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“I’ll tattoo till I can no longer do it. I see myself staying in the industry forever.”

We sat down with Steve at the beginning of his full-time status with H&H Orlando where, when he’s not enjoying time with his son, he’s collaborating with his clients on their next tattoo.

Hailing from the South Side of Chicago, Steve grew up around art, but didn’t know he would become a tattoo artist.

“I knew I always wanted tattoos, but as far as giving tattoos, I never knew.”

With healthy inspiration from his parents, namely his artistically talented dad, Steve attended special art classes growing up. Learning new mediums was always fun for him. Sculpting, charcoal, pastels, and others, all challenged him to explore new techniques of expression.

He didn’t explore the art of tattoo until a friend began a piercing apprenticeship at a local tattoo shop and insisted he bring his artwork to skin. Steve was intrigued. He found a kit on eBay and jumped in. His first few attempts were rough.

“I did it completely the wrong way!”

But the medium sparked a passion he hasn’t been able to shake since. Steve decided he needed to learn the right way to tattoo, so he took up an apprenticeship at a local shop. That’s where he eventually got his first tattoo.

“I was tattooing for 6 months before I got my first tattoo.”

He picked something off the wall that was later covered by a much more planned piece.

“It was definitely an experience to finally feel what it was like to get one. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It sucked! But it wasn’t one of those things like ‘I’m never doing that again.’”

One tattoo led to another. Then another. His personal tattoos were inspired by viewing other artists’ work in magazines like Prick.

“As an artist you’re always looking at other artist’s work. Then once you get in the industry you can develop how you want your art to be perceived on skin. Your style develops the further you get into it.”

Steve considers himself a well-rounded artist. He’s versed in styles from Realism to Neo Traditional and more recently Watercolor. He finds himself drawn to the and rich, dark blacks and limited color palette commonly found in Neo Traditional. It’s subtle and sharp. And it’s artists like Nikko, Mike DeVries, Carl Grace, and Emily Rose that inspire him to push his style further.

Realistic tattoo by Nikko
Neo Traditional tattoo by Emily Rose
Realistic tattoo by Mike DeVries

Looking back, it’s the amazing stories he hears from his clients that make his work so special.

“The stories were so powerful. You learn what people do for a living. Their home life. They confide in you.”

Steve’s favorite work is the portraits he’s done recently. One of his clients is a big horror movie fan. She asked Steve to start out with a portrait of Jason Voorhees. Steve killed it. So she quickly insisted Steve continue expanding her collection with Captain Spaulding, Billy from Saw, Mike Myers, Chuckie, and the Annabelle doll.

“It’s going to be cool to see that piece finished. Something like that usually takes years to do.”

It’s not just the artwork that keeps Steve’s passions burning. It’s the collaboration of working around a great group of artists. And that’s what has lead him to H&H Orlando. After a couple of guest spots, Steve is proud to now be a full time member of the H&H Orlando family.

“It’s definitely home away from home. You get that feeling the second you walk into a great shop. Everyone is willing to teach and learn.”

Now he’s set to create his next masterpiece.

“I really enjoy bringing a smile to my client's face. It’s cool when you see how excited they get when you show their tattoo to them. The thought that my artwork is going to be with someone forever is definitely cool.”