. Surrounded by this line up of talent, J Messinian is about as sharp as they come. Since 1998, he has been honing his craft and developing his skills, making him one of the most sought after American drum and bass MCs in the world.

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How long have you been playing drum and bass? I’ve been listening to drum and bass since 1994 and performing at shows since 1998. I heard it at early raves in Philly, NYC, and D.C. and fell in love with it immediately. I come from hip hop and thought it was the perfect music to flow to. How did you get your start? I was MCing at rap battles and hip hop shows in west and south Philly. I knew of a hip hop/ EDM club that was opening up called Space on Front Street and my friend, Shannon was hired as a model and door personality. She brought me into the owners to hire me and they asked what talent I had that could add to the energy of the club. I started freestyle rapping for them and they hired me immediately. I soon went from being a promoter and working the door to MCing inside the club for every major drum and bass and hip hop DJ that came through, as well as our crew at the time, Substitution. Then, I started a residency, at the now defunct, Fluid at a DnB nightclub called, Platinum. From there, I started touring across the country. Then, I was asked to join AK1200, Dara, and Dieselboy to be the frontman for Planet of the Drums. I’ve been traveling the world ever since. Where are you from, and what was drum and bass like there when you started? I was originally born in LA and have lived everywhere from New Mexico to Connecticut to Las Vegas. I spent the majority of my life in Philadelphia. I was fortunate to come up with drum and bass music in one of the most knowledgeable cities in the states. DnB fans in Philly were always on a higher level of awareness...knowing all the names of every track, as well as the producer that created it. I wouldn't have been able to do any of the amazing things I've done with music or travel the world if it wasn't for my Philly, NYC, Baltimore, and D.C. family. This is the scene that believed in what I was saying in my lyrics and my energy on stage at raves and festivals and in shitty little bars in the middle of the hood. They came out faithfully to support our music's vision. They helped my message spread internationally. What do you like most about your profession? Meeting interesting fans and artists from around the globe. Also being able to travel where they live to perform and being able to see all these beautiful places that I never dreamed I would be able to visit as a child. What do you like the least? Flight delays and artists with shitty, entitled attitudes. They need to realize that although we work hard as hell, they are very fortunate to be doing what they are doing for a living. Some of these "mega" DJs and MCs need to get their heads out of their ass and appreciate their fans and show respect to their craft more. Who are your heroes? My father. He worked his ass off all of his life to get us out of a bad situation. Also, my mother Helena and my older brother Zia. They passed away early in my life but they are always with me in spirit. I get a lot of my creativity from my mom and brother. My mom put me on to Motown and rock ‘n’ roll as a child and my older brother and the neighborhoods I lived in turned me on to hip hop. As much as I love DJing, producing, MCing to brum and bass, and EDM, hip hop will still always be my first love. What do you do in your spare time? Spend time with my beautiful daughter, write and record vocals nonstop, produce music, paint, draw, play basketball, drink, and wild the fuck out in Vegas.

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How has drum and bass changed in the last ten years? The production and mastering has gotten a lot more technically on point, but that goes for all music. There are so many different genres of DnB now. I love hearing it played on the main stage of a festival and seeing kids just going the fuck off to it. It's not such a left field thing to listen to as it is when I first discovered it. Drum and bass has a long history...it's the foundation of BASS music. I’m happy to see kids in love with hip hop, DnB, trap, dubstep, drumstep, electro, whatever. Now, people are less genre specific, which I definitely appreciate. I love all music as long as it moves me, and I am happy that more and more each day, it is gravitating toward this musical vision within DJ sets and performances. How have you changed? I’m older and wiser. A lot less aggressive. I was living in some shitty neighborhoods in north and south Philly. Since I relocated to Vegas, I have felt a lot more peace. Not having to get in fights every other day and having to look over your shoulder 24/7 reduces a lot of stress. The birth of my daughter has also contributed to making me a lot more peaceful and positive. I have always had a loving heart but some of my actions could be misperceived in the past because I would just snap when someone swung on me or whatever childish situation was unfolding. I am a lot more patient with people and able to keep my fists down and find the strength and calm to walk away. My daughter needs me out of a cage. I’m not serving a bid for anything stupid. How hard do you push yourself? Harder than anyone else will ever be able to push me. I’m very critical of my art and I put a fire under my own ass every single day. Like I said before, I remind myself that I’m very lucky to do this for a living and my whole life could've easily went another route if music didn’t save me. Music is a very hard profession to pay the bills in but it's been going well. I attribute this less to my actual talent and more to my work ethic. I believe that I need to live my craft religiously to succeed so, that's how I treat it. When are you completely satisfied with your work? I appreciate the time and love I put into my music but if you ask any artist... we're never going to be one hurndred percent satisfied. I don’t ever want to become complacent or lethargic. I want to keep evolving and getting better at my craft. If you feel you can't push yourself to be any better...that’s when to call it quits. When you lose your hunger, it will come out in your music. That's my opinion. As an MC, what’s your relationship like with the rest of Planet of the Drums? They are like my family. We are a band of brothers and we have a unique chemistry between the four of us on stage. We all have different artistic backgrounds and influences, but we all mesh together when we perform as Planet of the Drums. It's a big responsibility, as well as a creative release that I don't find anywhere else in life - I’m their voice as well as my own... while they are behind the decks mixing, I'm the aggro rapper spitting my everything into the mic and getting everyone hyped until my clothes are soaked in sweat. The end of a four hour set looks like I was hanging around outside in a thunderstorm. I have to bring a change of clothes to every gig or else I'm walking around swimming in my own Italian grease. It's fucking disgusting and an epic workout at the same time. What’s in your future goals? Being the best father I can be, starting a nonprofit called Creative Rising to help the less fortunate, recording vocals of all genres for new tunes with artists like Excision, Datsik, et cetera. DJing and producing, songwriting with my homie, Lliam Taylor in our music duo, Rise At Night, and launching another project that I can't talk about because I don't want anyone to know it's me. My future goals are to keep doing what I'm doing because it got me here and experimenting with new music to help get me to places that I have never yet been. I already have some number ones with it, but I must stay sworn to secrecy.

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Explain the stories and history behind your tattoos. On my left arm, I have different pieces of Guadalupe/Fatima (one of which is a memorial for my mom with an archway made of guns shooting feathers out of it), a Japanese geisha girl, the Planet of the Drums symbol, and a Portuguese and pirate inspired firearm. On my right arm, I have King Hammurabi, a Ghanian mask, African temple flowers, the Egyptian god, Aker (the double lion god), King Tutankhamen, and a memorial to the Egyptians that helped build the pyramids. On my chest and stomach, I have a Japanese warrior doing a full action kick with a drawn sword ready to connect into the eye of a dragon. This is pretty much the most extreme visual on how I’m inspired to live my life. A reminder to myself to charge into any given circumstance with everything I've got and live life to the fullest. On my back, there is a phoenix being killed by the ghost of a lion. This was from an intense dream I had where a phoenix came down from the sky with a massive spear to hunt a lion... He was jealous that the lion was king and wanted to show the dominance he held over animals and mankind. When the phoenix approached the lion, he threw the spear at the lion and the lion's body turned into a ghost. The spear floated right through him. The lion turned back into his living form and then leaped toward the sky and bit the head off the phoenix in one bite and then devoured his body. I don't know what the fuck this dream means, but I woke up, sketched it, and then gave to my homie, Christian Barcelos in Portugal to put his own creative influence into and tattoo on my back. Maybe I did too many drugs as a kid....it definitely felt like a dream inspired by DMT. I have a tattoo I gave myself when I was twelve or thirteen with India ink, some thread, and a sewing needle. I was drunk at my friend, Steve's house and lost a bet so I had to tattoo a goldfish cracker into my ankle. Some stupid kid shit, but I knew at an early age I would be in love with tattoos. I actually had fun giving it to myself. It's funny - I have a degree in animation and I came out of college and just started touring the world. One day, I would love to focus on my hand art after music and learn the trade of tattooing. What’s your favorite tattoo? My favorite tattoo is the only color tattoo I have on my body. It’s an unfinished Ghanian mask that my good friend Marla tattooed me with. Sadly, she died of a heroin overdose. I always left it unfinished and swore it would be my only color tattoo that I ever put on my body after she was gone. The mask represents a story I was told in Johannesburg, South Africa by an old man that sold me the mask that inspired the tattoo to begin with. He told me a story of a village long ago that was suffering from a severe famine. A god came down and told the suffering villagers that if they gave up all of their worldly physical possessions that they would be lifted to a utopia with endless food and water where they would thrive for many years to come. Everyone that threw their possessions into the sea were lifted and transported to somewhere beautiful and the villagers that couldn't find the strength to part with their physical possessions became emaciated from famine and died. I related to the story because I always have felt that things are just things. Objects are just objects. Life is about health, happiness, and the strength of the human spirit and how we all connect. Sure, a Rolex and a Lamborghini is nice, but you aren't taking any of that shit with you when you die. If anything, the only thing we are capable of taking is our soul. Have any famous tattoo artists tattooed you? Bill Funk. He did the dragon on my chest freehand and did it in a little over an hour. That guy is a beast. Do you have any plans to get more tattoos? If so, what else do you plan on getting? I’d like to get a memoriam of my brother and mother who passed away. That's definitely the next tattoo I am getting. Why is body art important to you? It's communication. It’s telling your history, personality, and character through a visual art to others around you. Your body is your temple. Decorate that motherfucker and pay homage to where you come from. Let the world know.

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Shop: Native Rituals City.State: Oak Forest, IL Number of Years Piercing: 19 Interview: Sean Dowdell

Sean Dowdell: Why did you want to learn to do body piercing? Johnny Velez: I wanted to get into body piercing after getting my tongue pierced. I know it sounds clichĂŠ, but true. The piercer, Jerry, who pierced me was great. He had an amazing bedside manner. I started hanging out and talking with Jerry about body piercing. At the time, he said he was not in a position to apprentice anyone, which I respected, but that wasn't going to keep me from trying to get into the industry. SD: When did you start body piercing, who taught you, and where? JV: Being primarily self-taught, I visited the few other studios in the Chicagoland area at that time and spoke to the piercers while trying to dig for information. I started in '97 with most of my learning coming from The Zone. SD: What piercers did you look up to while learning and why? Currently, who do you admire in the industry? JV: The people I looked up to at that time were Hank, Mad Jack, Jerry, and Jake. Bob "The King of Chicago" Jones, Oscar Sandoval, Rudy Carrillo, and myself were the ones who were getting into the industry at that point. Today, there are so many people I admire and look up to who try to make our industry better for future generations: Derek Lowe, Jef Saunders, Cody Vaughn, Ashley Misako, Luis Garcia, Ed Chavarria, and Brian Skellie, to name a few. There are many I did not name, I apologize, but the list is ongoing.

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SD: What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the industry as a whole? JV: I do quite a bit of volunteering with the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). I have been on the membership committee since the inception which has been about seven years now, I believe. I was part of the outreach committee for a couple years. I have also volunteered my time teaching various classes at the annual APP Conference for the past six years. SD: What would you say you are most known for in the industry and in your place of business? JV: I think that my peers know I have an open door and am willing to let them come hang out, watch me pierce, and ask what ever questions they have. I have had quite a few piercers take me up on that. SD: What do you love about teaching other piercers? JV: One of my favorite things about teaching is progress. At APP, we teach people from all over the world. Knowing they learned something and taking it back to their area, making changes, and bettering themselves and our industry is a great thing. SD: How long have you been involved with APP and what made you want to join the organization? JV: I have been a member of the APP for eight years now. I always said I wanted to be a member, I went to conference yearly, and it is the only organization we have as professional piercers. My shop and the jewelry we carry, have always met criteria, but one time Rick Frueh, the only member in Illinois at the time, called me and asked how far Joliet was from my studio. When I told him about thirty minutes, he responded with, "well, I had two kids drive nearly three hours to my studio because I'm the only member in Illinois." I sent in my application shortly after. SD: Where would you like to be in five years (pertaining to life and business)? JV: I am pretty happy with my life at the present time, but over the next few years, I hope Native Rituals keeps growing as it has been over the years. I want to continue guest piercing, and educating people on safe piercing as well. I do, however, have a couple things I am currently working on that will be shared when the time is right.

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SD: What is your favorite piercing to perform and why? JV: There are so many, but I think philtrums are my favorite. I love the look of them. I also am a big fan of multiple ear piercings when people come in and they're not sure what they want, you can go over some ideas with them and a lot of times they are excited about getting two, three, or even four piercings. Even if they don't want that many, and they just want one, I still enjoy it. SD: Are there any procedures that still make you nervous to perform and why? JV: I don't think so. I have been told piercing in front of other piercers, and piercing other piercers is nerve racking, but I love to do that. SD: What do you think are (if any) problems within the piercing industry? JV: I think that in this day and age with the all of the social media being used, piercers shouldn't be cutting corners at all, or saying that you didn't know the information is out there. There are plenty of us that have been doing this for years that are willing to help, if you're willing to ask and not just assume things. There is still a problem with doing things that are safe for yourself and safe for your clients. People just do things without thinking. It's unnecessary to put you or your client at risk, especially when the information and knowledge to keep people safe is available. Even simple things like using the best quality jewelry, and appropriately sizing pieces so they don't cause problems, are often overlooked and shouldn't be. SD: What do think is something positive that comes from the piercing industry, if anything? JV: I think that one of the biggest things is that we help each other grow as professionals. We can take what one person's idea is and build off of it fairly easily. From there we can work together to create new ideas that can help the industry further. It helps that a lot of us keep open doors about almost all aspects of piercing. Also, there is a lot of education that we share, both with clients and other piercers. We can help others to understand why the little things, such as mirror finish, are really big things. Most of the general public doesn't know that it matters, but it does, and we can help to educate them about it.

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SD: What would you like other piercers to know, that they might not know about you? JV: I am really into sports, but the St. Louis Cardinals are my favorite team. I was lucky enough to have married my best friend at Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals back in 2010. I know she is a great woman because she is a Cubs fan, and still agreed to marry me there. I am also an avid bowler, have a great jewelry collection, sneaker head, and into good beer and good food. SD: Being a veteran piercer, what advice do you think that most new piercers should be aware of as they climb into this industry? JV: Work hard, ask questions, and don't be afraid to approach piercers whose work you like. We are all people, and want to help others. SD: Is there anything you wish to learn or get better at in the piercing industry? JV: I personally am always looking to learn new techniques. There is no one correct way to perform a safe piercing, and it's good to see the other ways it can be done that you may not think about. I also enjoy learning about the way the successful shops run their studios. SD: What are you currently doing and where? JV: When I'm in town, you can catch me piercing Thursdays through Saturdays at Native Rituals. I want to thank Mikey Collins for running the studio and allowing me the freedom to travel. I will be guesting at a few places out west over the next few months. I want to also thank you Sean Dowdell for allowing me to be part of this article.

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THE RELUCTANT MODEL Photo essay by: Sean Hartgrove Clothing provided by: Yakuza893 & Outlaw Clothing Ink INKSPIREDMAGAZINE.COM

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Story: Vanessa Heart Photography: Sean Hartgrove Thora Dowdell is one half of the powerhouse couple behind Club Tattoo, founded in 1995 by Sean Dowdell with Chester Bennington (the lead singer of Linkin Park). Club Tattoo now has six locations spanning throughout Arizona, Las Vegas, and San Francisco with a seventh opening this October. The new Arizona location will be featured inside the Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale, which is going to be the world’s premiere Harley-Davidson experience, and the largest Harley Davidson across the globe. You may recognize Sean and Thora from their recent television appearance on Blue Collar Millionaires. They started off with one small studio and over the past twenty years, have expanded into creating over half a dozen of the most premiere upscale tattoo studios in America, grossing over eight million dollars annually. With the onset of so many successful tattoo studios, in 1997, they began expanding their brand into tattoo culture with a Club Tattoo clothing line and partnering with a variety of impressive companies along the way. In 2006, they collaborated with Etnies to launch a special edition skater shoe, featuring traditional tattoo artwork inspired by individuality, art, and skateboarding. In 2009, Chester Bennington and Club Tattoo released a line of premium men’s apparel called, Ve’cel Clothing, heavily influenced by music, art, and tattoos. The line was quite successful and could be purchased in Bloomingdales and

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Nordstroms. In 2010, they took tattoo art and incorporated it into their branding style and created a limited edition exclusive Red Monkey hat. It sold out quickly through authorized dealers, but you can still purchase one at any of the Club Tattoo locations. You can also see the artwork of various renowned tattoo artists from Club Tattoo on their Bicycle brand playing cards, which can be purchased at any local Walgreens or drug store. Club Tattoo has also been putting their mark on the barber industry, catering to the expanding demand of tattooed, well-groomed, clean-cut men (and women) with a new collaborative line of electric clippers by Oster Professional, which will be available in Spring 2016 at professional beauty suppliers all over the world. Club Tattoo’s influence can be seen globally, whether through their fashion forward line of apparel or in many of their collaborative tattoo lifestyle products. They are changing the face of tattoo studios across the country. Each location is professionally managed by women, averages about 3,500 square feet, and has a budget of one to two million dollars that goes into creating a top-of-the-line professional tattoo and piercing studio. Club Tattoo’s C.E.O., C.F.O., and C.O.O., Thora Dowdell is a mover and a shaker, setting the new standard in the tattoo industry. www.ClubTattoo.com


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Story: Kate Monahan Photography: Patrick Byler Clark Sara X Mills is a YouTube sensation, a blogger, tattoo model and known for her YouTube video of her twerking her breasts to Mozart in perfect time, which has over 93 million views. She’s a viral beauty with an interesting story. A writer and a model, appearing in tattoo magazines, hitting ours, an Inked Magazine favorite, where you can see some of her spreads on Inked’s website under the section “Girls.” You won’t be disappointed. While she photographs, writes well, and has a busy life, Sara has also faced some recent challenges - dealing with her agoraphobia, which you can read about on her latest blog, and being recently diagnosed with Autism. How did Sara find out she had this disorder now, one usually caught in childhood? After 28 years of dealing with symptoms, such as a painful reaction to sounds such as metal on metal, heavy machinery, and certain tones, feeling out of place and having trouble making friends, feeling like a “weirdo,” as Sara describes and unable to ask enough questions, keep a regular job or needing alcohol to socialize and not understanding people’s emotions, basing everything on logic, she talked to a close friend who suffered similar things. Her friend was diagnosed with ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sara then did her research and found a doctor that specialized in ASD and made an appointment. She was tested through the ADOS Test, Module 4 and was diagnosed with ASD-1, which is the diagnosis of high functioning autism per the DSM-5.

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Sara has pushed through the hard spots of ASD, by putting herself out there and continuing with her work in social media. Suffering through meltdowns, pressure, and having a recent move, which caused her much distress due to her inability to socialize, causing high anxiety, and not knowing how to make friends. She would have to watch others to see how they reacted and acted and mimic these behaviors to be able to reach out, make friends, and get herself through the modeling industry, which is no cake walk. Sara is a highly intelligent, strong willed woman and is not set back by her diagnosis. For her, as she explained to me it was a relief to finally know what was going on and why she felt like always the outsider, not understanding. Not that knowing has come easy for her. When telling friends and social media of her condition, people either did not believe her, say they had similar symptoms and that wasn’t the case, and brutally attacking her on social media. Through all of this, she has had to stand up for herself and others who have ASD. She has no shame in her diagnosis, nor should she. Sara, through her many social accounts wishes to help those with the disorder not feel that shame and to educate others on ASD, not to treat them differently, and to remember that they are people too, and highly capable ones. Also, she advocates for dropping the stigma of the disorder, wanting to de-stigmatize it so that others can speak out freely as she has on their ASD and to also encourage others that feel as though they have ASD to seek help and find the right doctor in which she has the platform to do through her YouTube channel and other social outlets.

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Keep up with Sara X, her modeling, and her mission to spread ASD awareness at: www.SaraWrites.com www.Facebook.com/SaraontheInternet Instagram: @saraontheinternet Twitter: @internetsara 90

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Her work on helping others research and find the right doctor to gain the correct diagnosis so they can attain the help they need through therapy and support is a noble one. And she is not backing down. This is a very sensitive subject to her and not one she takes lightly. A strong and outspoken woman, Sara will continue to speak to her audience and raise awareness, de-stigmatize the disorder, and help others in getting the right treatment. There is no shame in her game and with all her own personal battles with her ASD, she has soared above her own fears of getting out and helping others. With the answers she needed, she won’t back down, as she overcomes the fear of not knowing what was wrong by getting help. Sara will soon be locating to LA, in which there she plans on working on putting together a fundraiser and promoting ASD awareness more. Not just a pretty face, social media icon, and terrific writer, Sara is a woman with a purpose and a kind heart with the intelligence to back up those in need and educate the public on ASD. She is a prime example that there is no mountain too high and no waters too deep to cross. With her strong will, she has become a beautiful advocate for a worthy cause and a much needed voice for the ASD community and general public. She has done what many have not, and there is no stopping her. She is one to follow, listen to, and learn from. A great attribute to society and it was a pleasure when speaking to her and hearing the passion in her voice when speaking on the subject. Sara is a beautiful advocate for a beautiful cause. We all may feel out of place, and for Sara, she lets everyone know that they are special, that their differences are part of them, and there is no shame in that. She’s uplifting and driven. So, you will definitely want to tune into her YouTube channel and her social media sites and see for yourself what a great inspiration Sara truly is.

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“I WOULD SAY THAT MY WIFE IS THE STUDIO AND MY CHILDREN ARE THE TATTOOS…” Words: Ákos Bánfalvi

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Kalisz is the oldest city in Poland and this is where talented Polish tattoo artist, Piotr Olejnik lives and works. The idea of being a tattooist was on Piotr’s mind since secondary school. Since then, he has tried collecting money for tattoo equipment in many different lines of work. That was more than ten years ago, when the knowledge of tattooing was hardly accessible. What made you want to become a tattoo artist and how long have you been tattooing? I never thought I’d deal with tattooing. In secondary school, my friend made me a tattoo, another friend of mine saw that and constructed a machine. One day, he came to me and asked if I could do something on his body. I think that really was the impetus, by which I felt a pleasure of doing this job. For me, real tattooing started about ten years ago, when I opened my own studio. What did your family and friends think about you getting into the business? I think my family never thought that it would be a job from which I’d be able to live on my own. However, they motivated me to open my own studio. And thanks to my friends, I could improve my skills, because I was perfecting my craft on their bodies. Tell us about your shop, Eviltattoo. Eviltattoo Studio is located in Kalisz, and I’ve had it for ten years. Since this wasn’t built yesterday, it’s time for larger changes. Actually, I am in the stages of building a new studio, which will be more spacious. I also want to include a painting area, where I can gather some friends and paint something with them.

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Describe how you go about creating a tattoo from concept to finished design, and also describe how you try to put your own unique touch on your tattoos. I start from getting the most information I can get from the client about what they want. Next, I analyze all of it and then search for and choose the best options. Then I organize the idea and create a sketch of the project, and if the client likes it I move forward with tattooing. I don’t know how to explain how I put my own touch on the tattoos, I just do it. Maybe this is in my blood. Actually, I create a lot of my own projects to use later if clients like them. Moreover, the majority of my projects are often formed during tattooing, so they can change a lot during the process. What was the first tattoo you ever did? Can you tell us about it? As I mentioned earlier, my first tattoo I made on my friend. It was placed on the calf - a tribal and surprisingly not bad. How would you describe your style? Which tattoo style do you like best? My style is mostly based on big, surrealistic areas, but I like realism too. However, I prefer colorful tattoos rather than in grey scale. A lot of my ideas I get from Polish paintings. The style which most expresses what I like is that of Zdzisław Beksinski. Do you see tattooing as a job or a way to express your creative side? I can honestly say that I sacrifice my whole life for this unusual work. I would say that my wife is the studio and my children are the tattoos. My work doesn’t finish after I leave my studio. When I come home, I search ideas for future patterns, create projects, and paint. I spend so much time on it, not everyone is able to understand.

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Describe how your role models and any other sources of inspiration have affected your tattoo style. Through inspiration, everyone is able to ascertain what he likes and what not. Thanks to them, we create our own style. I try to analyze a lot of works of many artists. I think my brain remembers a lot of situations photographically, which I could use in my work and not even know it. I try to embrace the styles I really admire in tattoos and paintings. What is the most interesting tattoo you have been asked to do? Once, a man asked me to tattoo hair on his head. After some research, it appears that there are hundreds of people who want procedures like this. Ultimately, the man decided not to follow through without and I was relieved. “Hair” like this isn’t realistic looking and upon closer observation, it can even be funny looking. What is the most shocking tattoo you have done? After all these years, nothing work related is shocking to me. However, I never tattoo eyes, although many people ask about it. What do you think a client should expect from you as a tattoo artist, and what do you, on the other hand, expect from a client to make a successful tattoo and a good collaboration? I expect the most from myself because everything I do will stay on that person’s body and represent my work. From clients, I expect creativity in choosing designs and common sense, because not everything can be made into a tattoo. And of course, we shouldn’t copy other tattoos. People come to me for my style, and I always hope they won’t impose anything that I wouldn’t do. I guess that’s where trust comes in between the client and tattoo artist. The professional tattoo artists knows what he is doing, even if the client doesn’t see it. On the other hand, the client should expect professionalism, skill, and proper hygiene from their tattooer.

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Are there any positive sides of being an artist? Of course, there are plenty, and I wouldn’t realize the positives working in other jobs. Thanks to this interview, people in other parts of the world can see my work and learn about me as an artist. Each year, I travel to various cities all over the world. The biggest advantage is that I get to have a job doing what I love. It also gives me the opportunity to learn about myself. I meet with a lot of wonderful people from all over the world, many of whom I’m still in contact with today. Can I ask if there are any negative parts of your job? At first, a lack of time and rest, because even when I’m resting, I’m working. I lose myself so much in it, and now, I don’t know what is work and what is relaxation. How would you describe the current status of tattoos by the general public in Poland? Tattoos in Poland are still categorized as a different subculture. Although thousands of people have them, we feel that not everyone likes that form of body art. Have you noticed any changes in the tattooing industry since you started? Definitely. Technique and equipment has improved a hundred percent, and it is still evolving. During these last ten years, the world of tattooing has changed a lot. It’s exciting to think what the next decade will bring. How has the tattooing industry changed, in your opinion since shows like LA, NY, MIAMI and LONDON INK have been broadcasted to the nation? I think that these shows have increased the popularity of this industry. Thanks to these shows, us artists gain a lot of free advertisement. Unfortunately, these shows can also lead to bad manners, untrue stories, and unrealistic expectations from the client of their tattoo artist.

EvilTattoo.pl www.Facebook.com/Piotr.Olejnik.98

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Are you InkSpired?

Tattoo Artists:

Submit your tattoos and stories to: Submissions@InkSpiredMagazine.com.

If you are an artist who would like to submit your portfolio or flash material for publication, please send us a message and a sample of your work, and we will get in touch with you about how to move forward as this is treated more as an advertisement than a submission.

Want to be InkSpired? All Submissions must be e-mailed to submissions@ InkSpiredMagazine.com. If your file size is too large to e-mail, please send us a message stating as such and we will provide you with an alternative solution. Please, DO NOT send us links to online storage or websites to view your files. Also, any photos posted in our various social media sites, while appreciated and possibly shared by us on those sites, will NOT enter you into consideration for publication.

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InkSpired Online Store Minimum of three (3) HI-RESOLUTION images need to be submitted. Low-res images will automatically be discounted from consideration. Photo credit, including Photographer, Model, Hair Stylist, and Makeup Artist, needs to be included with EACH IMAGE. You also need to state which of these YOU are, so we can provide you with the correct release form for publication. before publication, we must receive a release form, signed and dated by yourself and ANY PERSON WHO RETAINS OWNERSHIP of the image. We provide the release forms to you once you have been accepted for publication, but it is your responsibility to return it in a timely fashion. Personal Tattoo Submissions: If you are not a model or photographer or another professional in these fields, but you still have an amazing tattoo or two that you would like to submit for our new "Reader's Ink" section, we will be accepting lesser-quality images such as those taken from a cellular phone or personal camera (not professionally taken). The remaining guidelines apply, as well as a notation providing us with the name and location of your tattoo artist.

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STEPHANIE MARAZZO Hugo V Photography To submit to the InkSpired Model of the Month contest, visit: www.InkSpiredMagazine.com/submit/inkspired-model-of-the-month

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Chester Bennington issue