If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Think before you ink” then you’ve probably at some point in your life contemplated getting a tattoo. When you’re 16 – 17, getting a tattoo probably wasn’t something you’d think too hard about. In fact just the sheer amount of street cred would have been enough to lure you into a 30 year old ex-con’s house to get poked full of holes with a needle that was attached to the motor of what used to be a walkman, not to mention the gross amount of people that needle has been in.
“Think Before You Ink” just so happens to be the name of a tattoo shop out in Queens, New York – set up by tattoo artist Richie “Made Rich” Parker. I heard that Richie was about to make a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia sometime in June and decided to ask my boys at the office to patch me through so I could tell him what each of my tattoos meant (If you don’t know me yet, I’m huge on tattoos and I think the fairy on my hip and butterfly on my lower back prove it). But for real, Richie’s style of tattoo’s were really my thing – all those black and grey iconic religious motifs really got me and I just had to speak to him.
I asked Richie what made him want to become a tattoo artist and I think like a lot of people – he too kinda stumbled upon the path. A young man, chasing his college football dreams, Richie went to a military prep school – no girls, no phones, in the middle of friggin nowhere – and all he had was his sketchbook. He says he has probably sketched more in that sketchbook in those 6 months than he has ever in his entire life. So much so that a teammate there asked Richie to design a tattoo for him and then another friend bought a design off him for $40 when he went home. Later finding out that his friend paid $350 to get the tattoo done, Richie decided he was going to learn to tattoo. In his own words – “Because that $350 was supposed to be mine!”
At some tattoo party, Richie’s mentor Vill discovered him through that same sketchbook and gave him the knowledge he needed to become a tattoo artist. Tattooing out of his girlfriend’s crib, to tattooing out of his college dorm room, right up to Think Before You Ink.
By Arthur Loh
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